Nova Scotia students could soon be taught the importance of the fishing industry and marine sector to the province with "classroom-ready" resources offered for free to teachers.
The materials will not be mandatory or part of the official school curriculum. Instead, they will help "Primary to Grade 6 classrooms to gain awareness and appreciation of our marine environment by incorporating marine and fisheries-related learning," according to a request for quotations recently published online by the Nova Scotia government, seeking a contractor to do preliminary work on the program.
According to the document, the initial priority will be on the lobster fishing industry.
Schools of kids, learning about schools of fish
The material will include information about marine ecosystems, the history of the fishing industry in Nova Scotia, and a description of the diverse career paths available in the sector.
"Nova Scotians don't know a lot about the seafood industry, about fisheries, and aquaculture," said Steve Craig, the provincial minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture. "One of the ways that we can help people learn is in the school system."
In addition to providing general information, the program is also designed to spark interest in pursuing a job in the industry.
The materials will "generate curiosity and increased consideration of marine and fisheries-related careers to increase workforce supply, particularly in the fisheries-related sectors," according to the document.
Generating interest in fishing is exactly what the industry needs, said Geoff Irvine, executive director of the Lobster Council of Canada.
"I think it's a super idea," he said. "One of our biggest challenges is labour. So, teaching our young people about opportunities in this sector is very smart."
"It's not just fishing," Irvine added. "It's shore buying, it's processing, it's shipping, it's logistics, it's marketing, it's promotions. Our industry is full of opportunities for young people that maybe they wouldn't think about."
Program already in place for agricultural sector
According to provincial officials, there has been a suite of materials available to teachers for years about the agricultural sector.
"We do have a program in agriculture that we can educate the classroom," said Craig. "And there's been some successes there."
Some of those lesson plans include topics titled: "All Kinds of Apples", "Farming in Nova Scotia: From Honeybees to Maple Trees," and "Exploring Agricultural Science, Technology and Careers."
Lessons ready by next September
Craig said the goal is to have these new marine and fishing industry materials ready for classrooms by next year. As of late August, provincial officials were reviewing bids received by applicants hoping to begin developing the content.
He said he hopes the program will outline alternative career options that aren't always obvious.
"A lot of people are exposed to traditional jobs, if you will," he said. "In the case of health, we've got nurses, technologists, doctors. In the case of public safety, we have police, we have firefighters.
"But we're not exposed a lot to who is in the marine sector. And early education I think can help with that."
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