As a volunteer and Vice President of AITC-M’s Board of Directors, Bonnie Bain strives to promote agriculture education through an accurate lens to Manitoba students.

She became involved with AITC-M in 2015. Dedicated and knowledgeable, she feels the organization’s programs and resources provide accurate and balanced information in comparison to misinformation that students may otherwise consume.

Bonnie began volunteering with the organization, delivering presentations during Canadian Agriculture Literacy Month (CALM) at her daughter’s school. She later became a director on AITC-M’s board in 2018 and currently serves as the Vice President.

Experience in agriculture translated to the classroom

In addition to growing up on a farm, Bonnie has been working in the agriculture industry for over 36 years, providing her with a well-rounded perspective she enjoys sharing with students. Working as a Senior Relationship Manager at Farm Credit Canada, Bonnie has experiences with many sides of the industry, giving her an understanding of the bigger picture of Manitoba agriculture.

“With my career and my background, I think the knowledge that I can provide is that I see everything — not just a grain farm, not just a dairy farm. Growing up on the farm, I can get an appreciation of all the different aspects on the farm, in my career I have been involved in just about everything: dairy farms, poultry farms, beef farms, cattle farms, hog farms. In the corporate world, I’m dealing with big companies, companies at the edge of IT and technology and AI breakthroughs, new products, new innovations in the sector. I can bring this whole gambit to my presentations, so that’s the part I really like. I’m not in an expert in any one thing, but I know a lot about many things.”

Bonnie has great passion for Agriculture in the Classroom-Manitoba. Bonnie’s experience in financial business development, customer service and leadership qualities contribute to her commitment supporting agriculture in the Manitoba school system. Laura Holtmann, President, AITC-M

Through her many classroom visits while volunteering, Bonnie recalls many experiences where students had inaccurate or incomplete views of agriculture and the industry. She recalled one particular instance that a middle years student incorrectly identified wheat.

“When showing a field of wheat, I asked the students what they thought the field was, and one student said pineapples. It shows how many of us really don’t think about the food we eat — where it was grown, how it got to the grocery store, and how complex our agriculture value chain is.”

Such experiences provided Bonnie with further need to combat misinformation surrounding agriculture by using her knowledge to educate the public with the right facts.

Bonnie’s vast knowledge of the industry has made a balanced, accurate agricultural education in classrooms a priority for her, as she stressed the importance of raising knowledgeable consumers for the next generation.

A significant concern that Bonnie raised was that many students during CALM presentations defined agriculture solely as farming, however the information presented during these classroom visits changed students’ answers.

“When we do the CALM presentations, the first questions we ask is ‘What is agriculture?’ Most students say farming and by the end of the presentation their answers are completely different, which is pretty cool.”

By sharing her knowledge of the diverse professions within the agricultural industry, Bonnie can provide students with a wider scope of the definition of agriculture. To Bonnie, accurate perspectives are everything.

“I think linking that and getting back to critical thinking and trying to instill upon the students that, ‘Okay, does that sounds right?’ ‘Is that really what agriculture is really like?’ and giving them the tools to look at agriculture in a more accurate way… that’s important. We need to present students with a balanced, accurate representation of what agriculture is so that they can see all sides of the story — then they can make up their own decision.”

Praise for the content

Bonnie appreciates how AITC-M provides a balanced perspective of the industry to provide students of what the bigger picture of agriculture looks like, as well as the organization’s focus on teachers.

“I like the fact that we’ve set up a framework of [The Pillars of Agriculture] and that we balance out the sectors of ag. The programming is geared to the teachers. A program can be good, but if it’s not easy to use, a teacher won’t use it. We focus on the teachers and how can we make these programs work for them, work within the curriculum, and give them the tools to present so that they want to use it.”

She also commented that AITC-M’s programs and resources demonstrate the technological advancement within the industry, confirming with students that the processes within food production value chain have been modernized.

“I hope that students can take away a renewed understanding of modern agriculture and how farming today differs today with technology. Even within the past five, ten, fifteen years — agriculture has changed so much.”

“I don’t feel the public truly understands the great strides that agriculture is taking to improve production practices, including animal welfare, reduced chemical use, reduced tillage practices and incorporating sustainability practices. I hope students gain an appreciation for the high-tech agriculture we know today, and maybe even realize that there are some great rewarding career opportunities in the industry.”

Being a part of a board of passionate and driven individuals in the agricultural industry is something Bonnie is extremely proud of, making the process of reaching the common goal of raising more educated consumers much simpler.

“All of the board members are extremely passionate about ag and what we do. We talk about ag as a career as well, and we market that in some of our materials. If you choose a career you really love, it doesn’t really feel like work. I feel that all my colleagues as well as my fellow AITC-M board members and volunteers are the epitome of hard-working professionals. You can really make a difference in the world, and food production is one of the most important things.”

Bonnie’s passion for agriculture has allowed her to make significant contributions to the organization during her time on the board. Laura Holtmann, President of the AITC-M Board, highlighted Bonnie’s contributions as Vice President.

“Bonnie has great passion for Agriculture in the Classroom-Manitoba. Bonnie’s experience in financial business development, customer service and leadership qualities contribute to her commitment supporting agriculture in the Manitoba school system.”

Bonnie encouraged those who are passionate about ag to get involved. Agricultural literacy is growing in importance as the industry continues to change. She urged those who can share their perspectives that “you can really make a difference in the world, and food production is one of the most important things.”

Interested in making a difference in agricultural education? Sign up to volunteer with us, or fill out our donation form!