VOLUNTEERS NEEDED CAP’s volunteer force is 200 strong, but more are always welcome
For more than 25 years, many Grade 4 students in Alberta have had the opportunity to learn where their food comes from, thanks to the Classroom Agriculture Program (CAP).
The organization was created by Vickie King, a member of the Alberta Women in Support of Agriculture. In 1985, she received some initial funding from the Alberta Cattle Commission to jump-start the program. Current sponsors include the Alberta Barley Commission, Alberta Beef Producers, Alberta Canola Producers Commission, Alberta Chicken Producers, Alberta Egg Producers, Alberta Pulse Growers Commission, Alberta Veterinary Medical Association, Eastern Irrigation District, Alberta Irrigation Project Association, Olds College and Agrium.
Volunteers visit Grade 4 classrooms around the province and teach students about the importance of agriculture to their daily lives. Since its inception, more than 550,000 students have had access to the free program.
“It’s all volunteers who go into the Grade 4 classrooms. Every volunteer comes from some kind of agricultural background and gives it a little bit of their own spin. If they are a farmer, they might give it more of a farm spin, if they are a beef producer, they might have more information on raising cattle, but there is a core curriculum that we all use,” said Linda Whitworth, a volunteer and steering committee member for CAP, as well as the market development manager for the Alberta Barley Commission.
The interactive lessons are fun, visual and hands on. Volunteers are supplied with educational tools including stories, props such as grain samples and beef byproducts to help the children learn in a playful way. Additionally, students receive an activity booklet and teachers are given a resource kit to help the students continue with their agricultural education after the session is over.
Open to both rural and urban students, CAP has been endorsed by Alberta Agriculture and each year, the program’s content is reviewed and approved by the minister of education.
“I’ve been in five classrooms this year and it’s really interesting to see the kids and to talk to them, because everyone now is so far removed from the farm, particularly in the urban centres. It’s a great program for them to learn a little bit about a whole area they might never know anything about,” said Whitworth.
There are 200 volunteers involved in the program, but more are always welcome. Teachers interested in the presentation must register before December of each school year, and volunteers must sign up before February. Perfectly timed with calving and seeding, the presentations are delivered between March and June. For more information or to register to become a volunteer, visit www.classroomagriculture.com.