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Monday, March 26, 2018

Concern Over Future of Agriculture Program

Chesley | by John Divinski  

Arran-Elderslie councillor looks for assurances from Bluewater District School Board trustees

(photo by Glen Lindsey) 

An Arran Elderslie farmer is concerned about what he believes is an apparent lack of support for the Specialist High Skills Major Agriculture Program at Chesley District Community School.

The program became a sattelite program last September after the school became a JK to Grade 8 facility, with the high school students being shipped off to other high schools in the region.

Steve Hammell, who is also an Arran Elderslie councillor, spoke to Bluewater District School Board trustees March 20, saying the Ag Program has historically had high enrolment but this year, as a sattelite program, it has suffered what he calls a "setback."

Hammell says he believes there are two main reasons for the downward trend.

He says there is "No transportation available to students who want to participate in the program and some students were not aware or educated about the availability of the ag program."

Hammell urged trustees to make sure every guidance department in every Bluewater secondary school, be brought up to speed on details of the program.

He suggests many students only hear of the opportunity through word of mouth.

He wants more advertising done so students can learn first-hand about the agriculture program and then make a decision on whether or not they wish to pursue the course.

Hammell tells trustees there are several groups and organizations that are ready to help make sure the program continues but they want assurances from the trustees that the board is committed to the program.

He says food has become "very complicated" with all types of concerns about how food is grown and processed.

Hammell suggests education is the key and the Chesley agriculture program must be continued.

He says there are 4 jobs for every ag grad in Ontario right now and the industry needs skilled workers.

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