CBE, Olds College partner to offer AgTech high school program
The Calgary Board of Education is partnering with Olds College to launch an agriculture technology program for students in Grades 11 and 12.
As global populations continue to stretch food production limits, officials say the new program aims to create more efficiencies in agriculture while also addressing a growing labour shortage in the field.
The first offering will launch as an evening course at Nelson Mandela High School in the city’s northeast, offering agriculture technology and design through CBE’s Unique Pathways program.
Students will receive dual credit, earning both high school and college credits, as they learn about robotics, 3-D printing and computer science skills.
“We see a real niche that’s going to need to be filled in the next few decades in food production, where we use technology to be more efficient around, and so that we can keep up with world population growth,” said Jay Steeves, dean for the Werklund School of Agriculture Technology at Olds College.
“Agricultural technology can offer career opportunities in both urban and rural settings … from careers in farm settings to careers in downtown Calgary.”
Courses focused on skills needed to create agricultural efficiency
Steeves explained autonomous vehicles from tractors to combines are fast becoming a need on farms across the continent, particularly for smaller farming operations that may be short on labour in the field.
And courses like agriculture technology, he added, are where students will get the skills they need to create those efficiencies.
Ken Weipert, education director for the CBE, said the agricultural technology program will also teach students about data management for more sustainable land use, crop production, better analyzing soils, fertilizers, and more efficient yields.
“This is going to be a really great learning opportunity for students. And I know we will continue to expand on it through the years.”
The first course, ATI Design Thinking in Agriculture, launches in February. Taught by an Olds College faculty member, it will allow students to explore design thinking, processes and methodologies in a project-based team environment.
About 20 students enrolled so far.