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  • Norfolk Farms

Fanshawe College Is Growing The Next Generation

The Simcoe campus of Fanshawe College has long been producing highly educated graduates that are anxious and excited to put their acquired knowledge into practice. At present they have close to 200 International students registered in either the Social Services Worker Program or Agri-Business Program

Chris Skinkle, Program Co-Ordinator for the Agri-Business program, is a graduate of Brock University and Fanshawe College and holds both a Master of Business Administration and a degree in Business Marketing. Skinkle previously worked in industry logistics for oil and gas companies but was drawn to teaching. “I knew it was something I wanted to do but did 10 years in the work force after graduatiing”. His parents were both in education – his Father having been a part-time teacher and his Mother with over 30 years in teaching… many of those years were right at Fanshawe.

Skinkle is excited about the Agri-Business Program and has seen a dramatic increase in interest since its inception. “We developed the program here ourselves and we own it. Other Colleges or Universities get it from us. We have 86 students enrolled in the Agri-Business Management. It’s a split of about 40% female and 60% male students in this course The numbers were smaller but there has been a ton of interest in the last 5 years, especially with International students” adds Skinkle.” We have students from India and South East Asia with a delegation from Kenya arriving the end of March. I first taught 40 students and it’s up to 86 now.”

The first two semesters are taught on the Simcoe Campus after which they will do a Practicum Placement. “The students also learn other things specific to agriculture such as Accounting and Food Safety. At Suncrest Orchids they learn about pesticides and safe handling of them. They are also required to learn Health and Safety Standards pertaining to the farming industry.”

Fanshawe College, Simcoe campus, has seen the program grow in popularity. The first 2 semesters they are on campus in class. After completing that, they will do a Practicum Placement, organized by the Placement Co-Ordinator Carleigh Smith. Professor Wanda Jacobs helped to organize field trips to Schuyler Farms, Norfolk Tractor. Vandenbuscche Irrigation , Ramblin’ Road Brewery, Norfolk Fruit Growers, Bird House Farm and Burning Kiln Winery.

When speaking of the International students Skinkle adds “Their credentials from India are not recognized here and they have to maintain an average of over 60% - grades are extremely important to them. It costs more for an international student than us but they have a great deal of support from their relatives as they don’t qualify for monetary support here such as scholarships or bursaries.”

When they graduate, some of the students will go on to University for a Masters Degree in agricultural fields such as Food Sciences, antibiotic use i.e. in dairy cattle or genetic adaptations for seed development. “They’re very strong academically…it’s a cultural thing.

Their families back home are investing a lot to let them come here to take this program. The cost for an International student is more and add to that housing, books, general expenses…there’s a lot on the line for them to succeed”.

Skinkle adds that part of the students’ goals is to build a foundation here and remain in Canada. They can accept a job here but the employer does the Post Graduate Work Permit.

They earn points towards citizenship. All in all it takes about 5 years to get permanent citizenship. “It’s In the country’s best interest” adds Skinkle.” You can’t grow the economy if you don’t have the population or knowledge base”.

Next semester the students will study Precision Agriculture, learning new technologies for more efficiency in farming. Fanshawe is definitely building a broader and more schooled student base. These graduates will find work in any of a number of fields that will serve to make Norfolk County’s diversity in farming even better.


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