Saint-Chrysostome native Mathieu Rouleau has been named the new executive director of Agriculture in the Classroom Canada (AITC-C), which represents a collective of provincial organizations dedicated to agricultural education across the country.
A long-time advocate, Rouleau is deeply rooted in agriculture. He is a co-founder of the agricultural education non-profit École-O-Champ, which serves as the AITC-C member organization for Quebec. He also has years of experience in agricultural economics and finance, as well as hands-on involvement with his family’s dairy, cash crop and maple syrup farm. His new role with AITC-C will focus on strategic planning and building relationships with the agriculture and food industry to grow the organization.
“I’m excited to lead a national team and collaborate with our provincial members, to educate and empower Canadian youth with essential agriculture knowledge and skills in both official languages,” says Rouleau.
His first stop as director was at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto, where AITC-C held a soft launch of their new “I Am Ag” marketing campaign to showcase the numerous careers connected to agriculture beyond farming. Using an artificial intelligence or AI tool, the campaign allows those in the industry to upload a selfie to a site that produces a customized video highlighting their different attributes.
A spin-off campaign aimed at students called “I Am the Future” offers young people a similar experience. “We are hoping to build up career exploration,” explains Rouleau, who says the videos will help youth to explore different career paths while “seeing themselves as part of the future of agriculture.”
Last year, AITC-C and its member organizations, including École-O-Champ, provided over two million student learning experiences through programs and initiatives across the country. Rouleau says he is very motivated by the passionate individuals behind each of the ten provincial organizations and is pleased he will be able to continue to support the team at École-O-Champ in his new role.
Rouleau says he is driven by a desire to “give an even better future to my next generation.” In his own story, Rouleau was really connected to agriculture, and he credits this with many of the attributes he is proudest of today.
“I am a busy person, but I understand the value of patience from weeding a garden or halter-breaking a heifer,” he says, before reiterating that inspiring youth to become involved in agriculture is a positive investment. “Tomorrow’s leaders are in the classroom today, and it is critical they understand the importance of agriculture to nourish our industry for the future.”
Rouleau admits he has had a busy start to his new job. His next stop will be Calgary for the GrowCanada conference at the end of the month, where AITC-C is hoping to officially launch its marketing campaigns. More information on AITC-C and the “I Am Ag” campaign can be found online at aitc-canada.ca.