If there’s a myth organizers of the Lambton Kent Agriculture in the Classroom program want to dispel it’s the idea of Old McDonald’s farm.
“It’s not Old McDonald’s farm anymore,” says Wendy Hooghiem. “Modern farming is very different from what a lot of kids imagine.”
Hooghiem operates the Science Education Partnership at Errol Road Public School, originally tasked in 1992 with providing schools with books and other resources on various science subjects.
But the Science Education Partnership teamed up with Agriculture in the Classroom 16 years ago, giving Hooghiem and the partnership the opportunity to also send agricultural kits to the same schools – to teach students about farm animals and about where their food originates.
The kits vary according to age group. Grade 3 students might receive information about plants and soil, while Grade 2 students receive information about farm animals. Meanwhile, students in Grade 7 might receive a kit about ecosystems.
The objective is the same – to provide accurate and timely information about the region’s agricultural activity.
Judy Krall, whose family operates an egg farm in Enniskillen Township, has been deeply involved with the program. She said she worries that some generations of students have missed out on learning about agriculture.
The program also provides an opportunity to the local agricultural community to tell their story, she said.
“It has a huge impact on those students,” Krall says of the program. “We want them to know what we do.”
Hooghiem adds it’s important that local students have a realistic view of agriculture.
“We may not realize how much we need farmers,” she said. “We need a farmer three times a day when we sit down to eat.”
The Agriculture in the Classroom program is updating its kits, and after receiving a $5,000 grant from Libro Credit Union, wants to get more farmers involved.
At a recent meeting held at Errol Road School, a group of farmers met to discuss potential ideas and resources. Hooghiem said all agreed they want to dispel some of the myths people may have about agriculture, particularly about livestock and their treatment.
Farmers, Krall said, care about the welfare of their animals.
“It’s our livelihood,” she said. “During the snow storm five years ago we were out there making sure our farmers had food and water.”