two young university students smile atop a wagon on a farm

Frank Robinson Youth Academy for Nature, the Environment and Feeding the World

The Frank Robinson Youth Academy (FRYA) provides dedicated extra-curricular, hands-on experiences learning for students from kindergarten through to post-secondary education.

Named in honour of Dr. Frank Robinson and his outstanding career at the University of Alberta, FRYA will sponsor a range of programs for Alberta youth. These programs – both established and emerging – will give our future farmers, conservationists and citizens access to working farms, parkland and cultural spaces so they can gain the experience they need to advance a better vision for the future.

The goals of FRYA are to: 

  • Promote food security—ensuring that everyone has physical, social and economic access to nutritious food.
  • Build connections with youth and nature.
  • Support and enhances cultural diversity in agriculture and environmental sectors.
  • Present experiential learning opportunities to help youth consider careers in agriculture, food production and the environment.

Join us in bringing these important topics to life for our future leaders through experiential learning.

Supported progams

thumbnail preview of a video showing a field

ALES Mini-Internship Program

The ALES Mini-Internship Program (AMIP) sets students up to get first-hand learning experience on careers in agriculture, life, and environmental sciences. This program matches students twice a year with an industry specific organization for a visit and volunteer work.

More Information
student dressed in coveralls and gloves interacts with a calf in a pen of cows

Homeroom Holsteins

Homeroom Holsteins, offered out of the Dairy Research and Technology Centre, teaches grades K-12 classes across Alberta about dairy and agriculture by matching them with a newborn heifer and providing regular updates on its growth.
students research moss in a field

Interactive Programming

Classes and groups can participate in scheduled or bespoke lessons at the University of Alberta on topics related to agriculture, food and the environment. Modules are available on foundational topics like soil and water.


Collaboration is key to achieving our ambitious goals. We are pleased to collaborate with other like-minded organizations.

Get involved

Serving nature and the environment and feeding the world is a complex and ambitious goal that can only be achieved by collaboration. Join us.

  • Apply to host an internship or field trip. Do you have a potential learning opportunity for students? Get more information on welcoming students and sign up for program(s), as well as apply for related funding supports like travel supplement.
  • Learn about interactive programming. Teachers can request tours or presentations for their classes and learn about program options for K-12 students.
  • Get hands-on during your degree. Students can participate in experiential activities during their degree, like the ALES Mini-Internship Program.
  • Donate. Reduce financial barriers to participating in these programs by donating to the Work Integrated Learning Opportunities Fund.

Contact Vicky, our Agricultural Education Coordinator, and/or Allie, our Environmental Education Coordinator, for more information.


Frank Robinson speaks on a well-decorated stage

ALES Festival of Experiential Learning

We celebrated inspiring stories from kindergarten through to post-secondary students made possible by FRYA in Spring 2024. Students and educators shared their hands-on experiences in agriculture, food and environment this last year, and how spark moments inspired their futures.

More information

See other ALES events


Your donation to the Work Integrated Learning Endowment supports new learning opportunities and experiences for students, funds research and builds spaces for innovation and education.


About frank robinson  

Dr. Frank Robinson, who started at the U of A as a Professor of Poultry Production and Physiology in 1986, has served the U of A in several administrative positions including Vice-Provost and Dean of Students (2008 - 2014). He was inducted into the Alberta Agriculture Hall of Fame and the Canadian Poultry Research Hall of Fame, was awarded a 3M National Teaching Fellowship, and is a Fellow of the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture and the Poultry Science Association. Through creative endeavors in engaging undergraduate students in experiential learning and promoting active industry integration, Frank has helped students find their careers in animal and poultry science, agricultural community development and research. He has given countless public talks about animal agriculture, and is recognized locally, nationally and internationally for expertise in small flock and large commercial poultry production.

Frank holds a chicken


Advisory board

FRYA is led by a committee of U of A faculty members, staff and industry partners.

Frank Robinson

Frank poses holding a chickenFrank Robinson was until recently, a Professor of Poultry Production and Physiology at the University of Alberta. For 35 years, he taught and conducted research in animal and poultry science. Through creative endeavors in engaging undergraduate students in experiential learning, Frank has helped students find their careers in animal and poultry science, agricultural community development and research. By active integration with industry people, thousands of students have made valuable contacts and gained experience in agricultural practices. He was inducted into the Alberta Agriculture Hall of Fame, was awarded a 3M National Teaching Fellowship, and was recently awarded a Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Medal for contributions in youth and public education about agriculture. He is a Fellow of the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture and the Poultry Science Association.

