|Oats in the Classroom|
June 21, 2007
Oats in the Classroom
Education can take place at many levels, but the first that springs top of mind is usually "kids in school." With that idea in mind the Saskatchewan Oat Development Commission has become a member of Ag in the Classroom (AITC), Saskatchewan, with a modest investment of $2,000, a level which brings the title "Benefactor", and one of five levels of sponsorship offered by AITC.
SODC chair Dwayne Anderson points out that education was among the early priorities discussed by the interim directors of the SODC when it was established in 2006. "We know that education can take place at many levels from producers to agribusiness and the consuming public, but among the most important would be at the grade school level. Putting agriculture issues in front of the eyeballs of students in an agriculture province is just 'good old common sense' Prairie style!", he states.
Executive director for AITC, Sara Shymko, says as a provincial organization, AITC has a mandate to ensure that agriculture-education resources are available to every classroom, both urban and rural. 'It just depends on what sorts of requests come into use for classroom presentations, or resources." She notes that AITC is (among other projects) part of two major events for students - the "Agri_Ed Showcase" during Agribition each November in Regina and the Prairieland Park Corporation school tours in Saskatoon - part of Crop Week. Despite the fact that these are staged in the cities, Shymko says AITC operates as much in rural areas it does in the urbans.
Ms. Shymko acknowledges that it is difficult to measure the impact of these programs, but since March of 2006 Ag in the Classroom has distributed over ten thousand resources to teachers in various ways, some from direct teacher requests and personally reached over 850 students directly, not including the estimated 7500 children who experienced the Agri Ed Showcase in Regina. It's annual operating budget currently is a modest $150 thousand dollars with just the full-time executive director and one other half time office manager. Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food provides $50 thousand annually, with the balance from industry supporters.
Shymko notes, "Teachers are telling us they don't need more books (on these areas of study). They want more hands on things that they can do - tools that they can use to teach."
For more click here.