If you went back in time and told eight-year-old Carine she would grow up to be a plant geneticist, she would have laughed in your face -- even if she knew what a plant geneticist was.

"The only thing I ever wanted to be was an astronaut," says the now-17-year-old Grade 12 student of her younger self. "I was a sci-fi fan and was only interested in other planets."

What brought Carine back down to earth – one small step at a time – was a series of encounters with Agriculture in the Classroom-Manitoba.

We've had the chance to inspire many students through our programs, resources, and events at AITC-M. Today I want to share Carine's story because it highlights the impact we have, and our potential to shape a better world by helping students discover agriculture. I hope it inspires you to consider supporting our December Giving campaign.

Your gift will have double the impact thanks to MacDon Industries, who is matching every donation until December 31st.

For Carine, the impact of our work started in Grade 3, when her teacher adopted our Little Green Thumbs classroom gardening program.

"At first I was excited because growing a garden indoors made me think of experiments on the space shuttle I'd read about," she explains. "Seeing how our plants did well or not, depending on light and water and soil, and then being able to eat the results at the end of the year just blew me away. We grew our own food from nothing, and it all happened right before our eyes!"

She had her eyes opened again in Grade 7 during a class field trip to the Manitoba Ag Days Adventure in Brandon.

"We played this game called the World Game, where all these things came together: global population, how agriculture struggled to keep up with food security, all the ways food gets imported and exported, and I remember thinking back to my little indoor garden. That was so simple, and this game was so complex. But I started wondering, how hard it would be to solve some of these problems?"

An inspiring Grade 10 class unit in environmental science and a passionate teacher got Carine thinking even harder about her own future and how she could help solve some of the problems facing our world today, including food scarcity and climate change.

"The astronaut dream had kind of gone away by that time, but I didn't know what else I wanted to do – although my science grades were good, so that was an option. Then my teacher encouraged me to write this essay for something called the Global Youth Institute. That's probably the point where I really started to imagine some new possibilities for my future."

In her research paper, Carine let her inner "sci-fi geek" shine as she outlined some futuristic ideas for local food production. Her paper scored her a trip to the actual GYI conference, where – along with her teacher and mentor – she had the chance to connect with other experts, leaders and students who were as fixated on food security and science as she was.

"I discovered just how close we are to realizing some of my crazier ideas, and how far we still have to go."

What excited her most was hearing from a genetic engineer who spoke about the possibilities of creating more nutritious, resilient crops capable of thriving in tough climates and changing environments.

"I got back to school and I doubled down on my science courses, because I knew exactly where I wanted to go next," she laughs. Next fall, she hopes to begin classes in the University of Manitoba's Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences. Her goal is to become a plant geneticist and help develop the crops of the future.

"The solutions to all our problems are right here in front of us if we know where to look," she says. "Our planet is too precious not to give it all our attention. I can always dream of other planets, but right now, I'm focussing on helping this one."

There are so many students like Carine, who discover agriculture in a way that piques their curiosity and leads to a deeper appreciation of how agriculture is an opportunity for them to solve the world’s problems.

As a charitable non-profit, we need your help to inspire more students like Carine. Demand for new and virtual resources continues to grow, and we receive weekly requests from teachers for virtual programs and professional development opportunities.

With your support, we can help every student in Manitoba discover career opportunities they might never have imagined on their own, understand agriculture’s important to our future, and become tomorrow’s innovators and leaders.

These goals are AITC-M’s north star. They guide everything we do. They may sound like a stretch, but – with your support – achieving them is entirely within our reach. 

Thank you MacDon for understanding this need, and for doubling our ability to reach more students like Carine in 2022.

Will you help us make the most of MacDon's generous offer today? Every little bit helps. A gift of $50 or more will make you a member of AITC-M. Please help us Drive Discovery by going to our donation page and make your donation today.
Thank you so much for your continued support!
Take care and stay safe,

Sue Clayton
Executive Director