New project brings land stewardship practices to rural students
Edmonton, AB – Rural Alberta Development Fund Board of Directors approved $900,000 in funding towards an agricultural education program aimed at providing students with entrepreneurial, leadership and business management skills. Led by the Fort Vermilion School Division, the Rocky Lane School Agricultural Program will offer off-campus learning opportunities through the operation of a farm/ranch as part of the provincial curriculum, while creating a collaborative framework between the school and neighbouring farming and First Nations communities.
“The Rocky Lane School Agricultural Program not only allows Alberta’s youth to graduate from school, but will provide hands-on experience and encourage active participation in our agriculture sector,” said the Honourable Evan Berger, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development. “Agriculture is the backbone of Alberta’s economy, and better equipping the younger generation to succeed will advance both rural development and agriculture in our province.”
Through mixed agricultural activities, including crops/vegetable gardens, greenhouse and animal husbandry, students will learn how to plan, design, market and manage micro-businesses. The agricultural program will prepare students for good citizenship, the workplace and post-secondary education while improving student engagement, achievement and high school completion rates. Two existing strategies aimed at expanding program options and delivery to students will be available for the agricultural program – the BLAST (Busy Learning and Serving Together) program and the Mobile CTS (Career and Technology Studies) labs.
“A unique project like this doesn’t just benefit the students but the community as a whole, as maintaining the vibrancy and operation of rural schools is crucial to sustaining the surrounding community, students and families,” said Marie Logan, Chair of the Board of Directors, Rural Alberta Development Fund. “This project has tremendous value as it has the potential to be a model for other rural schools and communities to implement in their regions.”
With Fort Vermilion School Division taking on leadership and governance of the project, partnerships with key stakeholders have also been formed with Beaver First Nations, Rocky Lane Agricultural Society and Rocky Lane School. Utilizing existing infrastructure, these three partners will provide land and farm equipment, a community hall and indoor riding arena and classroom instruction and supervision, respectively, working to revitalize the school and unite the community through the agricultural-based program.
Funding from the Rural Alberta Development Fund will go towards staffing, marketing, promotional materials, administration and financial tracking, training and development as well as transportation and travel costs. The project is slated for completion in December 2013.
Rural Alberta Development Fund is a not-for-profit company that inspires innovation, collaboration and growth across rural Alberta. In 2007, it was capitalized with $100 million by the Government of Alberta as part of its Rural Development Strategy. So far, $95.4 million has been committed to 81 projects. The remaining funds will be committed by March 31, 2012. Expressions of Interest are no longer being accepted.
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For more information, contact:
Communications & Program Coordinator
Rural Alberta Development Fund
Fort Vermilion School Division #52