What is the Green Certificate Program?

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 Introduction | Training levels | Specializations | Green certificate people | Training process | Conclusion

The Green Certificate Program is an industry driven training program. Its apprenticeship style of delivery ensures that participants learn through actively performing the skills required. This means going out into the barn, field or corral and getting dirty. It means having a trainer who is knowledgeable and vested in the trainee’s success.


Since 1975 the Green Certificate Program has provided an excellent opportunity for young people to gain experience and training in one of the prime industries of the Alberta economy.

On June 9, 2000 Alberta Education made the Green Certificate an approved complimentary program of study available to all Alberta high schools. Becoming a competent farm production technician (completing a Level I Green Certificate) requires taking three courses and upon completion, receiving 16 credits.

The Green Certificate Program provides trainees with opportunities to enter a variety of agriculture-related, structured learning pathways as a part of their senior high school program and to earn a credential leading to a career in agribusiness.

Students learn on the job, under the direction of experienced farm personnel and under the supervision and administration of Alberta Agriculture and Forestry (AF) and Alberta Education. Students completing all three courses in a specialization, to the standards specified, would earn the technician level Green Certificate for that specialization, which is issued by AF.

Training Levels

The program provides:

  • training tools such as curriculum and resources
  • Worker's Compensation for trainees in the program
  • certification testing programs to ensure maintenance of competency standards
Trainees and trainers together:
  • plan and carry out the training program to gain the knowledge and apply the skills identified in the curriculum
  • test for competence in skill performance
  • prepare for regularly scheduled certification testing sessions
Being a Green Certificate participant tells your future employers that you are:
  • proactive in your training and education
  • competent in required job skills
  • willing to learn
  • committed to a positive attitude towards safety and safe work site practices
  • aware and excited about future career opportunities in the agriculture industry, and
Level I Green Certificate

Farm production technicians generally perform daily care, feeding, health maintenance and other animal husbandry responsibilities. Considerable manual or technical dexterity is needed to operate machines and work with production inputs. The Green Certificate Program for the farm production technician is designed to produce graduates who are prepared to:
  • Operate machinery to carry out the daily routine of crop production and animal husbandry
  • Work independently in daily routine jobs
  • Work under a supervisor who directs the work schedule and judges performance results


The Green Certificate Program currently consists of eleven specializations.

Alberta Agriculture and Forestry does consider adding new specializations, such as bison/elk production. If you are interested in any new area of study please contact the Green Certificate Program in Stony Plain:

Raelene Mercer
Green Certificate Program Coordinator
Alberta Agriculture and Forestry
Stony Plain AB

Email: raelene.mercer@gov.ab.ca
Toll Free: dial 310-0000 then 780-968-3551

Green Certificate People

Our Green Certificate trainees are high school students. As of September 1, 2014, we no longer accept registration for adult students. From 2016 to 2017 the program had approximately 1000 trainees across the province!

Primary trainers - Green Certificate trainers are most often the trainee’s parents, relatives or employers that operate a farming operation within the trainee’s area of specialization. They act as the trainee’s mentor working through the training process with the trainee, providing instruction, guidance and an operating facility in which to perform the working skills required for competence and daily skill assessment.

Secondary trainers - This type of mentor is used from time to time, when the primary trainer does not have the expertise in a specific skill area to the level of competence required by the training manual. (i.e. - Cow calf trainees are required to have a full understanding and to be able to recognize numerous cattle health disorders. They must be able to interpret drug labels, administer the appropriate drug or implement the required plan of action for each disorder. Therefore a great resource to learn these details would be the local veterinarian). Trainees are encouraged to seek out these experts within their communities.

Green Certificate testers are an integral part of the Green Certificate training program. Throughout the province Green Certificate holds regional certification testing events. As the trainees progress and completes their three distinct training periods, they are assessed by a certified tester to determine their level of competence in all skills of a training period. Green Certificate testers are highly skilled, experienced members of the agriculture industry. They are selected by their local regional coordinators and attend certification training development workshops.

Alberta Agriculture and Forestry (AF)
AF is the overseeing body of the Green Certificate Program. It started within the department in 1975, and has developed and responded to the industry needs within agriculture. The Green Certificate Program is managed by Raelene Mercer, with administrative support coming from members of the Policy and Programs Branch and Food and Value- Added Processing Division. This team administers, coordinates and develops the program in response to client and ministerial objectives.

