Today the federal and provincial governments announced an additional $400,000 in funding over two years for Agriculture in the Classroom Saskatchewan (AITC-SK), an organization that connects kids and agriculture, to enhance the reach of the program and increase opportunities for hands-on agriculture experiences.
“Educating young people about agriculture is important for the future growth of the industry,” said Ralph Goodale, Member of Parliament for Regina-Wascana. “With so many job opportunities available to young Canadians in agriculture and agri-food, we want kids to start thinking about careers in the sector early.”
“This is an important partnership that stems from shared values and an understanding that keeping youth connected to agriculture is necessary to keep our industry strong,” Agriculture Minister Lyle Stewart said. “One in eight jobs involves the agriculture and agri-food industry, and we need to ensure young people understand and appreciate how food is produced, and are excited about the diversity of careers the industry offers.”
Over the past seven years, AITC-SK has reached more than 136,000 students. The additional funding will increase program capacity with the distribution of nearly 800 new resource kits and 15 more teacher workshops. It will also expand the role the organization plays in career development and see the creation of a new transportation support program so up to 75 more classes can experience real agriculture.
“Last year we were able to reach students in 519 schools from over 200 communities,” AITC-SK Executive Director Sara Shymko said. “It is amazing to see how eager and passionate students are to learn about agriculture, as many have never been to a farm or met a producer. Our programs work to close those gaps and give students a true sense of what agriculture means to Saskatchewan.”
Funding for AITC-SK will nearly double this year and next, with an additional $200,000 each year. A five-year funding agreement was established in 2013 and the enhanced funding brings the total government investment during this agreement to more than $1.4 million.
“I encourage the entire agriculture industry to continue the momentum and make agriculture education and awareness a priority by enhancing their support of this valuable organization as well,” Stewart said.
This investment is funded through Growing Forward 2, a cost-shared partnership between federal, provincial and territorial governments designed to support an innovative, competitive and profitable Canadian agriculture and agri-food sector.