Posted by: colleenoshea | February 15, 2009

Ag-Education a Hot Topic


Recently, I was privileged enough to attend an inspiring seminar put on by CanACT (Canadian Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow) at the University of Guelph. At this presentation, Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) President Bette Jean Crews and Ontario Agri-Food Education (OAFE) Executive Director Colleen Smith were the two guest speakers- telling their stories of their involvement in the agricultural industry. It was a very powerful evening as they are both very driven and determined women, and defiantly left the students in the room with new motivation

     Although many things interested me during the presentations, one thing that I was intrigued by was the constant theme in both presenters to “buy local. In particular, I was extra intrigued at Colleen’s views of integrating the local food movement into the classroom, as my future career path is in teaching. Colleen shared with us thoughts on how our education system has been improving when it comes to being informed about agricultural issues- especially food. She stated that more and more teachers are focusing in on the importance of healthy, local food.

     She distributed “education packs” to each of us, which OAFE handed out at The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair this year. One resource in this pack was an OAFE pamphlet on the local food movement. Included on this pamphlet was the definition of the new word for 2007; “locavore”. A locavore is defined as a person who wants to make a difference in their environment by making an effort to eat food that has been grown and harvested within a 100mile radius of where they live. As well, the pamphlet included sample lesson plans of how teachers could integrate the importance of healthy

     I was particularly drawn to this and thought it was an excellent resource for teachers. I asked my mother, a family studies teacher if she had heard of this resource, or used any of the resources OAFE has available and she proudly commented that she does indeed use them, and that they are excellent assets to lessons. I strongly feel that MORE teachers need to use these resources. They are perfect ways to bridge the gap between urban and rural, to instill in young children the value of buying locally and in turn, to gain more support for our local farmers. As I will be graduating in April, and hopefully one day will be standing in front of a class of children, I know I will use OAFE’s resources and will be sure that Ag-Education is front and centre in my classroom.


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