Have you every heard of Canadian Agriculture Literacy Month (CALM)? If you haven’t and you’re a farmer, maybe it’s time you did!
Since 2012, Agriculture in the Classroom-Canada has delivered this program each March to over 90,000 students across Canada. Through hands-on experiences, students learn about and celebrate agriculture in various ways, including reading about farming, watching videos and live stream events, and meeting with real farmers and other agricultural representatives.
Selkirk, MB farmer Curtis McCrae has supported CALM since the beginning. Here’s how he describes his experience going into the classroom on behalf of Canadian farmers:
How does a farmer participate in CALM? The best way I can describe it is by doing it the same way I perform a CALM presentation. I tell my story.
My story goes back to when my eldest daughter wrote an essay in junior high about the hog industry. She came home less than thrilled when her teacher deducted marks on her essay for using the term “beloved animals” when describing livestock. Her teacher informed her that farmers do not care about their animals and therefore they cannot be beloved.
If you’re a farmer and you’re reading this, I’m sure your blood is boiling like mine was. It’s certainly not pure hatred that would make a farmer spend a night in a barn with a sick calf to nurse it back to health.
So who’s fault was this? Maybe instead of laying blame it was time for me to do something about it, and I did. This made me go to schools and talk about agriculture from a farmer’s eyes.
Now several years later, a journey that started from anger has become a journey of giving. Children want to learn about what happens on a farm, your farm. What do you grow? What does your tractor look like? And most importantly, how many dogs do you have?
Elementary students have lots of questions and no agenda. I know this works. Weeks after my presentation the students still know how many cows I have and many other details. Even students who might have a hard time concentrating find a way to pay attention and join the conversation.
One newly arrived student who was still learning English asked three questions during my presentation! According to the teacher that was the first time the child had asked a question in the month he had been in the class.
In the end, I’m not sure who gains more from these conversations. I think together both student and farmer learn and create memorable moments for everyone involved.