Jack Verrips, a teacher at College Avenue Secondary School in Woodstock, the most recent winner of AgScape’s Teacher Recognition Award.
Verrips has been teaching for 11 years and teaches animal science, crop science and green industries. He developed an Agriculture Specialist High Skills Major program at the school and is creating a double-period course focused on introducing agriculture and food to students.
Why it matters: Educators work on the front line with students and have a significant impact on their future career choices.
“If agriculture is not successful neither will our food supply be or the affordability of the food we eat,” said Verrips.
It’s that passion and commitment that has led to him being selected for AgScape’s annual Teacher Recognition Award. AgScape is the not-for-profit organization that encourages learning about agriculture in school.
“With this award we like to recognize teachers that create unique agri-food learning opportunities for students. Individuals, such as Jack Verrips, should be commended for their work inspiring youth to see agriculture and food as the exciting industry that it is, how they can make a difference in that industry, as well as what potential career pathways are available to them,” said Mercedes Unwin, program and resources manager, AgScape.
Verrips can speak to that potential by relying on his own industry experience. He can tell his students firsthand that agriculture involves robotics, accounting, mechanics, botany and more. Overall interest in the program at his school is increasing, as is the number of students he teaches that are going into careers in agriculture.
Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show is the sponsor of the Teacher Recognition Award.
“There are many people outside of our industry that are never exposed to the sophistication of technology and equipment in agriculture or the strategic ways that farmers approach their business, and high school is such an impactful time for them to get this exposure,” says Doug Wagner, president of Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show. “Teachers are instrumental in this knowledge transfer, and so we’re pleased to help recognize this year’s award recipient from our own community of Woodstock, Jack Verrips.”
Some of the innovative ways Verrips has engaged his students in agriculture include growing produce that is donated to the local Food Bank, teaching students about animal health and welfare with live animals and taking students on local farm tours.
“I am still always surprised at the fact that even adults do not know exactly where their food comes from.”
With the current school closures due to COVID-19 some students are maintaining their learning. “I had students that when I contacted them at home after it was decided that the close down would be extended, I found out had started growing their own vegetables to pass the time.”