There is more to agriculture than farming.
That is the message the County of Barrhead is saying to students through its Agriculture Day program “From Gate to Plate.”
On Wednesday, Sept. 19, close to 220 Grade 4-5 students from Barrhead Elementary School (BES) and Neerlandia Public Christian School toured various farm and agriculture businesses so that they could see the wide variety of career options open to them.
Penny Stephani, who has helped organize the event for a number of years, said the main purpose of the event is to educate students about the importance of agriculture.
“Despite living in a rural community, not all kids recognize where their food is coming from and just how big a role agriculture plays not only in our community, but the entire world. Even children who have grown up on a farm often don’t realize the scope of the agriculture industry and the opportunities that are available to them. They probably have a good understanding of what they do, but not what they do on other types of farms, or the industries associated with them, ” she said.
“One of the really great things about the program is we have such a wide variety of tours and speakers. It really gives students an idea of the opportunities available to them.”
Stephani added Grades 4 and 5 are targeted specifically because agriculture is a component in the provincal curriculum.
The day started in the morning with a number of different tours, depending on the grade level and which group students were in.
In the morning, the Grade 4s toured Martin Deerline and Baas Dairy in Manola, while the Grade 5s visited Schmidt Livestock, followed by a walking tour of a wheat test field with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry research scientist Sheri Strydhorst.
In the afternoon, the Grade 4s visited Barr-North Veterinary Clinic before going to BES to take part in various hands-on agriculture presentations on swine farming, dugout safety, the fur industry and the impact wildlife has on farming operations.
The Grade 5s started the afternoon at the Ag barn, where they participated in sessions on horse safety, agricultural machinery, the importance of conservation in farming, as well as presentations about the different grain varieties and grain safety.
Barrhead’s Agriculture Day is based on a similar program in Stony Plain called City Slickers.
The program, which is run by the city’s Multicultural Centre for the last 20 years, brings more than 1,000 Grade 4 and 5 students from Edmonton to Stony Plain area farms. The County of Barrhead version has been running since 2013.