Yesterday I attended the Agriculture in the Classroom Manitoba (AITC-M) Annual General Meeting in Winnipeg. The goal of AITC-M is to enhance awareness of agriculture in Manitoba schools. For more information visit www.aitc.mb.ca. I’ve had the privilege of participating in a few AITC-M programs and activities during the past few years, including the Amazing Agriculture Adventure, the Amazing Agriculture Race at Manitoba Ag Days, and the Amazing Agriculture Race at Discover Agriculture in the City. Through these events I was able to help connect both urban and rural Manitoba students with agriculture.
Growing up on a farm I was surrounded by agriculture and was well aware that my favourite calf would eventually grow into a heifer and may end up on my dinner plate. Or that the golden wheat blowing in the breeze would be harvested, eventually ground into flour and may end up in my loaf of bread. I knew that most city kids had no idea where their food really came from, but I always assumed that other rural kids were just as familiar with agriculture as I was. Unfortunately that’s not the case. This is why it’s so important for AITC-M to reach out to both urban and rural students. And it’s also crucial to reach these students at a young age while their opinions on agriculture and food can still be positively influenced. As people get older they form opinions and it becomes more difficult to persuade them to think differently.
The theme of this year’s AITC-M was “Seeds that Feed.” A fitting theme considering today (April 22) is Earth Day. AITC-M is planting seeds of information in students, knowing that down the road these seeds will pay off. Guest speaker Owen Roberts spoke on the theme, Planting the seeds that feed the future of agriculture. Roberts provides a city view on agri-food through his column in the Guelph Mercury newspaper and his blog (www.urbancowboy.ca). He says, planting seeds requires: Passion, Persistence and Partners. Something that the AITC-M staff, board, membership and volunteers possess.
Roberts is also the director of research communications for the University of Guelph where he founded the University’s student research writing program called SPARK (Students Promoting Awareness of Research Knowledge). He talked about KTT (Knowledge Translation and Transfer). Knowledge Translation is interviewing people, writing stories and producing videos, while Knowledge Transfer is getting the story out. He feels the key to Knowledge Transfer is media immersion. We need to become part of the community we’re trying to influence. Get the information from the people who create it to those who can use it.
Roberts included this motivational quote in his presentation.
“Somebody should do something about that. Then I realized I am somebody.”
You are somebody. If you have the Passion, Persistence and Partners, you should do something to Plant the seeds that feed the future of agriculture.