About 150 high school students became cub reporters, scouring Agri-Trade looking to find the best scoop at the annual agricultural show.
During the event, Grade 12 students from six Chinooks Edge Schools were invited by Red Deer County to go through the show at Westerner Park, conduct interviews and write a story.
Art Preachuk, Red Deer County agricultural services manager, said some of the topics suggested to students included how computer and technology impact modern farms, new trends in farm machinery, current environmental concerns facing farmers in Alberta, business challenges facing new farmers and how crop sciences impact Alberta farmers.
Students were also able to pitch their own stories, because of the variety of topics available at the event.
Students were also given a lesson in writing for news so they would know how to approach their first assignments.
“It was an idea I was able to work previously and I brought it to our ag services board and got a little bit of support for it there,” said Preachuk, adding Agri-Trade and Farm Credit Canada were both accommodating and supportive.
The county’s ag services board went to the six rural schools in the Chinooks Edge School District that have Grade 12 students and all agreed to participate.
This meant about 150 students on the verge of graduation would become county news reporters for the day.
“I think they had a good time,” said Preachuk.
“Now we’ll have to wait to see the articles that come out of that.”
Each school gets a $400 bursary for their best story, which is chosen by the school. The best stories then go into a final contest and a best overall story is chosen and the author receives a $600 bursary.
Participating schools included H.J. Cody School, Delburne School, Spruce View School, Innisfail Junior-Senior High School, Bowden Grandview School and River Glenn School.
Students each wrote 500-word articles and if they wanted, they could include a picture.
“The whole thing about it is, we have a world-class event happening here and one of our mandates with the ag services board is promoting agriculture,” said Preachuk.
“Here we’re getting students and agriculture together. We’re also making a connection, because we’re not just looking for farm students, it’s the urban-farm connection.”
Another aspect of the project and getting students into Agri-Trade related to the fact most of them will graduate this spring and at the show there were vendors from all aspects of the agricultural industry.
“Anything from engineering to accounting to you name it,” said Preachuk.
“It doesn’t necessarily mean you’re farming, but you’re supporting that farm industry.”
The students stories were submitted to the Red Deer County News and rdcounty.ca for publication.
The results of the students’ story-writing efforts will be posted once they have been finalized.
“It was very well received and I know we would have had more kids there if it wasn’t for prior scheduling,” said Preachuk.
“All the schools seemed like they wanted it to go again and we even had some contact from other schools, asking if they could come in. It looks like something that might be catching on.”