Agriculture and food education of high school students in Ontario

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Wilkinson, Christine
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University of Guelph

This research project aims to explore agriculture and food education programs, policies and curricula for high school students in Ontario, Canada. It seeks to understand the perceptions students have of their knowledge in agriculture, and evaluates the agriculture and food knowledge students actually have to determine how agriculturally literate they are. An understanding of the agri-food sector is important for a number of reasons that are discussed throughout this paper. This study employs a mainly qualitative methods approach to primary and secondary data collection. Some of the key organizations in Ontario that exist to nonformally educate young people about agriculture and food are summarized and discussed. Online surveys distributed to students in a rural and urban school of a school board in the Greater Toronto Area provide an understanding of their knowledge and perceptions. The surveys help to determine students' common sources of information and whether they would like to further explore the subject of agriculture for further learning and their career. This project also analyzed the Ontario high school science curricula to find themes of agriculture and food throughout. Lastly, recommendations for policy, programs and further research highlight the importance of youth learning about agriculture and food to ensure they are able to make informed decisions as consumers, improve their health, and become aware of the vast opportunities in the industry.

agriculture education program, agricultural literacy, agri-food sector, food education program, policy, curricula, high school students, Ontario