A warm welcome to the newest member of our AITC-M team, Jessica Painter! Jessica joins AITC-M in the role of Education Specialist and brings plenty of teaching experience. Having taught in Thompson and her hometown of Portage la Prairie, Jessica has taken on a wide variety of subjects with enthusiasm, including social sciences, sciences, physical education, drama, art — even resource management.

Get to know a bit more about Jessica in our Q&A.

What's been your career path to date?

After high school, I went to university, got my teaching degree and started as a teacher in Thompson, Manitoba for two years. I taught everything from astro-geology to French immersion phys-ed, biology— drama and art were in there too.

After that, I came back home to Portage la Prairie and taught there for about seven years while also obtaining my Post. Bac. In Education. I taught a huge variety of things there — a ton of social sciences and sciences, phys-ed, and some other classes thrown in there like Current Topics in First Nations, Metis and Inuit Studies.

My friend sent me the AITC-M job posting. She said, "This would be perfect for you!" Even though I don't have a personal background in agriculture, I can't take a step in any direction without running into a connection. A lot of my friends are in the agriculture business in one way or another. My sister married into it, her husband has a family farm, and my dad grew up on a dairy farm. My cousin is a chemist who works with pea proteins, our neighbors are farmers, and our house borders a field on two sides, all that just made this job seem like a natural fit.

After a week on the job, what's most exciting about your role with AITC-M?

How energetic and how connected the whole team is. Everybody has a goal and has a "let's have fun, let's do an amazing job" attitude, I just love how passionate everybody is. I'm so excited to join the team with that type of work environment and do projects that are both exciting and make a difference.

How do you personally connect with the vision of AITC-M that every student graduates with agriculture literacy?

I really see the importance of everybody understanding agriculture, because we all eat — and especially nowadays when there's so much access to misinformation or misguided information. That's where I see the importance of having an organization like AITC-M, where we help to bridge that and ensure that the students and educators of Manitoba who may not necessarily be educated in agriculture have access to quality information that will help them understand what the reality is for them here in Manitoba and how that may be different than other places in the world.

We want to make that learning easier for them too, so I'm excited in my role to take some of the load off the teachers and give the students access to that information in fun, innovative ways.