How the Green Certificate Program Operates When You Are an Alberta High School Student

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 Introduction | Roles and responsibilities | Terms and definitions | Apprenticeship training process | Prepare for regional testing events | Certification tests


The Green Certificate Program provides students 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, will earn the technician level Green Certificate for that specialization, which is issued by AF.

The Green Certificate Program currently consists of the eleven specialization listed below. AF is, however, currently considering the addition of new specializations.

  • Bee Keeping Production
  • Cow Calf Beef Production
  • Dairy Production
  • Feedlot Beef Production
  • Field Crop Production
  • Greenhouse Production
  • Irrigated Field Crop Production
  • Poultry Production
  • Sheep Production
  • Swine Production
Roles and Responsibilities of Student Trainees

This information is designed to help you as a student trainee, understand your work, and commitments. As a Green Certificate Trainee, your role/responsibility is to:

  • Increase your knowledge and understanding of a particular job and the skills needed to do it
  • Accept that learning takes place when there is a positive change in your ability to perform a task
  • Manage your own learning by attending courses, by self-study and by on-site job training
  • Participate in an Induction training session
  • Make time for the program
  • Learn the skills outlined in the training plan to the level of competency required
  • Work with the Trainer to test your achievement of skill competencies
  • Take responsibility for maintaining communication with Green Certificate Program administration regarding testing, training events and activities
  • Attend off farm training workshops when scheduled
  • Attend the Certification Test at a regional test center when scheduled
  • Keep records relevant to managing your activities on the Green Certificate program
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Terms in Green Certificate

What is meant by "competence"?
Competence is:

  • A benchmark of acceptable performance as determined by credible practitioners in the field
  • Recognized in individuals when they are able to demonstrate in a visible and physical way that they have mastered the information and techniques required to meet the industry standard of a satisfactorily performed task
  • Assessed by a trainer and verified by a tester at a regional center
  • Achieved when a skill can be performed reliably, consistently and efficiently
What is a skill?
A skill is:
  • The primary activity that encompasses a field of activities performed in a work area
  • The result of the use of knowledge, mental attitude and physical technique (for example, changing the engine oil and filter on a tractor requires a combination of knowledge, attitude and physical activities in order to be competently performed)
What is a task?
A task is:
  • A component of a skill that sets out or describes a particular criteria that allows the individual to be recognized as competent in the whole skill
  • The part that answers the question: What will be seen in the person’s ability when they have achieved competence in this skill?
  • The collection of tasks that make up a skill and usually include tasks that require knowledge, attitudes and physical activities
What is a key point?
A Key Point is:
  • A component of a task that sets out or describes a specific action, performance, duty, techniques, result that the trainee must be able to recognize, demonstrate accomplish by result of their training
  • The items, points, aspects , etc. of the task which outlines for the learner and the trainer the components of the particular task and how much is to be learned
  • Not the answer, merely the guide to train by
  • to be used when training/learning and assessing the achievement of competence
  • the guide for a learner on the minimum requirements of details you must learn, and there fore use as a basis to ask questions of the trainer
  • for regional certification tests they can be used by the Tester as a checklist of points for examining how much the student has learned.
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The Apprenticeship Training Process

On the job instruction
The Green Certificate apprenticeship training process features and relies upon on-the-job instruction. The same general steps are followed in the delivery of the program.

Farm trainer and trainee review the profile and discuss the different skills listed. The trainer prepares a plan of what is to be instructed in the coming days. They also review and discuss the training objectives to identify the skills they will work on. Specifically assess the trainees skill level on task the trainee can already perform easily and areas in which additional training will need to be worked on.

Training period
Each of the Green Certificate curriculums’ are divide into "X, Y and Z training periods". After the trainee and the trainer have gone through the manual, assessing the trainee’s current skill levels and understanding the training process, they can decide on a training/learning plan of action. The trainer and the trainee should take into consideration the time of the year and how that will coincide with which training period they will concentrate their efforts on first. Each of the skills listed on the "Skill Profile Sheet" will be identified as either an "X, Y, Z, or optional". The trainer and trainee are encouraged to work on the optional skill sets as well as all the required skills. When attending a "Green Certificate Regional Testing" event, the tester will ask the trainee, which "training period" they are ready to be tested on. The tester will randomly select five skills to test the trainee on; therefore it is imperative that the trainee becomes knowledgeable and competent in all of the skills within the selected training period.

Trainer explains an activity or operation. The trainee listens and asks questions to develop his understanding of what’s involved.

The trainer shows the trainee how to do the activity. The trainee observes and understands. The trainer talks through the activity and instructs the trainee on how they are to perform the job. Use the curriculum as a guide so as not to miss any of the required skills and tasks required. Also include any areas of production that are preformed on the job that is specific to your farming operations. It is important to know that the trainee is required to know and perform all the skills as laid out in the training curriculum, even if they are not used on your farm. The trainer may ask questions to test the trainee’s understanding.

Try out
The trainee performs the job, talking through each of the steps. The trainer observes. The farm trainer gives feedback, both as a positive and a negative assessment of the trainee’s performance.

Once the basic procedures are being performed correctly, the trainer lets the trainee practice.
After initial training, the trainer checks the progress of the trainee frequently to provide guidance and feedback.

Follow up
If the trainee asks questions that are outside the trainer’s experience, the trainer suggests ways the trainee could find answers.

