Contributed by Johanne Ross, Executive Director of Agriculture in the Classroom-Canada
It’s spring. Or so the calendar says. Thankfully, spring means many things beyond the weather supposedly warming up and the grass turning green, as some years this takes longer than others do! Farmers and their partners across the agriculture industry are not only growing their communities, but at this time of year, they are moving back into the fields.
In my world, calves are arriving, chickens are laying eggs, lambs are frolicking and the yard needs some clean up. Spring means different things for everyone, but that feeling of newness, growth and opportunities is one thing we seem to share this time of year. If you are a graduating high school student, it may also mean thinking about “next steps.”
If you are considering entering a post-secondary education that is linked to the production of food and feeding our world, and you are considering a college or university program around the amazing world of agriculture, that is pretty exciting.
I am very proud to say I am involved in, and deeply connected to, the agriculture sector and have been since I graduated with my degree in agriculture, majoring in plant science from the University of Manitoba, way back in 1987. Today, I work with over 1,000,000 students and teachers across Canada in my role of Executive Director of Agriculture in the Classroom (AITC) Canada.
I definitely do not do this alone! Nine provincial AITC organizations make up the national group, all offering teaching tools and student experiences in agriculture that are accurate, balanced and current and based on science. Some of you may have experienced an AITC program in your school or an outdoor field event. Maybe it made you curious about a career in agriculture. If it did, that is a great thing and let me say, you are entering the most dynamic, diverse, unique, fast paced, exciting world you could ever imagine. The opportunities are endless! Just have a quick look at this video, developed by AITC in Manitoba. https://youtu.be/rXmyFcqhd2c
You are young, you are creative, you are passionate, you are smart. You are who we need for the future success of this industry, and we know it. That is why so many agriculture companies and organizations support scholarships for youth entering a post-secondary education in the field of agriculture. I have had the great honour to be on judging panels for several industry scholarship programs.
There are countless scholarships offered across Canada that you can check out. Ask your career counsellor! I have been specifically involved in two exceptional scholarship programs: the Monsanto Fund Opportunity Scholarship Program and the Canadian Agri-Business Education Foundation (CABEF). Both of these scholarships require a written piece to be submitted, involving students sharing their vision for the future of Canadian agriculture, their food story and how they can play a role in the future. It may seem like a bit of task, but as a person who gets the great pleasure of reading these essays, I have to tell you it inspires me to be better in my role and to contribute more, just as you plan to.
I take my hat off to the companies and organizations who put their support and confidence into young people pursuing a place in this exciting industry, by supporting their pursuit of an education.
Spring means many things, but before you head outside to gather sun or help on the farm, take a quick look at these scholarship websites and see what your next step could be.