Friday, February 25th, 2011 marked a banner day in farming history with the first Blue Seal Certificates being awarded to five young men from Prince Edward Island, Canada. The Farm Technician Apprenticeship Program is the only apprenticeship of its kind in Canada, combining on-farm experience with in-class training.
Jeff Stewart, Basil Attwood, Chad Lawless, Kyle MacLeod and Lawrance Purdy are the first official Farm Technicians in Prince Edward Island, in Canada even. Dr. Leslie MacLaren, Co-President of the Nova Scotia Agricultural College told them in her address that "you can now confidently call yourself a professional".
This group of young men has spent the past three years in training for this program by attending 8 weeks of classroom learning with 10 months of log book skills upgrading. The 8-week classroom sessions began with courses such as farm safety and preventative maintanence and in their third year of the program they learned about farm financial programs, attained their 3A Class licence, and endured intense courses regarding cropping systems and weed management.
The Prince Edward Island Minister of Agriculture, George Webster, said to the group, "farm labour is not what it used to be" and went on to say that the farm labourer needs to be highly skilled and that "knowledge is the key to continuous progress."
Sarah MacDonald, NSAC's Manager of Continuing Education said that adult learners have a strong connection to what they are learning and it showed through their commitment to the program. These five graduates of the Farm Technician Program "are leading the way for others to follow."
In my opinion, this program is exceptional. I would offer up a few changes but on the whole, farming is now a job that needs a professional status. There are so many skills needed to be a farmer or a farm worker in this century. With the farming community reducing in size, what used to be considered common sense on the farm is now an unknown skill that needs to be taught, hence the need for an apprenticeship program.
Check out the link to the NSAC Press Release regarding the graduation of the first Blue Seal recipients of the Farm Apprenticeship Technician Program on February 25th, 2011:
NSAC delivers educational component of unique farm apprenticeship program