By Tyler Torrie, Riverview Ranch Ltd.
I first heard about the Alberta Canola Leaders Event from Rick Taillieu when I was at Leading Edge, a farm succession planning event hosted by Alberta Canola couple of weeks prior. When Rick mentioned it, I was instantly interested as I feel like I have so much to learn in terms of farming and being a leader. My schooling background was also in leadership development, so this event sounded like everything I was interested in. Rick then extended the invitation to join them and a couple of weeks later I was in Edmonton sitting with 19 other young farm leaders like myself for two days on March 20 & 21, 2019.
The first presenter was the incredible Bob Treadway. I have heard a lot of presenters, but I have never been more impressed by the thought and preparation by a presenter before. He came up all the way from San Diego but he was incredibly current and understanding of our politics, issues and events here in Alberta. He was also incredibly knowledgeable about farming and the unique challenges it brings. He then boiled down all his experience and knowledge into a presentation that at every moment was directly applicable to what I was doing or needed to do on my farm. He helped us learn how to look at news and see how it was affecting our farms, but then to also forecast its effects further into the future. Then he gave us skills on how to plan for those future events or the goals we set for ourselves. Within a couple of days of the Leaders Event I was working with other people on my farm to take what I learned and put into practice.
Mary Lynn McPherson from Strive! along with Lee Markert and Renn Breitkreuz (past chairs of Alberta Canola) taught us how to really be an effective leader in a board setting. We got to look at case studies of different types of conflict and issues a board faces when working together and then look at both negative and positive ways we could handle the situation. With the previous chairs of Alberta Canola, we were able to ask them questions and pull from their long experiences of boards to get more great advice and counsel. It helped open my eyes to more ways I could be involved in making a difference in my community and for farming in general.
We then were taught policy development and presentation by Alberta Canola’s Karla Bergstrom along with an incredible crowd of people including a former Federal Cabinet Minister, a former Senator, a past Provincial Minister of Agriculture, Alberta Canola’s General Manager along with the CEO and Director of Communications from the Canadian Canola Growers Association. It was incredible to roleplay with them on serious current issues, to both begin to understand the issues better but to also see how the process works and how we might be involved. For me, the most valuable part was taking the issue and being able to work on that issue as a team with the other leaders and try to find solutions to them. It was a fantastic experience.
Lastly, we were trained on how to work with media in settings like news articles, radio and tv interviews. It was awesome to role play what to say and do and how to dodge common pitfalls and tricks. With the news becoming more and more accessible and involved with farming it is not if but when we as farmers will have to do things like interviews and so it was incredibly valuable to me. Nicole Harris from Maverick Media was a fantastic presenter and with her incredible experience and talent, it gave us some of the best teaching we could get on the subject. Jay Whetter, who is the editor of Canola Watch and the Canola Digest also shared his experience with us.
Interspersed in all of this was incredible food, hilarious but informative etiquette training, a beautiful hotel stay, and most importantly amazing people I was able to connect with and make friends with. At each meal and at breaks I was able to chat with farmers in similar situations as myself, and to learn from them and their experiences. This Leadership Event was an incredible experience for me and I am bringing home many new and important skills to my farm and hopefully to my community.
You can also listen to a podcast with Canola Leaders Christi Friesen and Kyle Tarkowski discussing the Bob Treadway session on backcasting with host Jay Whetter
Alberta Canola Connects is your window into the activities of the Alberta Canola Producers Commission as we work both locally and globally to help contribute to the long term success of canola farmers in Alberta.
Tags: Canola Leaders Program