One on one with Ag in the Classroom Canada’s new executive director

One on one with Ag in the Classroom Canada’s new executive director
Nov 13, 2023

Mathieu Rouleau grew up on a farm in Quebec

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

A Canadian ag education organization has its new leader.

Agriculture in the Classroom Canada (AITC) organization hired Mathieu Rouleau as its new executive director to replace Johanne Ross, who announced her resignation in February.

Rouleau grew up on his family’s dairy, cash crop and maple syrup farm in southwestern Quebec, where he handles multiple tasks.

“This includes assisting with essential building maintenance, taking care of milking processes, cleaning and feeding cows,” his LinkedIn profile says. “Moreover, I play a pivotal role in overseeing sire selection, genomics and registrations and enhance the quality and productivity of our herd.

In addition, he graduated from McGill University with ag economics and ag business and agronomy degrees. He also co-founded École-O-Champ, a non-profit organization dedicated to ag education, and AITC’s Quebec representation. As AITC’s new executive director, what will some of your responsibilities be?

Mathieu Rouleau (MR): To support the member organizations across Canada in offering educational opportunities and support large scale projects. We’re also there to get support from the industry around our different programs. Our programs reached more than 2.2 million students in 2022. You grew up on a farm in Quebec. What did ag education look like when you were growing up?

MR: I was very privileged because my parents were very involved in my education and my siblings’ education. They were involved in the school and would come in to do activities in the classroom around agriculture. At the farm, it was like having a private tutor around all the time to answer questions and show me things. What lead to you creating École-O-Champ?

MR: When I was at McGill, we had a student club to help them understand business management through community supported agriculture and vegetable baskets. Parents were coming in and asking us to explain to their children how the food is produced. It got to a point where the project got too busy to teach kids and also run a business. A project was created with two other co-founders (Valerie Toupin-Dube and Caroline Begg) to do a summer camp around the garden but wasn’t focused on running the business.

The parents liked the camp and wanted us to go into classrooms. We created the non-profit in 2016 and joined the AITC family in 2020 during the pandemic. What is the biggest gap in agriculture that AITC can help close?

MR: I think we all look at labour and realize we have to talk about food and agriculture with kids at a very young age. The youth who are sitting at their desks right now are going to be making decisions and policies, bringing new ideas to the table and working in the industry. We need the industry to help us teach kids that you don’t only have to be a farmer to work in agriculture. You can be food scientist, or work in marketing, or work on trade policy.

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