+ RMA Rural Municipalities
of Alberta

Resolution 23-19F

Mandatory Agriculture Education in the Classroom

Date:
November 1, 2019
Expiry Date:
December 1, 2022
Active Status:
Active
Sponsors:
Lac La Biche County
District:
5 - Edmonton East
Year:
2019
Convention:
Fall
Category:
Education
Status:
Intent Not Met
Vote Results:
Carried as Amended
Preamble:

WHEREAS agricultural production in Alberta has historically been and continues to be a major economic force and employer of workers; and

WHEREAS generations ago, most Albertans grew up on the family farm and had an intimate knowledge about how livestock, crops, and other agricultural commodities were raised; and

WHEREAS most Albertans now live in urban non-farm environments and do not have the same level of knowledge about how livestock, crops, and other agricultural commodities are being raised; and

WHEREAS the general public has historically had a high regard for agriculture and farmers as they put food on their table in Alberta, Canada, and the rest of the world; and

WHEREAS modern agriculture in Alberta is being severely tested by concerns about how livestock, crops, and agricultural produce are being raised, especially regarding environmental impacts, animal cruelty, and farm safety; and

WHEREAS many of these concerns stem from a lack of knowledge about agriculture in the general community;

Operative Clause:

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Rural Municipalities of Alberta work with fellow rural stakeholders, Alberta Education, the Alberta Teachers’ Association, and all elected school boards to request that mandatory agriculture education be implemented in the school curriculum in Alberta.

Member Background:

Lac La Biche County, like most Alberta rural municipalities, has a significant world-class agricultural sector that is a Canadian success story sometimes unknown to the community at large.

Grade four students in schools in Lac La Biche County (public, Catholic, or Francophone) may be taught agriculture in the classroom so long as the school approves. The Classroom Agriculture Program (CAP) is a well-known and highly respected education program currently reaching over 20,000 grade four Alberta students annually. Since its beginning, CAP has reached more than 570,000 Alberta youth.

CAP is about creating a broader understanding of the food we eat and where it comes from. Students start to understand the value and importance of agriculture in Alberta, the vast opportunities, and the people and producers that drive this industry. Volunteers deliver the program through storytelling, engaging props and fun activities. With the support of agriculture for life, the program’s goal is to expand and reach 30,000 Alberta students annually over the next two years.

This initiative is endorsed by Alberta Education and Alberta Agriculture and Forestry. “Agriculture is vital. We are getting further and further from the farm. It is imperative that people understand that their food comes from farms – not just the grocery store. That message can begin at school,” states CAP General Manager Don George. Lac La Biche County Council believes this message needs to be delivered to all schools in Alberta.

RMA Background:

RMA has no active resolutions directly related to this issue.

Government Response:

Alberta Education

Science and Social Studies

  • The Science and Social Studies curriculums both provide students with opportunities to learn about a wide range of topics, including concepts related to agriculture in Alberta. Additional information is available at www.alberta.ca/programs-of-studv.aspx.

Selecting Agriculture-related Classroom Resources that Support Curriculum

  • Alberta’s provincial Kindergarten to Grade 12 curriculum outlines what students are expected to know, understand and be able to do in each subject and grade. While Alberta Education determines curriculum content, teachers use their professional judgment to determine how students achieve the learning outcomes in the provincial curriculum.
  • School authorities have the autonomy, flexibility and responsibility to determine which supports, resources or programs are most appropriate for their students and school community. This provides Alberta’s school jurisdictions with the opportunity to best address the needs of the students and the communities they serve, using the resources available to them.

Future Curriculum

  • Our government is committed to providing students in Alberta with the skills and knowledge they will need to succeed in their chosen careers.
  • Government established an independent curriculum advisory panel to provide a new vision for student learning, as well as recommendations on the direction for future Kindergarten to Grade 12 curriculum.
  • A new online survey is available until February 24, 2020 for Albertans to provide input on the draft vision for student learning. This feedback, along with the recommendations from the curriculum advisory panel, will help guide our work as we move forward with updating the curriculum.

Alberta Agriculture and Forestry

The Government of Alberta is committed to the continued growth of Alberta’s agriculture and agri-food industries. With the increasing disconnect between Alberta’s growing urban population and their rural neighbours, government recognizes the need to connect consumers with where their food comes from. To facilitate public understanding of industry, government has taken concrete steps to supporting agriculture education in our province.

Alberta Education and Alberta Agriculture and Forestry has developed the Green Certificate Program, a dual-credit program where students can earn both high school credits and an industry certification in a variety of agriculture career paths. Students select a specialization and, under the guidance of a trainer, work towards mastering all of the skills within their training program. Upon completion, the trainee receives 16, grade-12 credits.

Alberta Agriculture and Forestry is committed to working with Alberta Education as it reviews curriculum to find ways to integrate agriculture into Alberta’s K-12 core courses like science and social studies. Currently, agriculture is represented in subjects like Social Studies, Science, Foods, and Health, but many teachers do not have the knowledge or the resources to be able to integrate agriculture themes into the curriculum. To facilitate getting agriculture into classrooms, Agriculture and Forestry developed a Canadian Agricultural Partnership Public Trust Youth Agriculture Education Grant for industry organizations and education organizations to develop curriculum-linked programs that build public trust in agriculture. The grant has $2 million dollars allocated over the five-year agreement. The Classroom Agriculture Program organization, which you specifically mention in the Member Background of your resolution, is eligible to apply for funding for any new initiatives they may have, or to expand their current program.

Development:

While the Government of Alberta response does outline how agricultural topics may be included in classroom education, it does not indicate action to have mandatory education in agricultural topics for all Alberta students. As a result, this resolution is assigned the status of Intent Not Met.

Provincial Ministries:
Agriculture and Forestry,
Education
Provincial Boards and Organizations:
Other
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