Regional Coordinators
The Green Certificate Program is divided into five regions throughout Alberta, working in conjunction with Alberta’s agriculture colleges (Lakeland College,Grande Prairie Regional College, Olds College, Lethbridge Community College). This team of dedicated staff is responsible for facilitating the delivery of the Green Certificate program to our clientele. Roles of the Green Certificate regional coordinators include interaction with the schools and training facilities within their regions. Working together with the agriculture colleges allows both parties a chance to promote the agriculture industry to youth and further rural development.

School Representative
For all student trainees participating in the program, their school authority provides the students with a Green Certificate school representative. This position is generally the responsibility of the person in charge of career counseling and development or another teacher. Being as this program is taken off-campus, it is administered similarly to other work experience programs. Our school representatives are the Green Certificate link into Alberta Education. AF provides a type of contract curriculum and delivery to the schools. Supervision by the school representative over the trainee, with assistance from trainers and testers, provides the basis to assigning a graded mark to a competency-based system. The school representative then submits the grade to Alberta Education for the student’s diploma credits.

Training Process

The Green Certificate training process is a flowing working relationship that joins the agriculture industry with the youth of this province. The unique relationship between Alberta Agriculture and Forestry and Alberta Education allows for the Green Certificate Program to successfully provide farm training. The Green Certificate student farm training process looks like this (student farm training flowchart):

1.Trainees express interest in the program and contact is made to their regional coordinator (through their school representative)
2.Induction meeting is held where all participants register and receive training materials
3.Trainer and trainee review all key points in current skill level assessment and notes are made of further training required to achieve competency
4.Apprenticeship training begins with the selection of the training period (i.e. X, Y or Z)
5.Trainee masters all key points in a task, all tasks in a skill and all skills in training period
6.Trainer checks off all skills in training manual as competency is achieved in each skill followed by on farm testing and signs off tested skill on skill profile sheet
7.Trainer tests trainee while on the farm and checks off competent skills on the skill profile sheet for the training period
8.Trainee attends regional certification testing
9.Regional tester selects five random skills within training period to test trainee’s level of competence
10.If the tester evaluates the trainee’s skill competence, as below industry standards at one or more skills, then the tester will take note and suggest further areas of training that are needed. The trainer and the trainee return to the farm where further preparation is needed and return to the apprenticeship training (Note: no academic penalty is given to the student-trainee). The trainee can return to a certification testing for a re-test.
11.If the tester evaluates the trainee as competent at all five skills, then it is noted on their test report and a copy given to the trainee, the regional representative, the teacher (who submits this information to Alberta Education for academic credits), and headquarters. The tester validates the test by initializing on the trainee’s skill profile sheet
12.The trainee returns to their apprenticeship training process to complete the remaining training periods

Note: If during the apprenticeship process, the trainer is not at a high enough comfort level to be training the trainee in a particular skill, or they don’t use that type of process on their farming operation, the trainee is still expected to master all of the key points and tasks within that skill. This is when a secondary trainer can assist the trainee. That person can be an agronomist; a feed rep., the vet, a neighbour, another producer or another qualified resource.


When the trainee has completed all three training periods successfully, the regional coordinator will detach the trainee’s skill profile sheet and submit it to headquarters to verify their certification.
14.Headquarters then prepares the Green Certificate for the trainee, and returns it, with the skill profile sheet in the Green Certificate training portfolio to the graduate.

This has been a brief overview of what the Green Certificate is, and its purpose. We cover eleven different production areas, encompassing a lot of what agriculture in Alberta has to offer. It is an exciting program with potential to really influence the young people of today and into the future. We want to promote rural development and the industry as career options for both rural and urban residents. You have been taken through all of the different people involved with the program and the extent to which we already permeate a vast number of key individuals with in the industry. You now understand the training process that our trainees go through to achieve their certification. The Green Certificate Program is an untapped resource, the success of this program speaks highly of the information and training that our trainees and graduates receive and the applicability to their future success. As well as the dedication of the individuals involved and commitment to youth involvement in the industry. The best place for learning how to farm is still on the farm. And that's the basic of Alberta's Green Certificate program. It's a proven model for hands-on farm training and certification, an opportunity to upgrade skills and qualifications without disrupting employment. Find out what this program can do for you, whether you are an employer or an employee.

Green Certificate has more details on the following topics to share with you.
Certification Testing Schedule for Green Certificate
Cow-Calf Beef Technician - Learning Resources Page
Green Certificate Regional Coordinators
Resources for Training and Participant Support
Student Trainee

Return to Green Certificate homepage

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For more information about the content of this document, contact Raelene Mercer.
This document is maintained by Lindsay Rodriguez.
This information published to the web on May 15, 2006.
Last Reviewed/Revised on July 26, 2018.