“It’s a natural fit.” That’s how Connie Tamoto, Cargill’s senior manager of corporate responsibility, describes the twenty-plus-year partnership between one of the world’s largest food and agriculture companies and Agriculture in the Classroom—Manitoba.

Cargill has supported AITC-M from the very beginning. When AITC-M formed in 1988 with a mission to teach kids where their food comes from, Cargill stepped up with funding for programs and events that aligned with its core values. 

“From the moment AITC-M began, we saw tremendous value in its mission. We’re both passionate about sharing how food gets from the farmer’s gate to the dinner plate, and inspiring young people to pursue the incredible career opportunities in agriculture. By supporting AITC-M programs and events, we help share Manitoba’s food and agriculture story with thousands of students each year, while  inspiring the next generation of agriculture leaders to shape the future of our industry.” 

Cargill is a global food corporation with offices in 70 countries. It employs 155,000 professionals in food, agriculture, nutrition, and risk management. Founded in 1865, the company has grown into the largest privately held corporation in the U.S. (in terms of revenue), focusing on helping farmers grow more while advancing nutrition, food safety and sustainability.

“We believe agriculture education is how we will empower the next generation to innovate and  create solutions to solve some of the world’s biggest challenges like world hunger ,” says Tamoto. “There's so much misinformation out there about where food comes from and how it's produced. AITC-M’s dedication to developing accurate, balanced, and current resources that are linked to curriculum gives them real credibility. They are here for a purpose, and that is to help Manitoba teachers connect students to agriculture through fun, interactive and engaging hands-on activities.”

Each year, Cargill provides support – financial and volunteer - to AITC-M initiatives such as Little Green Thumbs and the Amazing Ag Adventure.

“We love Little Green Thumbs because it teaches  kids how vegetables are grown from seed while addressing sustainable food production and urban food security challenges, both areas we want to make a positive impact in. The Amazing Ag Adventure in Brandon and Winnipeg is a great way for our employees to engage with kids in the community and share our passion for agriculture..”

Volunteerism is another cornerstone of Cargill’s community relations. The company’s volunteer-led Cargill Cares Councils work with communities to determine the best ways to support local needs and opportunities. In addition, Cargill employees are encouraged to share their expertise by volunteering for local organizations such as AITC-M. Each year, for instance, Cargill volunteers visit Manitoba classrooms to read stories to young students during Canadian Agricultural Literacy Month (CALM).

The company measures the impact of its support through the number of students it connects with, the success of each program it supports, and how these programs evolve to meet emerging industry needs and challenges.

According to these criteria, Tamoto gives AITC-M an A+.

“We’re excited to see more stories about BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and other people of colour) farmers and how AITC-M is working with youth from under-served communities. We’re inspired by the impact they’re having. As a member, we’re proud to be a part of their success.”