Agriculture in the Classroom recently held its annual general meeting (AGM), where a local young woman gave a speech.
Grade 10 Elm Creek student Taylor Carlson made a presentation to the crowd about her trip to Iowa in October, which was sponsored by Manitoba 4-H and Agriculture In The Classroom.
The agriculture-based trip to Des Moines, Iowa, was to attend the Global Youth Institute, hosted by the World Food Prize Foundation.
"One of the teachers in a town close to us sent the application to me, saying that I should try and apply," Carlson recalled.
She admits she was surprised to be chosen to go.
"I was honoured to be chosen to go after a written application and an interview," said Carlson, adding she thought an older student would be accepted instead. "It's all about youth empowerment and how youth can be involved in the agindustry right now,"
Highlights during her trip last year included a field trip to Hawkeye Breeders Service, where she learned more about cattle genetics, which is something she's interested in.
Another highlight was presenting her research paper.
"My paper was on sustainable beef production practices in Brazil," Carlson said. She wanted to stick to the beef topic, but made her paper unique by choosing the South America location.
Carlson also made many friends during her 3 day trip, including people from Pakistan, China, and Kosovo. She still keeps in touch with some of the people she met through social media. "Having these connections going into the ag industry is huge," she said.
Taylor is deciding between U of M or Lakeland College in Alberta to study Animal Agriculture or Animal Nutrition. Her trip taught her she can make an impact in Elm Creek, Winnipeg, or around the world.
Taylor's mother, Lisa Carlson, is a first year ag teacher and said the trip was valuable to her as well. "We do have a lot of agricultural families," Lisa said of the Elm Creek community. "However, there are some who aren't, and they're taking the course to learn 'where does their food come from?"
She noted an Ag in the Classroom inservice gave her many resources she could use to teach as well.
Midland MLA Blane Pederson was at the Ag in the Classroom AGM, and was able to hear Taylor's speech. "It's just fantastic that the future is so bright for a girl like Taylor, she's got ag experience, she's using that experience, and she will go a long way in both promoting the ag industry and growing a career in ag," said Pederson.
He agrees with Lisa that students often don't know where food comes from. "As Lisa and Taylor mentioned too, even in our rural schools there isn't that connection back to the farm that there once was. Just because you live in a rural community, you don't necessarily have that. So if it's not in the rural community, it's certainly isn't there in our urban schools."
Pederson added that Ag in the classroom is great for educating and opening up opportunities in agriculture. "In university, in the diploma and degree classes, there's a lot of students now who don't come from farm backgrounds, and this is how we attract them, through programs like Ag in the Classroom."