Ontario students can now learn about genomics innovations in the agri-food sector
As part of the Ontario Regional Priorities Partnership Program (ON-RP3), the Agricultural Adaptation Council (AAC), Ontario Genomics (OG) and Genome Canada (GC) are bringing the role of genomics innovation in advancing Ontario’s agri-food sector to centre stage through innovative education programs with Farm & Food Care Ontario and AgScape.
Under Farm & Food Care Ontario’s FarmFood360 video series, five videos were created to engage the public on the role of genomics in agri-food and how it can help address food security, climate change, and animal welfare. The video series also features a 360° virtual reality-enabled tour of the state-of-the-art Elora Dairy Research Centre.
With AgScape, new educational materials ‘An Exploration of Genomics in Agriculture and Food’ were created with a Teacher’s Guide for Grades 7-12. Developed by Ontario certified teachers and food literacy experts at AgScape, with additional support through the experts at Ontario Genomics, this resource for Ontario teachers provides engaging lessons and activities to educate students on the role genomics plays in agri-food innovation and a variety of related career paths students could explore.
“We have already received great feedback from teachers across Ontario who said that this resource has filled an important gap within the curriculum in terms of addressing the importance of agriculture and food genomics to food security, food safety and climate change.” Said Mercedes Unwin, Program & Resource Manager with AgScape. “Thanks to this collaboration, teachers now feel equipped with a broader knowledge on the subject on top of having easy to use and accessible lesson plans that can be delivered to their students”.
Developed based on the six strategic priority areas for genomics-based research and innovations identified in Ontario Genomics’ report Genomics for Agriculture & Agri-Food: Ontario’s Strategic Opportunity, the aim of ON-RP3 was to drive genomics innovations targeted at advancing Ontario’s agri-food sector. Through an investment of $2.95 million, eight proof-of-concept projects were co-led by industry and academic alliances. Projects were supported based on industry identified challenges and opportunities, branching across agricultural sub-sectors such as grain farming, livestock, food processing and craft brewing.
The partnered investment from AAC, OG and GC also sought to support a public outreach initiative, broadly communicating the work done by the teams through education and outreach. Through this initiative, partnerships with Farm & Food Care Ontario and AgScape were formed, focusing on public education around the key role that genomics plays in advancing the Ontario agri-food sector.
“AAC was thrilled at the opportunity to partner with Ontario Genomics as well as two of our member organizations, Farm & Food Care Ontario and AgScape, on a public outreach initiative that targets Ontario’s youth,” said Melanie DiReto, AAC Executive Director. “Through the strategic investment in the ON-RP3 initiative, AAC is excited to support the development of innovative outreach materials to educate youth on the role genomics plays in the agri-food sector.”
“It is vital that students have access to quality educational resources explaining where their food comes from and how science is helping build a better food system,” said Bettina Hamelin, President & CEO of Ontario Genomics. “We were delighted to work with the dedicated teams at AAC, AgScape and Farm & Food Care to bring this ground-breaking science into the classroom and shed light on the amazing genomics research happening across Ontario.”