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Agri Aware experiences surge in schools programme growth

Agri Aware has grown rapidly in the last three years, with the organisation on target to have over 150,000 school children involved in their various programmes by next June.

In the academic year September 2021- June 2022 Agri Aware had 131,000 pupils partake in their programmes. Much of this growth falls at the feet of their longest-established programme, Incredible Edibles. Since 2018 the free horticulture project, which gives seeds and grow packs to Irish primary schools, has performed even better than the vegetables the children planted. Over 1800 schools grew, harvested, and ate Incredible Edibles fruit and vegetables last year, up from 1000 schools taking part as recently as 2018.
In fact, over half a million Irish schoolkids have taken part during the fifteen-year life of Incredible Edibles so far. One of the reasons for this recent spike in activity was Agri Aware adapting the schools’ materials digitally.
All of the tasks and assignments are available for teachers to access directly from the Agri Aware website and end-of-year projects, to gain accreditation, are also increasingly digital rather than postal submissions.
During lockdown, teachers needed straightforward materials that could be easily shared with their pupils at home and that’s exactly what Agri Aware gave them then and continue to provide.
Webinar series, linked to the primary curriculum, have been successfully rolled out with Fun Fridays in 2021, based on the Dig In! resources. While this year the offering has evolved into Farming Through the Seasons, where farmers give virtual tours of their farms over Zoom and answer questions from the children.
Currently, the majority of Agri Aware’s impact is in primary schools with Incredible Edibles, Farming Through the Seasons, Farm Safe Schools and Branching Out. However, the growth of secondary school offerings has been significant in the last two years.
Equuip, the education body of Horseracing Ireland (HRI) have come on board as a patron and an equine-themed transition year programme From Foal to Race was born. This programme was a huge success as a pilot with over 3500 students taking part. While this year, Environmental Innovators has been launched to transition years across the country. The programme challenges students to come up with proposing sustainable food solutions for the future. The leading suggestions will receive mentoring through BiOrbic Bioeconomy SFI Research Centre, based in UCD.
The relaxation of Covid-19 protocols in spring allowed for the return of the Agri Aware Farm Walk and Talk. The programme gets leaving Cert agricultural science students out on research farms and agricultural college farms. The series is run in association with Teagasc, UCD, Irish Farmers Journal and IASTA. Here the students got first-hand discussions from a variety of academic and industry sources focussed on the leaving cert agricultural science curriculum and IIS.

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