Saskatoon

Feds announce funding for Sask. agriculture, climate change education

Federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna announced $97,100 in funding for Agriculture in the Classroom Saskatchewan.

Money will help supplement existing environmental science curriculum, says teacher

A tractor sits in a field during harvest in Saskatchewan. The federal government announced more than $97,000 in funding Friday for Agriculture in the Classroom Saskatchewan, which aims to integrate issues of climate change and agricultural practices into science classes. (Mike Zartler/CBC)

A program promoting climate action and agriculture in the classroom has just received $97,100 toward its mission.

The federal funding, which comes from the government's Climate Action Fund, was announced by the federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna on Friday.

The funding will be directed to Agriculture in the Classroom Saskatchewan, a charity which aims to integrate issues of climate change and agricultural practices into science classes through hands-on, curriculum-based resources and programs.

"I think a lot of our teachers in Saskatchewan are moving less lecture-focused into more action-based focused," said Carla Cooper, the president of the Saskatchewan Science Teachers Society.

Her goal is to teach students about climate change so they can take action in Saskatchewan and abroad.

It's important, she said, to look at the global picture "and what's happening with the climate and what these young adults can do as citizens."

Her students, she said, are engaged in environmental issues now more than ever. Some try to litter less, while others are focused on cleaning up the ocean.

Cooper said things have changed since she was in high school — both in terms of climate and education.

Students take control

The environment — and how best to address climate change — have become issues across Canada, and Saskatchewan is no different. 

That includes a national debate on the federal carbon tax, which has become a legal issue in Saskatchewan.

The province's Sask. Party government did not create its own carbon tax plan, so a federal tax was imposed on the province by the Liberal government.

A court ruling found the federal government's move constitutional — a decision the province is now appealing to the Supreme Court. The court will hear the challenge next January.

Scott Moe addresses the hundreds of people who participated in an anti-carbon tax rally in Regina on April 4. Teacher Carla Cooper says her students have shown an interest in the debate around the carbon tax. (Adam Hunter/CBC)

Secondary school students in Saskatchewan have noticed the debate — and they have opinions.

Many of the young adults in Cooper's class at Lumsden High School live rurally or on farms. The town is located just 30 kilometres from the legislature in Regina.

"If we're talking about carbon tax, we have a lot of farming families around here, so I let them debate the carbon tax," she said.

"I let my students' passions drive my teaching."

Cooper helped write the curriculum for environmental science in the province. But she's open to feeling the class out every year. She doesn't even plan a full year-long course.

Like the debate around issues of climate change and agriculture, students' interpretations and interests are susceptible to the winds of change, Cooper said.

"You have to be willing to be unsure where your lessons are going and be OK with that."

About the Author

Bridget Yard

Reporter

Bridget Yard is a video journalist based in Saskatoon. She has also worked for CBC in Fredericton and Bathurst, N.B.

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