Partnership Aims to Promote Agriculture

April 02, 2009 - News Release

The University of Guelph's Ontario Agricultural College (OAC) hopes to inform high school students about agriculture-related careers and to increase enrolment through a new agreement signed today.

The partnership with the Bluewater District School Board also aims to help smooth the path for high school students heading to degree or diploma programs in agriculture.

It will exempt high school graduates of the specialist high skills major in agriculture from introductory agriculture courses during subsequent studies at U of G or its regional campuses in Ridgetown, Kemptville and Alfred. It will also enable students enrolled in the secondary school major to explore university experiences at Guelph or its regional campuses during Grade 11 or 12.

Today's signing was attended by George Zegarac, deputy minister of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, as well as officials from U of G and the Bluewater board.

"This articulation agreement between the University of Guelph and the Bluewater District School Board is a major innovation for students in our program," said Jean Stephenson, superintendent of school success.

Among other things, it will prepare students for a seamless entry to post-secondary education, she said. "We hear from students that it will be a factor in their post-secondary school selection."

Prof. Peter Pauls, acting associate dean (academic) of OAC, says the goal is to expose students to the range of issues and opportunities.

"An agriculture degree doesn't close doors, it opens new doors," Pauls says, adding that there's more to careers in agriculture than farming. As Ontario's second largest industry, the agri-food sector offers wide-ranging job options, including banking, food processing, sales and marketing and communications.

The Bluewater board runs 11 secondary schools from Tobermory southward to Kincardine and east to Dundalk and has about 7,000 students.

High skills programs are already being offered this year at school boards in Ontario, including programs in agriculture, arts and culture, business, the environment, hospitality and tourism. Last year, Pauls was invited to consult with the Ministry of Education on the agriculture major curriculum.

Students enrolled in specialist high skills major programs can focus on a specific economic sector while completing their secondary school diploma. Students in Grades 11 and 12 take specific courses — including certificate or training courses — and pursue experiential learning and activities at university or college.

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, Ext. 53338,, or Barry Gunn, Ext. 56982,

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Guelph, Ontario, N1G 2W1