I am the Teacher Ambassador Program Manager. I look forward to working with you!
On September 9th, 10th and 11th 2014, 600 students came to Canada's Outdoor Farm Show to learn about careers and innovations in agriculture. Ontario Agri-Food Education Teacher Ambassadors tours students around the show and introduced them to equipment innovations, livestock production, biotechnology and environmental initiatives. The results are in on the impact of the day! Check them out here.
Ontario Agri-Food Education and Grain Farmers of Ontario bring Exciting Career Information to Students
On Tuesday March 4th students piled into the Ontario Science Centre; ready to learn more about the exciting opportunities in an ever expanding and technologically advanced industry: Agriculture! Student’s were eager to meet their host, Adamo Ruggiero, star of Degrassi the Next Generation who started the event by admitting that being a “city kid” he was not aware of the opportunity and technology that existed in the industry – and he confessed that he was surprised! He encouraged students to apply their tech-savvy nature and their ability to navigate a digital world to a career in agriculture. The honorable premier Kathleen Wynn gave video greetings to the group, quoting the vast variety of people it takes to bring food onto our plates. What a way to kick off an event!
The highlight of the event was the 4 members of the ag-career panel. Each talked to their own career path and how they found success and reached their goals in the agriculture industry:
Steve Redmond, Crop Advisor was an instant hit when he brought out his Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) and explained the advanced technology involved in crop advising. Student’s were excited to hear about his “drone” and the GPS system that runs it. Check out the video here!
Kimberly VanOverloop had a tagline that caught everyone’s attention: making electricity from cow poop! Kimberly is a Renewable Energy Technician at the Centre for Agricultural Renewable Energy and Sustainability at the University of Guelph Ridgetown Campus. She shared her work on anaerobic digesters and using organic oils to create biodiesel. Some crazy stuff!
Dwight Gerling was next. As a commodity trader Dwight intrigued the young audience with an job that involves travelling to over 22 different countries. His love for numbers and business made him the perfect soybean trader!
Kim Timmer, raised in Etobicoke, found the agricultural industry very welcoming. As a manager she uses her communication skills to explain scientific concepts in simplified ways. Kim talked about her strong relationship with farmers and her love of agriculture.
Students asked panelists their questions and they discussed the importance of networking and communication skills in the workplace. The panelists made it clear that no matter if you are from the city or country, like science or english, are university or workplace bound, there is an opportunity for you in Ag. Their number one piece of advice: follow your passions and there will be a place for you in Agriculture.
GrowingCareers.ca is developed by Ontario Agri-Food Education Inc (OAFE). Recently, OAFE has partnered with an organization, Virtual Researchers On Call (VROC), with the intent of bringing information about the agriculture and careers into the classroom in a new and exciting way!
VROC – Bringing Agriculture and STEM Experts into your classroom virtually
Guest Blogger: Zoë is the Outreach Coordinator for Partners In Research, which powers the VROC program. She has a B.A. in Health Studies with a minor in Contemporary Studies from Wilfrid Laurier University. She is passionate about research, enjoys public speaking and is always looking for new networking opportunities.
Virtual Researcher On Call (VROC) is a vehicle that connects learners to knowledge partners in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) for real-time learning opportunities via videoconference. Learners include students in elementary and secondary schools in Ontario and Alberta. Knowledge partners are researchers and professionals in post-secondary institutions.
Most recently, OAFE partnered with the VROC platform to increase classroom connections with agricultural Experts. Last month, OAFE’s Outreach Coordinator participated in her first virtual VROC session with a classroom in Iqaluit, Nunavut on the topic of seeds and crops. The interaction was a fantastic experience for the students and we look forward to having more OAFE representatives such as Teacher Ambassadors connect to classrooms all over Canada!
Accessing Experts is easy. Once signed up for the program (http://www.vroc.ca/vroc/en/experts-on-demand-sign-up/), you will receive a username and password for our database of Experts, ExpertBook. This is where you will find Experts in agriculture fields such as soil biology, forestry, agriculture technologies, ecology, medical sciences, globalization, weed management and crop production. You may also search for key terms like, “OAFE” to find tagged Teacher Ambassadors signed up for the program.
Join the initiative today as we encourage youth to pursue careers in agriculture and STEM!
VROC is powered by Partners In Research, which is a Canadian charity based in London, Ontario. If you are from a publicly funded school board in Ontario or Alberta, the program is FREE to use. Our funding comes from partnered universities and colleges, health institutions and industries.
For more information please visit www.vroc.ca or contact Zoë directly at
"Canadian Agri-Business Education Foundation awards six $2,500 scholarships annually to Canadian Grade 12 students who are entering into an accredited agriculture college or university." Go to http://www.cabef.org to apply!
Working in Agriculture is more than just messy work and physical labour. The agriculture sector requires workers who are educated, skilled and can easily adapt to technology. Enrollment in agriculture related programs has soared in Canada and it is not only “rural farm kids” who are pursuing these programs. Thirty percent of the students in the BA agriculture program at the University of Manitoba are “urban kids” (Country Guide, November 2013). Agriculture is becoming a more attractive field for those entering the job market and two recent articles outline the importance and attraction of working in the agri-food industry.
The article: Ag sector interest sends university enrolment up, published by the Western Producer indicates that enrolment in agricultural programs at post-secondary institutions is on the rise. The article outlines a number of reasons why we are seeing rising enrolments and what this means for our society. It also talks about why students without a farming background are, and should be, enrolling! Read the article at:
Another article published by the CBC titled Young People Drawn to Farming by income, job opportunities and written by Janet Davidson talks about people returning to work farms and the attractions of the industry. The article discusses the changing role of the primary producer and how the growing size of farms is creating a new job description for workers. Read the article at: http://www.cbc.ca/news/young-people-drawn-to-farming-by-income-job-opportunities-1.1668323