By Samantha Johnson
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Growing Home with BASF, a new initiative by BASF Canada Agricultural Solutions, will award $25,000 to three organizations, one each in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, as a continuation of its commitment to investing in communities. The Agriculture Discovery Centre at Irvine School is one of five Alberta finalists and the only from southeast Alberta.
“The Growing Home with BASF initiative was designed to bring rural Canadians together across the Prairies to rally and show support for the local organizations that make an impact in their communities,” stated Kasia Kistelski, PR and social media manager with BASF. “Developing future leaders in agriculture is one of BASF’s core giving pillars, which the Irvine School Agricultural Discovery Centre directly aligns with.”
Winners are chosen by the number of votes they receive. To support the ADC, go to agsolutions.ca/growinghome to place your vote. Once you’ve voted, scroll to the end of the page to confirm the vote by inputting your email address or it won’t count. Each person can vote up to three times and winners will be announced June 12.
Nichole Neubauer was thrilled the ADC was selected as one of the five finalists. In addition to teaching students about where their food comes from, another aim of the centre is to inspire them to pursue careers in agriculture.
“As an industry we are facing a tremendous shortage of workers, whether labour or skilled workers, and that gap needs to be filled as it will only start to widen over the coming years,” stated Neubauer.
With the money, the ADC would develop six-week courses, called Ag-Pro, within the careers and technology foundations options at Prairie Rose Public Schools. Junior high students already have a range of CTF options to choose from, which change each month and a half, but the plan is to add ones in agriculture.
“What we want to do is partner with agriculture industry members within our region. Everything from animal health to mechanics and agronomy. We want to have our students do research about these careers.”
The plan is to arrange site visits so students see firsthand someone working in that area. Ag-Pro options would provide students with experiential, hands-on opportunities to connect with agriculture industry professionals and possibly ignite interest in ag-related careers.
Currently, the ADC is developing a pilot program in collaboration with Western Tractor. If the ADC is successful in the Growing Home with BASF contest, more six-week option courses will be developed such that they are available yearlong. “Transportation is a huge expense with the program,” said Neubauer. “In addition, we need to develop course material and content, which is where the funds would be directed.”
Once the programs are developed, they have the potential to be used as a template for other schools. The ADC’s objectives are always to create templates and develop systems that can be used by others.
“Students can’t pursue what they don’t know, so this is a knowledge quest,” concluded Neubauer.