Recent History – 1999
May 26, 1999
By Patsy Nagel, Contributing Writer
AITC — Agriculture in the Classroom, is a program begun originally in B.C. by the B.C. Women’s Institute to teach students the importance of agriculture. The pilot project was held here, in School District 59, with the full support of the School Board. The program was very well received by teachers, students and producers, and quickly spread to other parts of the province.
AITC has been operating each spring in this school district. Producer volunteers go into classrooms to talk about their particular commodity, taking with them displays of their products. Students are also taken on a farm tour and to an agri-business which links farming with other businesses in the city.
This year another facet important to agriculture has been added. Students are now introduced to the needs for safety around animals and farm equipment. This program is called TASK – Teaching Agriculture Safety to Kids. The B.C. Women’s Institute again are encouraging this program which is also supported by 4-H in B.C.
Videos are used as well as demonstrations of such dangers as power take-offs and augers. Students are also encouraged to stay back from large tractors as the operator cannot see little people when they are too close to the machine.
Another important part of AITC is conservation. An apple demonstration is used to illustrate the earth and when it is cut up, only a thin slice is left which represents the area of the earth suitable for growing food. The peeling is the precious topsoil which is capable of growing this food. This demonstration illustrates to the students how important it is to save the farmland for growing food instead of building malls, etc. on this food growing land.
If time permits, the effects of erosion are demonstrated. Students are able to find out which type of vegetation will conserve the water and which kind of tillage allows the water to wash away much of the good top soil. The students then recognize that farmers are indeed, caretakers of the earth.
I have been organizing the AITC program in this area since its beginning and I would like to thank my volunteers who give so willingly of their time to keep this important program going. Thanks also to the girls who have taken on the TASK part. They have made good impressions on students on the importance of safety on the farm.
While we have not had as many requests for the program this year, we hope to publicize it more with the teachers next year so that it may again go up to our high of 22 classrooms. Anyone wishing to be a volunteer in any aspect of AITC is urged to leave their name and phone number at the Ministry of Agriculture and Foods in Dawson Creek, 784-2225, or Fort St. John, 787-3240. Teachers interested in the program could also contact these numbers.