Students participate in Agricultural Industrial Training Day


Cathy Price, Project Coordinator for the Tri-Campus Schools, organized the First Annual Agricultural Showcase and the Second Annual Agricultural Industrial Training Day at the Acme Community Centre on March 14. Students enrolled in the Agricultural Internship are required to attend one Ag Industry Training Day either in Acme on March 14, or in Standard on April 19, or in Trochu on April 21. This gives them credits for AGR3950 classes.

Grade 10 students had morning sessions from 9:15 to 11:30. These focused on safety practices chiefly as they might apply to farming situations. The full agenda covered the following: Rocky Mountain Equipment addressed safety around large equipment drawing particular attention to roll overs, run overs, entanglements and collisions. Plus the personal anecdotes of cases where the injuries (or death) followed. Syngenta spoke to and demonstrated the proper handling of Chemicals on the farm and the proper use of protective equipment. ATCO Electric and ATCO Underground Utilities emphasized the necessity to “Call Before You Dig” and the way to identify hazards and risk management. An outdoor demonstration of the dangers of overhead utilities along with a graphic video of a victim who survived three jolts that left him with serious scars and amputations made a real impact on all. The Co-Operators presented the details for Farm Insurance Assessment and fire protection. ATV Safety presented by Xtreme Safety outlined several factors to consider in operating ATVs, assessing hazards, and mitigating risk. Sagan Gordon shared her personal story during this time. FORTIS used their model to demonstrate Power Line Safety and Route Planning with Large Equipment and how to make Safe Exists from equipment when a line is downed. Two things I learned from listening in. The old idea of being in a vehicle with rubber tires is “safe” doesn’t apply when tires are steel belted and worn thin. Secondly, when walking away from a site, don’t take regular steps, but “shuffle” so that both feet are always ‘together”.

In the afternoon, the Grade 10 students were able to select from three experiences and take field trips as follows: An Agriculture Business Tour would give an overview of the services they provide and highlight the way they ensure safety at their operations. The businesses included in this tour were Courtney Berg Industries, Linden Agri-Centre, Kneehill Soil Services and Sunterra Farms. Equine Safety and Handling would teach about equine handling and how to care for horses that one is not familiar with. This was being presented by Kayleigh MacEvoy. Livestock Industry Safety would be emphasized in the tour of the cow-calf operation at ARDA Farms and at the feedlot operation at Korova Feeders including the feedmill. A Trade Fair of sorts allowed students to check in with local and community partners to identify opportunities available, and in addition to those presenting the safety forums there were others who were on hand.

The Grade 11 and 12 students came in at 11:30 and had opportunity to visit these displays and then more specifically after a presentation by the Keynote Speaker, Robyn Kurbel they were able to attend “Career Prep Break-out Sessions” These were quite practical. Kneehill Adult Learning (KALS) spoke particularly on how to make a resume stand out – simple tricks and tips to help a resume get noticed. OK Tire representative Carla Beirness drew from her many years of experience to show how to make a great first impression and how to network effectively with prospective employees and clients. Dina Sutherland with UFA gave suggestions as to how one could use tools such as LinkedIn to find the right career and how to showcase one’s skills. Sunterra Farms’ Trish Hyshka showed how to interview effectively. This covered the kinds of questions employers commonly asked and what they are looking for. It also alerted the students to recognize “red flags” that might come up in an interview. She also gave coaching for the “great answers” to the questions that would be sure to come up. A special feature for those who were prepared, was an “interview practice experience”. This was a “mock interview” where a UFA HR person went through an “interview template” and then would assess the responses and give feedback.

The Keynote Speaker, Robyn Kurbel, is with the Calgary Stampede and Agrium Journey 2050. This was a presentation to raise the awareness of what must be done now in order to meet the challenges of feeding the world by the time most of these students will be 50ish. Ms Kurbel used visuals to answer the question: “How can we sustainably feed nine billion people by the year 2050”? “Students today were challenged to consider the future of agriculture and feeding the world. Agriculture is one of the fastest growing, in demand areas of the economy. Through opportunities for value-added strategic planning of Agricultural products, to the growing need of professional services in this industry, Agriculture offers many opportunities for exiting, innovative, and creative careers.” It is estimated that by 2050 we will have to grow over 60% more food on the same or less land than is being used now. Less than 10% of the earth’s land is suitable for growing crops. With the best soil for crop production also being in the same place as the highest population densities the need for figuring out sustainability strategy is urgent. Urban sprawl takes up more land when the need is increasing to have more land available for food production. Therefore the need to grow cities “UP” instead of out, is very important. In the Agricultural world, there is a three-fold need. One is to increase soil health to grow more food on the same land. Two is to increase technology to improve crop input use, and Three is to sustainably use land already in production. One of the most disturbing facts is that 25% of the world’s food is wasted! In developed countries food is thrown out and over consumed. In developing countries food is lost because of unreliable storage and transportation. “Hunger is often caused by food waste and inequality of distribution, not scarcity.”

The information given out in this Agriculture Showcase was practical and vital for students to grasp for the future of the Agriculture community. It is hoped that the students will be able to pass on much of the information, both as to farm safety ideals and career opportunities to family and friends. Not all of the students taking in these sessions are “farm kids” and much of the information would be “new” to them, but would give a new perspective of the place of Agriculture in their everyday life. The Agriculture Showcase was presented through or in partnership with “Ag for Life”. Ag for Life describes itself as: Ag for Life is a not for profit organization dedicated to building a greater understanding and appreciation of agriculture and its fundamental connection to life.

Through close collaboration with not for profits, community leaders and government, Ag for Life develops, expands and offers hands-on educational programming to children, youth and adults with the goal of closing the knowledge gap between rural and urban populations, strengthening the agriculture sector so that it is sustainable over the long term, greatly reducing the number of farm fatalities and injuries and elevating the fundamental importance of having a strong and sustainable food producing community.”