Whether it is horseshoe making, cattle vaccinating, or stream management, local agriculture experts provide hands-on experience and career guidance to over 20 students from Burns Lake, Fort St. James, Fraser Lake, and Vanderhoof last week.
Taking place from Sept. 27 to 29, the 26th annual Project Agriculture of Nechako Lakes school district not only gave Grade 10 to 12 students a snapshot of the agriculture industry, but also connect them with local employers for future opportunities, said Darren Carpenter, career and programs coordinator of School District No. 91.
With senior students given higher priority, applicants to the project are selected according to their interest in agriculture demonstrated by experience and future plans.
“If any of it sticks, it’s up to the students to touch base with us afterwards to spend a full day alone to job shadow, which may either turn into a job or at least clarify what works and what doesn’t for their future plans,” Carpenter said.
Supported by in-kind donations from local businesses, the three-day program kicked off with animal assessment and care at the Nechako Valley Animal Health Services, horseshoe forging with farrier Calvin Read, and cattle processing with Little Valley Farms’ team at BC Livestock’s auction yard. On the second and third day on rotational stations, students learned about ATV safety, horsemanship, hay hauling, dairy operations, as well as stream stewardship on DMS Farm. The project then wrapped up with meat cutting by Vanderhoof and Districts Co-op and sturgeon conservation at the Nechako White Sturgeon Conservation Centre.
Explaining animal illnesses and care through ultrasound scans and surgical equipment, veterinary technician Kelly Beal also participated in the project when she was a high school student.
“We didn’t have the vet clinic component, but we got a vet speaker,” Beal said. “I then followed up with him to learn more.”
Brian Adams at DMS Farm taught students how to operate a farm tractor with its loader attachment.
“Just to give the students a bit of exposure on where their food is coming from, what we’re doing in the land and with the land,” Adams said. “So there’s more to just planting vegetables and potatoes on the ground.”
For Grade 11 student Joanna Penner from Nechako Valley Secondary, it was an opportunity to explore different farm management styles.
“I’ve grown up on a farm and never been sure what I wanted to do,” Penner said. “I enjoyed all of [the project,] but it’s more interesting how farms are run differently.
“I was looking at agriculture management, the business and cattle-work sides of it.”
Kasha Obarianyk from Lakes District Secondary also grew up with farming, but the project offered more than that for her.
“To get experience on what I haven’t done before,” Obarianyk said. “The dairy farm [here] was cool.”