Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

April 19, 2000

New camp aims to boost interest in agri-food careers

More than 800 Grade 8 and Grade 11 students from rural Ontario will attend new camps at the University of Guelph designed to interest them in careers in the agri-food industry.

The pilot "Agri-Food Choices" camps will run May 1 and 2, May 3 and 4, May 10 and 11 and May 29 and 30. Students will be introduced to leading-edge research and gain help with career planning.

The camps are the first endeavor of the Consortium to Launch Agri-food Career Choices Into Action, initiated last fall. Composed of representatives from seven high schools in rural southwestern Ontario and U of G's Ontario Agricultural College (OAC), the consortium complements key features of Ontario's secondary school curriculum reform that call for greater community involvement.

"The consortium will provide collaboration with the community and build connections between students," said Frank Robbins, academic assistant in the OAC dean's office and organizer of the Agri-Food Choices camps. "It's proven that mentoring works."

Eight U of G undergraduate students have been trained by the Ontario Agricultural Training Institute and Ontario Agri-Food Education to interact effectively and mentor students. The camps also involve about 35 Guelph staff and faculty.

Students will rotate through four agri-food research modules on nutraceuticals, space agriculture, fistulate cows, and water conservation. "We hope there will be lots of debate about issues such as biotechnology and animal welfare," Robbins said. "We want to hear what the students have to say."

Three career modules focusing on career planning, strategies for success, and setting short- and long-term goals will help students with decisions about their futures.

Grade 8 students from the Kincardine, Mt. Forest, Ridgetown, and Delhi areas will attend the first three camps, and Grade 11 students from all schools in the Consortium will attend the fourth camp. The consortium also includes schools from Seaforth and Windsor.

"Unless we help students explore opportunities in the agri-food system from Grade 8 upwards, they won't be able to build enough understanding to make informed career decisions," said Carol Telford, a guidance teacher at the Waterloo-Oxford District Secondary School in Baden and one of the consortium's main catalysts.

Contact: Frank Robbins, OAC Dean's Office (519) 824-4120, Ext. 4549

For media questions, contact Communication and Public Affairs, 824-4120, Ext. 3338

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