Susan Schafers

Susan poses outside with a kind smileSusan Schafers is a second-generation poultry farmer from Stony Plain, Alberta and a graduate from University of Alberta with a BS. in Agriculture and Food Business Management. Susan has been very active in the agricultural industry and spent 11 years as a director, chair and vice chair for Egg Farmers of Alberta. She finished a mandate with the Government of Alberta’s Local Food Council and is the current chair for Parkland County’s Agricultural Service Board. She is excited to work with her son and pass the farming tradition onto another generation.

She believes that community support, volunteer work and industry involvement broadens her knowledge base and gives her an opportunity to give back to those communities. In her free time, she loves crafting, spending time with her granddaughter and kayaking.

Susan is very passionate about educating the public on agricultural issues and engages with the public, media and government. It is a privilege to be working with the Frank Robinson Youth Academy and build opportunities for students from kindergarten to post-secondary to “get dirty” and learn about nature, science and feeding the world!

Allie Dunlop

Allie is wearing a clean white shirt in front of a U of A green bannerMy name is Allie Dunlop and I am an Environmental Education Coordinator with the Faculty of Agricultural, Life & Environmental Sciences at the University of Alberta. In 2012, I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental & Conservation Sciences here in the same faculty. My work experience includes working in environmental consulting, with the Government of Alberta, and with the University of Alberta. My most recent position with the university included organizing teaching labs and field school programming for students in renewable resources. I am now looking forward to developing environmental science programming in a new capacity. In my pastime, I love to play with my 3 dogs, taking care of my house plants, and being outside in nature.

Vicky Horn

vicky smiles broadly dressed in a decorative coatAs a former student of Frank Robinson's, it is an honour to contribute to FRYA as the Agricultural Education Coordinator. It was my first Animal Science class with Frank that changed the projection of my career from where I thought I wanted to be, to the rich and diverse career path I have had. Participating in a 16-month internship program exposed me to a whole different thought process and opportunities I had not previously known existed.

From being involved in one of Canada’s largest beef value chains, to working one on one with producers to find sustainable solutions, to working with livestock markets, to direct marketing grassfed lamb, I have been truly blessed to work in many aspects of the agriculture industry. Currently my family and I run a grazing operation just outside of Mulhurst, AB and you can find us at cattle shows across the province.

Valerie Carney

Val smiles broadly in a statement blue cardiganA native of Edmonton, Valerie Carney completed her BSc and MSc in poultry reproductive physiology at the University of Alberta and went on to complete a PhD in poultry genetics at the University of Arkansas. She started her career in the poultry industry with Aviagen North America where she worked as a field and research geneticist. Val returned to Alberta as a production and technology transfer specialist with the Alberta government. Her position included research, teaching and technology transfer. She has served the Poultry Science Association in various capacities and most recently as President in 2017-18. Val is currently the Poultry Innovation Partnership lead, working with partners from the poultry industry, the U of A and the Alberta government to accomplish the PIP strategic plan.

Mike Lupien
Erin Newell Lupien
Erin poses professionally for a headshot with a kind smile Erin Newell-Lupien has over 25 years of experience in public relations, communications and community investment. She currently leads many of the initiatives and relationships of the Newell Family Foundation. Erin holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts, Multidisciplinary from the University of Lethbridge, as well as a Diploma in Public Relations and Certificate in Arts & Cultural Management from Macewan University. Over the years, she has held several board positions in varying capacities including Chair of the Resource Development Committee with the Alberta Emerald Foundation, Co-Chair of the Community Engagement committee with Theatre Network Society. Currently, further to being on the Advisory Committee for the Frank Robinson Youth Academy, she is also member of the Canadian Public Relations Society, the Edmonton Community Investment Council and is a Member of the Board and Secretary of the Canadian Ditchley Foundation.
Dana Penrice
Stefan Rutkowski

Stefan is dressed professionally and poses in front of a branded bannerStefan is the Chief Operating Officer with CAREERS: the Next Generation. In his role, he leads the Operations, Research & Development, and SafeGen (high school safety training courses) teams. Stefan joined CAREERS in 2020 as the Director Operations when the organization embarked on a significant growth journey. CAREERS has since grown to provide annually over 3,400 paid internships to high school students in a variety of high-demand occupations with over 1,800 employers across Alberta. Currently, the organization is on a path to providing 6,000 internship placements annually.