On-farm testing
In order to asses the trainee's progress and skill level it is imperative that the trainer takes the time to periodically test the trainee on the skills and tasks that they are asked to perform. Similar to the "Try Out" phase of the process, the trainer asks the trainee to perform and talk through each of the skills and tasks they have learned to perform and acquire knowledge on. The trainer will use the curriculum guide as a focus on asking questions throughout this process to assess that the trainee knows what they are to be doing and can perform the tasks accurately, efficiently and safely. If the trainee is weak in any particular area, do not sign off the skill, but work on ways to improve it. Once the trainee has reached a level of on-farm competence in a skill, the trainer initials the box in the curriculum next to the task. Once all the tasks in a skill set have been mastered by the trainee, the trainer can then proceed to initial off the entire skill set within the curriculum, as well as on the "skill profile sheet".

In addition to purely on-the-job learning and application of skills, the trainee may be required to gather information and develop specialized skills that may not be immediately evident in the on-the-job setting. This includes farming operations that are required within the curriculum, that the trainer might not involve those operations within their own farm setting.

Self study
The trainee studies in his spare time, using different methods such as reading, references searching the Internet or enrolling in an applicable Home Study (AF) course.

Independent research
The trainee can research information from sources such as the Green Certificate website, the library of an agricultural school, other farmers or other agricultural producers/experts in your area.

Off-farm training events
The trainee may elect to attend a classroom course, which applies directly to the trainee’s area of specialization. For example a course on farm safety, first aid course, fire safety, livestock handling workshops, agronomy workshops, etc.

Expert opinions
Trainees can also ask questions of specialists, to seek answers to problems and develop sound consulting habits. If questions or problems arise the trainee can call on a "training specialist" for help or clarification. If the trainee seeks out additional expertise apart from the trainer (i.e. Veterinary, local agronomist, other farmers) they too will be required to initial off the task with in the curriculum, then the skill set they have been working together to master. The additional expert is also required to sign off on the skill profile sheet, in the skill(s) that they were helping the trainee with. In addition they are to add their name and signature in the "Tester List" green box in the upper right corner of the "skill profile sheet".

Green Certificate regional coordinator
The Green Certificate Regional Coordinator can provide advice on problems with the training or suggest alternatives to learn certain skills. If the trainer is having problems with his training technique, upcoming courses, or available resources, they can discuss them with the Green Certificate Regional Coordinator.

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How to Prepare for Regional Testing Events

Assessment of performance
The trainee’s progress is continually monitored according to the skills and objectives listed in the curriculum. There are two distinct parts in a trainee’s assessment: 1. On farm Assessment, and 2. Regional Certification Assessment,

1. Trainer/Trainee On Farm Assessment - The trainer and trainee mutually and continually assess achievement, through monitoring and independent tests in order to attest to the mastery of the curriculum key points, tasks, and skills within each training period
When the trainee has:

  • Practiced all the required actions
  • Has studied
  • Read, and
  • Discussed the implications of the key points and training guidelines;
  • The trainer and the trainee review the progress to date.
The trainer asks the trainee to demonstrate or explain the key points and guidelines for every objective within the skill.

When the trainee has demonstrated or explained the skill to the level required, the trainer signs off that skill on the profile sheet.

When all required skills have been signed off, the trainer signs a declaration that states that to the best of his ability, he has judged the trainee competent to perform the skills listed in the program.

The document certifies that in the trainer’s opinion, the trainee has met requirements at a job entry level and within the guidelines of the Green Certificate Program. The trainee is then ready for certification testing to prove their knowledge and skill.

2. Regional Certification Assessment - Independent panels of recognized experts in the field are assembled at regular scheduled intervals in the Green Certificate Training Program. The performance and knowledge of the trainee is compared to the industry standards specified in the curriculum.

The trainee is tested on skills selected at random from those in his or her training manual. The tester observes as the trainee demonstrates knowledge and performance in all key points of every objective for each of the selected skills of their training period (X, Y or Z).

The tester looks at:

  • How the trainee deals with equipment and parts,
  • Safety factors,
  • Reasons for performing the task at hand,
  • The consequences of inadequate performance,
  • Identification of materials and equipment,
  • The meanings of the terms relevant to performing the tasks, and
  • The main steps involved in common methods
In short, the tester is concerned with assessing everything that is written in the training manual. Each certificate tester takes the approach of "does this trainee understand and can they perform the skills, so that I would feel confident to hire them to work on my own farm".

The tester is also concerned about procedural faults, which might occur in training. Where local practices might differ with that of the industry and when skill has been signed off even though the trainee hasn’t trained and/or practiced that skill to reach competence.

The trainee is required to be tested on all 3 training periods (X, Y, Z). The trainee is eligible for certification of their training period if all selected skills are successfully completed.

Successful High School Student Trainees will be given their test report to be taken in to their School Teacher/Supervisor for partial credit from his/her high school.

It should be noted that an incomplete is marked on their green certificate test report and high school students do not receive an academic penalty for an Incomplete. The test report then becomes a study tool. Any of the 5 skill areas that are marked as incomplete, will be retested again at the next regional testing event as well as other randomly selected skill to make up the 5 skill to be tested.

After all of the skills of a technician have been completed, the profile is stamped and certified. This requires that the trainee be tested and deemed competent on all 3 training periods. It can now be put in the trainee’s portfolio, complete with the trainer’s initials in every required skill box. Employers can see at a glance exactly what skills the trainee is competent in.

A certificate is issued, signed by the Minister of AF. By taking his Green Certificate Training Record to his school he will be eligible for all the credits allowed by the Alberta high school system.

All the trainee’s credentials are put together in a portfolio called The Green Certificate Program Training Record. Many employers only want to hire qualified employees. When applying for a scholarship, job, a loan, etc., the trainee presents these credentials.

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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 March 10, 2003.
Last Reviewed/Revised on May 11, 2018.