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May 19, 2024 May 19, 2024

Students learning beef industry at Irvine School

Posted on May 2, 2024 by Ryan Dahlman
Commentator/Courier Photo Submitted by Logyn Jacksteit.

By Heather Cameron

Irvine School offers a CTF course called Ag Pro and one of the courses within Ag Pro is called Ag Pro Beef. AgPro Beef was held from January 30 – March 14, 2024.
“The AgPro Beef CTF explored the many facets of the cattle industry,” said Logyn Jacksteit, teacher, athletics coach, and co-head of Ag Pro CTF.  “From learning about the role that cattle play in carbon sequestration and preservation of the grassland eco-system to evaluating beef quality from a live and carcass standpoint. Students researched low-stress handling systems and will apply their knowledge in the design of a miniature 3-D cattle handling system.” 

Jacksteit says that this year, students also went on many field trips to Co-Op Ag Centre, Short Grass Ranch, Medicine Hat Feeding Company, and Deerview Meats. Subject experts Christina Reesor from Operations Grassland, Craig Lehr from Short Grass Ranch who donated steers again to the school farm, and veterinarians Dr. Tom Daborn, Dr. Bryony George and registered vet tech Robyn Anderson also visited the class, Jacksteit said.

“We tried to show them as many career paths as possible in the ag beef industry,” said Jacksteit.

The students’ final project, Jacksteit said, was to design a miniature 3-D cattle handling system and the winners of the AgPro Beef Project were Senya Hietamaa and Alexis Weir, while the runners up were Katelyn Sheppard and KariDee Millington.

“The outcome was awesome,” said Jacksteit. “We had a guest judge come in to pick a winner and a runner up. The students learned a lot through the process. We also displayed them at our Exhibition of Learning where the entire school and parents could come and see the displays that were built. We will do the projects again next year. It is fun, interactive and as hands on as possible, lots of expert guest speakers, many field trips, and not a lot of schoolwork. And it is designed in a way where it should not exclusively appeal to existing ag kids. This is for all students.”

The course, Jacksteit says, is typically for kids in grades seven to nine, but this year, it was only grades eight and nine because so many grade nine students were interested in participating.

Jacksteit says that in addition to the Ag Pro Beef CTF, Irvine School also has an Ago Pro Crops and an Ag Pro Western Tractor sub-course. 

Ag Pro Western Tractor, Jacksteit said, started last year, and in AgPro Western Tractor students get to learn about all the careers at a large John Deere dealership, and then hone in on parts, sales, and service. Students learn how to pull parts from the system and the shelves, drive a combine, sell a combine and a Gator, and in service they learn the ins and outs of a combine, and new this year they are actually going to fix a technology-based issue (one that is created by their team) with a piece of equipment. Fifteen students, Jacksteit said, were in the Western Tractor John Deere sub-course.

“In Ag Pro Crops,” Jacksteit said, “students learn and investigate the importance of soil, sustainability, and crop protection, crop fertilizer, and many in class experiments comparing soil from the Calgary Foothills in comparison to the Sandy Brown Soil Zone in southeast Alberta.” 

“These experiments look at water retention in soil, seed germination testing, soil erosion from water and we are even growing durum and wheat crops in our class in growing beds,” said Jacksteit.

Jacksteit also said the original concept for the CTF was his co-teacher Nichole Neubauer’s idea; but after the idea was introduced, they ultimately developed the course together. Jacksteit said that funds from the 2023 Fall Gala and Production Sale were then invested to create this unique and impactful learning opportunity, and local agriculture business partners played an integral role in making these courses possible. 

“We rely on subject matter experts to ignite the minds and forge futures for these students,” said Jacksteit. “Sharing their expertise and how they navigated their career pathways helps to make learning authentic for students. I ran the course and Nichole organized all our field trips and guest speakers with our local businesses.”

“We think this is the best time to pioneer these programs in our province and who knows what we will offer in 10 or 20 years down the road,” said Jacksteit. “We really have a great opportunity at our fingertips now that we have started. I can see the wheels turning for many students as they have been walking around facilities and talking to experts. I try and put myself in the students’ shoes as we walk through such an incredible facility with incredible people and ask myself, ‘Wouldn’t it be amazing to work at a place like this and the answer is, yes.’ I am sure they start to think about what courses they may need to take as they enter high school in the next year or two in order to end up in a field they are interested in. Whether its marketing, sales, biology, human resources, social media, agronomy, the opportunities are endless. I am a farmer as well on a 4th generation family farm and I believed that farmers need to do a better job for advocating for themselves and their industry. Often in Canada, the agriculture industry is viewed as an unimportant part of our country, but the GDP is very important to our country’s revenue and economy, and we need food to eat and stay alive. Any way we can educate students or people about the agriculture industry and get them involved in our culture and industries is a good thing.”

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