By Brandy Harrison
CHESTERVILLE Up until last year, 17-year-old Jacob Jaquemet had his sights set on being a trucker. But a program that brings the farm to the classroom has him mulling a career closer to his farm roots as a mechanic in GPS technology.
“Not only do I want to stay farming but do many other things technology-wise. I want to upgrade the farm and pitch ideas to my father,” says the Grade 12 student at North Dundas District High School in Chesterville, whose family runs a Winchester dairy and crop operation.
For the last two years, Jaquemet and 28 other students about half are from farms have used class time to pump up their ag know-how through a specialist high skills major in agriculture, a Ministry of Education program for Grade 11 and 12 students that started in 2006. It allows students to tailor classroom learning to a career and get a leg up on certifications required in the workplace or by post-secondary programs.
An agriculture major is offered in four Eastern Ontario schools North Dundas, Char-Lan District High School in Williamstown, Seaway District High School in Iroquois, and Vankleek Hill Collegiate Institute.
They earn industry certifications for free, including first aid, nutrient management, and combine fundamentals, and take field trips to local farms and dealerships.
At a recent stop at Derks Elevator Inc. in Chesterville, with advice from industry specialists, students were on the clock during a six-hour training session to solve a challenge: how to get young people hyped about agriculture.
The school will hold an open house on April 1 to showcase its shop and greenhouse to attract more ag co-op placements.
Jaquemet says his father is giving him more hands-on experience on the farm but the chance to get face time with industry specialists has shown him what else is out there. He says he still has a lot to learn.
“I thought before farming was too easy. It isnt just a piece of cake.”