Agro-Ecology Discovery Day

Over 60 Carman Collegiate students had the opportunity to experience concepts from a year’s worth of Grade 10 Science with an Agro-Ecology Discovery Day on June 2.  A year in the planning, this day was intended to bring together many different areas the students have been studying since last fall.  Students participated in hands-on learning at six different stations at the University of Manitoba’s Ian N. Morrison Research Farm, including river bank assessment, weeds, entomology, organic agriculture systems, soil productivity and agro-meteorology.

At the riverbank site, on the west side of the farm, students learned about land stewardship in riparian areas.  Visiting the weed garden and talking to weed scientists gave way to discussion about biodiversity in different ecosystems, such as crops versus forests.  Dr. John Gavloski got the students to sweep for insects and talked about insect communities and beneficial insects.  Students got a chance see alternative methods of crop production at the organic site, also learning about biodiversity and sustainable agriculture.  Taking soil samples, assessing soil characteristics, and discussing soil conservation practices took place at soils site.  The ag-meteorology site showcased weather station equipment and how data collected from all over the province can be integrated for predicting things like frost-free periods and disease outbreaks.

The day-long event included a lunch presentation on post secondary programs available through the U. of M., Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences.  Rosanne Massinon, Grade 10 Science Teacher from Carman Collegiate observed that: “students are so much more engaged with the curriculum when they are mentored by people who “do science for a living”.

The Agro-ecology Discovery Day emerged in response to the need to inform and excite students with the new and emerging career path possibilities in Agro-ecology.  High school Science and Social Studies teachers from Carman, Elm Creek and Miami are anticipating the involvement of their students in a subsequent project next year.  The event next year has garnered additional financial support from the “Education for Sustainable Development” fund.

The active collaboration of individuals from U. of M. Carman, MAFRI, La Salle Redboine Conservation District, Manitoba Habitat Heritage Corp., and the Prairie Rose School Division resulted in an amazing and highly formative experience for students and teachers.  We are very fortunate in our rural community to have access to the resources, expertise and ‘passion for learning’ to stage such an event