The Ag-Awareness Program at the Norfolk County Fair & Horse Show (NCF) has provided generations of youth an opportunity to learn the importance of agriculture and how it impacts the world around them. Originally created in 1982 as a consumer awareness component of the fair by long-time volunteers Walter and Sharon Petheram, it evolved into a youth agricultural awareness program which officially launched in 1990 for the NCF’s 150th Anniversary.
With upwards of 1,400 grade four students participating annually, the ag-awareness program explores the ways in which youth have a key role to play within the industry. The program shows how everyone relies on agriculture – from food to fiber to natural resources and beyond – and how agricultural skills, like science, math and technology, are fundamental elements of the modern sustainable farm operation.
The informed understanding of farming is a key component of the Ontario curriculum through Ag-Literacy. As populations become more urban, it’s a chance for youth to see first-hand both traditional and modern agriculture – from milking cows, sheering sheep and tacking up a horse. Needless to say, participants of all ages learn from and enjoy seeing such skills.
The success of the program relies solely on its army of volunteers, many of whom have remained with the program since inception, and the continued commitment of area farmers. As a result, the program has been recognized as a leading example from within and outside the industry. It has also been used as a principle model of how to coordinate, organize, present and teach ag-awareness programming.
The Ag-Awareness program addresses topics such as:
• Food safety, quality and security
• Farm safety
• Animal welfare
• Crop and livestock varieties
• Conservation, resources and environmental sustainability
• Diet and nutrition
• Traditions and heritage of rural agriculture
The Ag-Awareness Program has had a lasting impact through its ability to educate and engage youth for over 30 years. The program and its volunteers should be commended on this huge accomplishment.
Click through the gallery below for photographs of the Ag-Awareness Program in action at the Norfolk County Fair.