Members of the Kelvington 4H Grain club are learning all to soon that at certain times of the year, holidays and long weekends don’t mean much to a farmer. Seasonal work doesn’t wait so holidays have to. Often farmers schedules offer them alternative times to celebrate or relax, like during the winter. But these sort of self regulated holidays don’t work very well when you are a student and a school division sets your schedule. Which is even more reason to be impressed that some of our club members gave up their day off at home to go to another school and learn!
This years field trip for our club may sound a little boring, but it was packed full of new experiences and information that directly applied to what we are learning about in a 4H Grain Club. Early on in the year I set out on a mission to find someone that would address the issue of the importance of biotechnology and plant genetics in modern day agriculture (after some great tour suggestions by the parents in our club). If you follow my writing at all you will know how I feel about farmers educating ourselves so we have the ability to answer tough questions and can help educate consumers. Who better to learn about this topic from than some university professors or research heads! The problem was, these people have actual jobs that keep them very busy and most 13-16 year olds aren’t interested in doing lab tours. This was definitely a new request for many of the people I contacted. To say I had a little trouble getting people to respond to our bright ‘4H club tour’ idea, would be a bit of an understatement.
Just as I was ready to give up and started discussing alternate tour options with the club leaders, a lone person responded to my requests. Dr. Martin Erlandson (research scientist – microbiology, insect virology) of Ag Canada answered the phone one day and offered to see what he could do to help us out. I’m not sure what hoops he and the administration had to jump through but they got us in and did a great job showing our club the work that is done at the Agriculture and AgriFood Canada Saskatoon Research Centre. The North East 4H office (thanks Jodi Schellenberg) helped me get in touch with Alicia Wehrkamp at the University and with her assistance we had a full day of learning on the U of S campus!