Jason graduated UWO/Brescia University College in 2014 with a double major in History and Family Studies. He oversees the production of small batch preserves for a social enterprise working with youth in Strathroy Ontario. He also teaches adult cooking classes for both the City of London and the YMCA. In addition to this he is also the Vice President of social media for the OHEA, as well as a food and travel blogger. Highlights of his blogging career include being the Canadian Beef Blogger Ambassador.
What’s something interesting about yourself?
I enjoy travel to the Caribbean and exploring the Caribbean culture and food. I love the spices and flavours of the food, and who doesn’t like the beach?!
What made you decide to become a PHEc?
I took some of the Home Ec related courses in school at university and then decided to make it a second major. I had hopes and dreams of being a high school teacher but there seems to be a lack of male participants within the field of Home Ec so I decided to try and hopefully change that by becoming a PHEc and getting involved. I found the content very interesting when I took family studies courses and then I explored the other available options at university and found it equally as interesting as my other major, history. As well, preparing for my high school teaching route, Home Ec could have been a second teachable at post secondary and so that also played a role.
How does being a PHEc tie into your work life, if at all?
I teach adult cooking classes, so hopefully the outcome of teaching adults new cooking skills so that they can achieve and maintain a desirable quality of life. We need to bring back cooking, it should be mandatory in high school. A lot of people can’t boil an egg, let alone find a cool recipe online and try it out so by teaching cooking classes I hope to help close that gap.
How do you feel about being a male in a predominately female association/ profession?
It’s a challenge for sure. I have written a paper about how more men need to get in the profession to “legitimize it” lack of male participation and one day I will get this paper out there. A 50/50 split of representation of both sexes would help progress the field. Single male headed families is a statistic on the rise, so it would be nice to have more of the opposite sex being a voice for that percentage that’s rising. At the end of the day I enjoy it, I’m sure myself and lot of the other PHEcs have very different interests but we can still get together and talk about Home Ec and find that common ground. I feel like I’ve been embraced by it, I feel it would be more of a challenge if the organization wasn’t as welcoming, but they are really great. When I wrote my paper there were only 3 male Home Economists in Canada. Having gone to some student events, I can see that there are a few more males involved, but overall I found a lot of males have the credentials but they choose not to pursue a Home Ec profession because they feel a disconnect.
What do you enjoy most about being an OHEA member?
I get to go speak to some of the students at Brescia once or twice a year. I enjoy getting them excited to enter the field and giving them some advice from when I was a student. I like to tell people not to give up if they are a part-time student because eventually they will get that diploma and when you’re finished, you’re ahead of the game. The coolest accomplishment I can think of was going to speak to these students, and having a really huge impact on one students within my 45 minute speech. This student wasn’t sure what she wanted to do and was going down the Registered Dietitian route and then after hearing from me, decided to go to culinary school and wants to get involved in something in the field of life skill development and working with youth. I inspired her to change her career path and that was the most rewarding part. On the opposite end being a member and a PHEc gives me some validity when I teach my cooking classes, I can use science and the stuff I learned in university to pass it on to my students to help them achieve a better standard of living.
What piece of advice can you offer new or aspiring PHEcs?
To get involved and use the different avenues for networking that are available for students and registered members. Reach out to fellow home economists, I’ve never ever reached out to someone who wasn’t willing to help. People don’t know that if you say to touch base with Mairlyn Smith that she will actually respond and give you advice. James Macintosh is a famous male Home Economist out of Britain. I’ve reached out to him and asked how he does it as a guy in this female world and he’s given me some advice, we’ve connected on social media and now we are internet friends! It’s important to really utilize all benefits of the membership including using the mentorship program. I have just recently started mentoring my first fellow PHEc through OHEA’s mentorship program and it’s been really nice to share my expertise.
What has been your greatest professional success?
I’ve only been in the field for two years but being the Canadian Beef Blogger Ambassador is definitely my greatest success to date. I got to go to Mexico to experience Canadian Beef at the Eldorado Royale resort. I won a trip valued at about $8000, got to hang out with Chef Eric Pateman and a rep from Kendall Jackson Wines and learn about how they’re doing Canadian Beef down in Mexico. The accomplishment part was that I had to produce a ~2 minute video and get people to vote for it. I beat someone on twitter who had 24 thousand followers, whereas I only had about 1500 followers. I used to be a butcher, so my genuine passion for Canadian beef really shone through and figured I was a little more genuine than the other guy. I’m making filet mignon tonight (pictured below), I’m a big Canadian Beef guy so it was really cool to have that opportunity!