What Is This Royal Winter Fair You Speak Of?

The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair (aka ‘The Royal’ or RAWF) is one of the biggest agricultural fairs in Canada and world-wide, and is ideal for agriculturalists to share Ag knowledge and products with fellow farmers and enthusiasts. From breeding/conformation and riding competitions to produce awards, Canadian agriculturalists can showcase just how incredible agriculture is. The Royal is also a great place for average Canadians to learn about agriculture.

The whole event lacked promotion however. Part of RAWF is exposing the ‘city slickers’ to agriculture in a fun and engaging way that encourages continued interest. But as I researched into the Royal’s educational programs, I realized that major media outlets mostly gave the brief ‘3-liners’ on the event, only highlighting dates and prices. There were some articles about a photographer being tossed by a bull, and select educational activities, but overall, the event lacked coverage. And it seemed to me that the promotional aspect portrayed more of a sport-atmosphere with education being an after-thought. Adults enjoyed the cooking-with-fresh-food seminars, and educational activities about horses and food were great for teaching kids about agriculture. I just don’t think enough people knew about them.

Educating the masses is a big issue in agriculture, so events like the Royal are perfect for helping with this issue. As much as RAWF is for farmers and Ag enthusiasts, educating the masses should also be a focal point; additional interactive displays, extensive educational-aspect advertising, and perhaps even setting up Education Days are some ideas. Agriculture can’t get much closer to the city than RAWF has in Toronto; let’s take advantage of this opportunity!

This post has been re-posted here at TheNerdyAg.wordpress.com, initially published by the same author at a different URL.   Original Posting Date: November 10, 2013

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The Agriculture Awareness Initiative

When thinking of Saskatchewan, the colour yellow and wheat come to mind, but not much else. Most people wouldn’t know that Saskatchewan is Canada’s top agri-food exporting province, or many other highly-distinguishing agricultural facts about the province (let alone about Canada). Most people also don’t take the time to learn about the complexity and role of agriculture, and making agriculture a more prominent staple in our lives. The problem with understanding agriculture and increasing awareness for the industry is it’s a life-long learning process, not a quick tutorial.

In April 2013, the Saskatchewan government announced their new Agriculture Awareness Initiative, aimed at promoting agricultural careers and education. This initiative helps Saskatchewan organizations and businesses with new programs/campaigns through funding of new promotional resources, conferences and workshops. And recently on October 22, Saskatchewan government announced additional funding for the project. Programs like Adopt A Rancher, as well as events and attractions such as the Canadian Western Agribition and Saskatchewan Science Center will all benefit from the initiative’s funding.

More provinces should implement a program like the Agriculture Awareness Initiative; more people every day are becoming concerned with the environment around them, and what they are eating. It’s important that the public receive the facts, understand the processes, and incorporate agriculture more into their lives.  Events such as Agriculture: A Bright Idea youth conference and the Pacific Agriculture Show would help expose the masses to agriculture. By creating involvement programs that reach out to schools and businesses, Canadian events and organizations would help reach new demographics and foster the desire to actively bring agriculture into peoples’ lifestyles.

This post has been re-posted here at TheNerdyAg.wordpress.com, initially published by the same author at a different URL.   Original Posting Date: November 3, 2013

Ag industry should target women to promote Ag education

Working women have never had it better than in the 21st century, here in Canada. Canadian laws have made it so women and men have equal job opportunities (and in many cases, more opportunities), and identifying as a female can mean many financial opportunities as well (in the form of scholarships, etc). And most, if not all, jobs can be done by women. So why don’t we see more women working in the Agriculture industry? I think this is because on some level, many women (and men) still think of Ag as ‘a man’s world’, avoiding opportunities such as heading major agricultural businesses and bringing innovation to the industry due to societal beliefs and traditions.

The reason I say this is because a lot of people (men and women alike) assume I want to have a traditional farm-based support-role, like tending to the gardens, or horse barns, or be a secretary at a big tractor company. Others just can’t understand that I want to bring Agriculture to the forefront of Canadian lives, and introduce and increase Ag education in Canadian schools, using my design, marketing, and communications skills. I’ve also noticed that there are not as many women in the Ag industry as men.

So let’s create a new campaign to get more women into agriculture. This can start with creating ads exposing the many opportunities in Agriculture, and providing Ag scholarships specifically for women. The stereotype is that Ag is a man’s world; I think we need to change that to ‘Ag is everyone’s world’.

This post has been re-posted here at TheNerdyAg.wordpress.com, initially published by the same author at a different URL.   Original Posting Date: October 27, 2013

Why is it so hard to incorporate agriculture into Canadian curricula?

Here is why: Many schools are underfunded (meaning shared textbooks, few computers, and no field trips) so students don’t get a chance to experience agriculture – at all. Problem #2: for these kids, their surrounding areas have been completely stripped of agriculture, in lieu of business, entertainment, and residential buildings. So these problems mean no ‘hands on’ experience, and students don’t understand how important the Ag industry is. It makes it very hard to teach students about an industry that’s primarily “hands on”.

So if the students can’t go to the farm, bring the farm to the students.

A high school in Toronto recently set up a garden on their roof, with plans to involve many of their programs in the growth and production of the vegetation. The school even has plans to eventually have culinary students help feed the school, and produce revenue by selling the produce at farmers’ markets, George Brown College, and other restaurants.

I really think this should have started years ago. The school boards will actually be generating money for themselves, and helping to feed their students healthy foods. Education-wise, students will learn so much more: they will gain a broad understanding of issues facing agriculture, since they too will struggle with those problems while growing, producing, and managing the gardens; and students will learn real examples of teamwork, rather than unrealistic group projects that happen only in school. Agriculture is hands-on work, so students should learn Agriculture through hands-on methods!

This post has been re-posted here at TheNerdyAg.wordpress.com, initially published by the same author at a different URL.   Original Posting Date: October 20, 2013.