Tackling tough questions in the classroom: Johanne Ross on her work with AITC

Johanne Ross, Ag in the Classroom Canada

The Canadian Agriculture Hall of Fame recognizes contributors to agriculture from all different backgrounds. After all, it takes all kinds to make this industry successful, including educating children about agriculture.

Recent inductee Johanne Ross, executive director of Agriculture in the Classroom Canada, joined Shaun Haney on RealAg Radio to talk about her career at AITC and moving the needle to connect with children.

Ross’ reaction after she got the call? “I have never been more surprised or shocked, and I actually thought that maybe it was a joke,” she says. After the shock wore off Ross was thrilled, honoured, and thankful.

Starting with AITC’s Manitoba offshoot, Ross has been doing agriculture education outreach for 22 years, when the organization was still getting ramped up. Ross got on board just at the right time, when there was a growing interest in increasing agriculture content in classrooms.

One of the turning points for the program was implementing experiential learning by connecting with farmers and industry people, to bring those experiences to a classroom setting. Around 2013 was when agriculture education groups realized they needed a national voice, and Ross stepped up, eventually building a vibrant national network.

Ross’ work is never really done either, as complexity in the agriculture industry builds, and people seem to be further removed from knowing how their food is produced.

“It’s still a long road to hoe, but the key is getting the folks who work in agriculture — the farmers and the folks who work in the long food-chain system— telling our honest and transparent stories, and not being afraid to do that,” says Ross, adding that industry professionals are in the classroom to answer the tough questions, and perhaps inspire a student to get into agriculture.

Listen to the full conversation below:

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