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AgScape helps enlighten students to agriculture opportunities

Whether selling 90,000 bushels of corn or learning about what soil can do to a pair of buried cotton underwear, approximately 100 students from Mitchell District High School (MDHS) were given a unique look into the wonderful world of agriculture Oct. 11.
 
Known as AgScape (officially Ontario Agri-Food Education Inc.), the registered charity brought their message to Grade 10 and 12 students of MDHS, plus those who are taking a high skills major, all in an attempt to educate students about food and farming and help dispel myths that agriculture is all manual work in the barn or in the field.
 
Mercedes Unwin, senior programmer and resource coordinator with AgScape, said one-in-eight jobs across Canada are agriculture related.
 
“For every graduate there are four jobs available to them,” she said. “We dispel the misconception that it’s not only farming or processing of food – those are important – but there’s also many opportunities out there.
 
Things such as marketing, event planning, seeds, technology, humanities or sciences, “you can find an avenue in agriculture,” she said.
 
The lack of consumer knowledge about food and farming systems is a contributing factor to the economic challenges facing Ontario’s agri-food industry. Myths about food and farming constantly challenge the growth and progress of the agri-food industry, Unwin continued, adding that since agriculture is currently not recognized as a separate subject within the Ontario curriculum, they help bring it to the students.
 
On average they reach 300,000 students across the province in some manner, whether it be going to classrooms, running events or through their agri-trucking virtual games on their website.
 
“We’re definitely busier, and now with more growth and emphasis on marketing and outreach, a lot more teachers know about us,” Unwin said. “Especially when all our services are free, there’s no reason not to have us in.”
 
The day in Mitchell was split into two time slots with approximately 50 students at each, divided equally into five different stations that rotated every 10-minutes. The stations focused on food processing, genetics, grain marketing, soil conservation and financial literacy.
 
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