Before joining CAREERS, Stefan was a global director with the international engineering and consulting firm Worley and lived and worked in several countries. He started his career as an environmental consultant before moving into various operational and international leadership roles.

Stefan is currently a member of the College of School Superintendents supported Trades and Vocational Education (TAVE) Committee and was formerly part of Alberta Education’s Career Education Task Force. He holds a Master’s degree in Environmental Geography from Philipps-University Marburg, Germany, and a Master’s degree in Responsibility and Business Practice from the School of Management, University of Bath, UK.

Cynthia Strawson
Stan Blade

Stan poses confidently with a U of A tartan tieStan Blade, PhD, is Dean of the Faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sciences (ALES) at the University of Alberta. The Faculty is made up of 500+ faculty and staff, 1600 undergraduates and 550 graduate students. ALES is focused on teaching, research and community service in its departments and schools: Agriculture, Food and Nutritional Sciences, Renewable Resources, Human Ecology, Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology as well as the Devonian Botanic Garden and the Alberta School of Forest Science and Management. The Faculty has an annual budget of $85m, with approximately $45m of that composed of external research support. The Faculty has a large research infrastructure which includes 25,000 acres of farm and ranchland in key ecologies across Alberta. Dr. Blade is a full professor in the Faculty’s Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutritional Science. Dr. Blade is a board member of Livestock Gentec (livestock genomics), Phytola (oilseed genomics), the Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute, Genome Alberta, Biological Greenhouse Gas Management Program and the Alberta Rural Development Network.

Read more about Dean Blade's accomplishments on the U of A Directory.

Heather Bruce
Heather wears a statement red blazer in a professional headshotHeather Bruce, PhD, is Chair of the Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science and Professor, Carcass and Meat Science, at the University of Alberta. Dr. Bruce teaches courses in livestock growth and meat production, meat science and communication in science, and is the Scientific Lead for Agri-Food Discovery Place, a multipurpose research facility on South Campus. Dr. Bruce has held over $8 million in research funding, including an NSERC CREATE, has published over 80 scientific manuscripts, and supervised 20 graduate students during her tenure at the University of Alberta. Prior to joining the University of Alberta, Dr. Bruce was the External Research Manager at Nutreco Canada Agresearch, and before that was a Senior Scientist in and Section Leader of the Muscle Food Quality group in CSIRO Australia. Dr. Bruce received her PhD from the University of Alberta, and her M. Sc and B. Sc. (Agr.) from the University of Guelph.
Jay Willis
Rod Carlyon

Rod poses outside wearing a cowboy hat and colorful plaidRod was born and raised in Alberta. He attended the University of Alberta and graduated with an agriculture degree. After graduation, he worked with the provincial government in the Agriculture Ministry. He’s had a number of different roles over his 36-year career. With his wife Janet, they both worked full time and saved their money to purchase their own farm and ranch. They have raised three daughters – all University of Alberta graduates – who are all active in the agriculture industry. Livestock and animals have been their main interest, with beef being the main venture in the farm business.

Rod always supports local businesses and the local community. He has had a number of volunteer roles in different groups, clubs and organizations locally and provincially and is still active today. Interests include engaging youth in agriculture, reading, sports of all types and the great outdoors.

Devin Dittmer
Darcy Fitzgerald
Lynn Jacobson
Justine Karst
Justine poses inside in front of a U of A green backdropRead more about Associate Professor Karst's experience on the U of A Directory.
Bonnie Stelmach
headshot of bonny who wears a black turtleneck and has blonde hairBonnie Stelmach, PhD, is a Professor in the Studies in Educational Leadership program in the Faculty of Education at the University of Alberta. Bonnie received a Bachelor of Education from the University of Alberta, and a Master's of Arts in Educational Philosophy from Simon Fraser University. Her early signature on the research landscape was in the study of parent's roles in children's schooling, with a particular emphasis on rural and northern contexts. Her true passion is in rural school innovation, and she is currently studying how an agricultural literacy focus at a K-6 Alberta school is enhancing children's learning, life skills development, and relationship to school. Coming from a farming family, and being involved in 4-H in her youth, Bonnie roots for agriculture not only because it is a vocation with thousands of years of history, but also because she believes reconnecting society to the food and fiber system can strengthen our sense of place and appreciation for our surroundings.

For more information

Vicky Horn

Agricultural Education Coordinator

Allie Dunlop

Environmental Education Coordinator