Summer Institute 2020 – Online Success!

Summer Institute 2020 Online

Summer Institute 2020 – Online Success!

Every July, teachers and others hungry to expand their knowledge of agriculture enroll in the Summer Institute course BC Agriculture in the Curriculum presented by BC Agriculture in the Classroom Foundation (BCAITC) and the UBC Faculty of Education. The 3-credit course is full every year because of word of mouth in the teacher network. Students come to the course to gain professional development tools and resources to help them integrate important concepts related to food, the agriculture industry, and environmental sustainability into their K-12 classrooms. Through active participation, cooking demonstrations, field trips, guest speakers, and presentations, participants in this five-day course have explored practical ways to integrate concepts related to food production and consumption, food safety, agricultural issues, and sustainability across the curriculum at all grade levels.

  Summer Institute Online

This year, with the COVID-19 pandemic and UBC moving courses online, Summer Institute Instructor, Joe Massie, was faced with the challenge of how to keep the course exciting in an online setting. Massie worked closely with BCAITC’s Executive Director, Pat Tonn, and her team to rise to challenge, finding creative ways to keep participants engaged. The team developed a strategic multi-faceted online platform consisting of the following:

Summer Institute Students   Joe Massie
Students, Summer Institute   Course Instructor, Joe Massie


The course’s schedule was carefully crafted to maximize online interaction and learning. Zoom break-out rooms, surveys, and other software features were used to simulate a live classroom. To avoid online meeting fatigue, intermittent reading breaks were also scheduled between presentations. The result? The Summer Institute was a huge success online this year! With outstanding attendance in the 15 online sessions, participants were actively engaged in the student-centered learning environment. Participants gained valuable knowledge of agriculture and food education and realized the added benefit of shared insight on teaching online.

Course participant feedback was excellent; below are some of the comments:  

  • "...This class has been the highlight of my summer! My mind is still marinating in all of the information it has soaked up the past week. Agriculture in the Curriculum is such a comprehensive course that truly shows you how perfectly agriculture lends itself to nearly any subject! It was well organized, well led, and engaging from the beginning right to the end. Knowing that this was adapted to deal with the pandemic on short notice is impressive." Courtney Wall
  • "... I would highly recommend this course to anyone who is interested in learning about the food production industry – plant or animal, cooking with local ingredients, the importance of agriculture on our economy, and the farm-to-table movement. It was one of the best classes I have ever taken in undergraduate or graduate studies!"   Heidi Phillips
  • "...I’m still processing everything that I’ve learned this week, but I have already been able to take away so much from this course. I have always known the idea that buying local is ideal, however, I feel like meeting farmers, tasting the food, taking the time to really appreciate the freshness, and focussing on the importance of food stories has really taught me more about the ‘why’. It’s so much easier to connect to an idea when you dive into the “why” which is always something I try to do with my students. This experience felt extra special because it allowed me to open my mind to changes in my own life while also sparking so many ideas for things to do in my classroom to help students explore that ‘why’." Jaclyn Ornai
  • “…I'm not sure I've ever been in such a well-run and thought out online course. It really was a fantastic experience…” Leanne Cornelsen

Summer Institute participants will be able to use the agriculture and digital literacy knowledge gained to assist with the development of curriculum projects and lesson units that can be shared their K-12 students, as well as other educators around the province. They will be able to educate our province’s students on food and agriculture and the importance sources, processes, and issues related to food production.

“Summer Institute is one of our most popular BCAITC programs”, said Pat Tonn, Executive Director of BCAITC. “When COVID-19 surfaced, we were concerned that we wouldn’t be able to hold the course this year. Fortunately, with the creative thinking of Course Instructor, Joe Massie, and our team and generous partners, we were able to quickly pivot and convert the course to a successful online format.  Key factors were adding enlivening cook-at-home activities and retaining engaging industry speakers.” Tonn continued,During the course, we learned about the challenges that teachers are facing teaching online; class participants were able to share tips and ideas on how to deliver education virtually. We are looking forward to the teacher participants taking their agriculture learnings back to classrooms this fall so they can spread the word about BC’s amazing food story.”

Special thanks to the Summer Institute Partners: BC Cattlemen's Association, BC Chicken Marketing Board, BC Dairy Association, BC Egg, BC Greenhouse Growers' Association, Creekside Hothouse, Farm Fed (A Division of K&R Poultry), Fresh Roots, Little Qualicum Cheeseworks, Provincial Agricultural Land Commission, Sardis Secondary School Farm, and W & A Farms.