Collège Boréal aims to provide mentorship, education to aspiring farmers

Collège Boréal has begun offering a two-year agricultural technician diploma this fall, and program organizers hope the students are ready for good, hard work.

Collège Boréal hopes new agricultural students ready for hard work in ‘hands-on’ program

Collège Boréal welcomes its first students into the agricultural technician program this fall. (Brian Vaillancourt)
What can agricultural students learn from farmers already in the industry? College Boreal has a new program which uses mentorship to teach new farmers. Brian Vaillancourt, the Dean of the School of Natural Resource at Boreal tols us more about it.
Collège Boréal has begun offering a two-year diploma for aspiring farmers this fall, and program organizers hope the students are ready for good, hard work.

"It's a very hands-on program," said Brian Vaillancourt, the dean of the college's School of Environment and Natural Resources, "they'll get to visit farms, work on a farm, apply theory that they're learning in school here."

Vaillancourt also expects recent improvements to the college's infrastructure will bolster the program.

"We've got presently three greenhouses on campus and we'll be adding the rooftop greenhouse by 2018," he said.

But the program isn't just about tilling the soil. The course focuses on both plant and animal sciences. Vaillancourt said today's farmers have to be versed in business and technology trends, besides agricultural duties.

Each student will work in an incubator concept, where they do a business start-up, either on campus or a designated site if they have one, said Vaillancourt. At the same time they will receive mentoring from others in the same specialized field or industry.

Part of the challenge of educating potential farmers is that many of them haven't grown up on farms, or had traditional skills passed down through family members, Vaillancourt said.

"Less and less people are familiar, or have grown up in the farming environment, so it's something for a lot of people that's foreign to them," said Vaillancourt, "we have to reintroduce people to farming and how validating it can be as a career."

This year's students will put their business concept together this fall, start this winter and it will be ongoing during the summer and next year.

Listen to the interview here.

With files from Angela Gemmill. Edited/packaged by Casey Stranges


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