1. They are interested.
In my teaching practicum placement, I often talked about farming and agriculture with my students. They asked great questions about farm life and were surprised to learn that my family and I truly cared about the animals and crops we grew and worked hard to ensure that they were raised in a safe and healthy way.
The students that I have had the pleasure of meeting at the Canola Learning Centre are fascinated by farming. They ask quality questions and are curious to learn about life on a farm.
2. To make connections to food.
One statement that I find myself repeating with every group that visits the CLC is that “farmers work hard to produce good food for all of us to eat.” I believe that developing healthy relationships with food should begin with learning about where and how food is grown of farms.
3. To make connections to the land.
At the Canola Learning Centre, we are all about experiential learning. The students get to visit a working farm, touch and experiment with canola seed, closely look at crops, pull and identify weeds (it’s more fun than it seems!), and sweep for bugs.
In all of these instances, students get to experience a farm gaining hands-on learning in an agricultural and educational environment.
4. To make connections to people.
I think there has been a growing disconnect between producers and consumers. Farmers, like all other people, have families and care about their work. I think it is important for students to understand that farmers eat the food they produce, and by developing connections to the farmers, students are also developing connections to the food.
5. To gain perspective.
Learning about agriculture can be a contentious subject. There are many topics and issues of hot debate within the agriculture industry. Despite the disagreements, I think as educators we need to focus on three main ideas:
1. that all farmers work hard to produce good food for all of us to eat;
2. that all farmers care about the land and animals they grow; and
3. that we all have more to learn about agriculture in our immediate and global community.
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Haylan is a coffee drinking, book reading, out-door adventuring, Canadian History enthusiast who is passionate about the prairie landscape and wooden country grain elevators. Haylan is currently working for the Manitoba Canola Growers as the Canola Learning Centre Coordinator and is returning to the University of Winnipeg in the fall to complete her Bachelor of Education Degree.