AgScape Launches Campaign to Fill the Shoes of Tomorrow’s Agriculture Leaders
Jim McMillan considers himself fortunate. He operates a cash crop and market garden farm with his son Ian in Wainfleet, Ontario and unlike many producers and aging farmers, Jim knows who will fill his shoes when he retires. “Other producers aren’t so lucky, and I wonder who is going to carry on the business of providing safe and nutritious food for generations to come?” said Jim. That’s why he has been a long-time supporter of AgScape, a charitable organization that delivers curriculum-linked agriculture and food learning materials and programming in classrooms across Ontario. “We need to get the word out to all students about the opportunities available to them in all aspects [of] agriculture. AgScape is doing the groundwork to spread agriculture and food literacy in classrooms to help ensure a sustainable and prosperous industry but they need support to reach more students.” Jim is hoping that Ontario farmers and producers will follow his lead and donate to AgScape’s, province-wide fundraising campaign which runs now until December 31st. The campaign “Fill the Shoes of Tomorrow’s Agriculture Leaders” agscape.ca/helpfillshoes aims to raise much needed funds to support the development and delivery of hands-on programs to help youth learn about the agriculture and food sector and encourage them to pursue exciting agriculture careers. “With Ontario’s agriculture industry on track to having more than 40,000 vacant jobs by 2025, this begs the question of who will fill the shoes of today’s farmers, food scientists, production managers and equipment mechanics? The answer depends on whether we are able to engage students about these careers that lie ahead,” said Glenna Banda, Executive Director, AgScape. “We need the help of businesses and individuals in the agri-food sector to ensure that agriculture education gets into Ontario classrooms. Through their financial contribution, they will support us to connect youth to the innovative and thriving world of agriculture and food, and to ignite their interest in careers to ensure a strong future for the industry.” AgScape has been working hard to build relationships and trust with Ontario schools. Since the start of the 2019 – 2020 school year, more than 500 Teacher Ambassador Program lessons have already been requested. “The demand for our programs is higher than ever. But the reality is that we need financial support to keep up with the demand and to reach more students. We are grateful to be partially funded by OMAFRA but we need additional funds so that we can grow our capacity to support these teachers who want curriculum-linked agriculture and food education in their classrooms,” said Banda. Donations to the campaign can be made online at this address: www.agscape.ca/helpfillshoes or by mail to: AgScape, 8560 Tremaine Road, P.O. Box 460, Milton Ontario, L9T 4Z1.