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Starting the new year right, takes home an Employer of Distinction Award from Conestoga College.    

By Andrew Joseph,

Setting the next generation up for success, is a mantra close to the collective heart of is part of the group of companies.

It is with great pride, that was delighted that recently won the Employer of Distinction Award—from Kitchener, Ontario’s Conestoga College and its Co-op Department.’s mission is to provide global talent solutions in ag and food—and having talented individuals within our own midst certainly helps better engage with candidates and employers within the industry. was nominated by recent co-op student Sydney, who described to Conestoga an “amazing work experience” with us. Thank-you, Sydney—although it takes two to tango.

According to Conestoga College, and, have had many other previous co-op work term students identify the rich learning experience provided to them.

Between four to six employees are annually presented this award during Conestoga’s Employer Recognition Awards Event—this year, the virtual event was held earlier in March 2022.

“The college has been hosting this event since 2006, and has since grown to include other departments within the college such as our Career Centre, Corporate Training, Work Integrated Learning and our Alumni Services,” explained Teresa Lee, Employer Relations Consultant at Conestoga College. “We recognize that our success is not possible without the support of our employer partners.”

The Co-op Department awards are broken down by two categories: Employer of Distinction and Mentor awards. Within the past three years, it also added the President's Employer Award of Distinction.

Lee noted that Conestoga College currently has 63 co-op programs and growing, with the number of co-op students out in the community gaining real life work experience varying.

“Our Fall and Winter terms may have between 500-600 students and the busy Spring term can have 1,500 to 1,700-plus,” said Lee.

Helping out are over 1,500+ co-op employers hiring Conestoga’s co-op students each year.

“Employers that hire from our co-op programs have a high percentage rate of welcoming these students back as full-time employees,” added Lee.

At and, there have been up to 11 co-op students in at a time from Conestoga, a number pushed even higher with students from many other schools.   

Kathryn Doan Director, Talent Solutions Team,, noted how the co-op programs are an important part of career development for the students.

“As the leader of the business, it was a very gratifying experience to see the connections made along the way for many of our co-op students to the world of career possibilities available now through their work experience with an agriculture company such as,” Doan related.

Noting the positive work experience opportunity, Doan added: “Many co-op students have asked to come back to work with our Talent Solutions team for another term or for part-time or full-time work.”

Doan said that the co-op students are placed in opportunities at that are reflective of their strengths and passion, and provided with projects and tasks that will help the co-op student grow and develop professional skills through their time with the team.

Some of the duties performed, include: supporting the organization and coordination of the Feed Your Future Virtual Career Fair events across North America, as well as the Feeding Your Future project with OFA and CAP funding in Ontario; helping with industry and jobseeker specific webinars for’s employer and candidate communities; social media sharing; customer services; job posting concierge service support; creating an Agriculture Compensation Benchmark Review (Salary Survey) & HR Review Survey; working on the FoodGrads Transition & Education Connection with colleges and universities across Canada; compiling results from the Food Salary Survey; performing graphic design; and adding to the site’s Agriculture & Food career education.

With a special “Thank you” to Chris McLoughlin, Katie Hunter, Bonnie Johnson and Charlotte Smith for helping lead the co-op students at, Doan was proud of the Conestoga award recognition.

“I am honoured to accept this award on behalf of our whole team. We have a team of individuals who have worked closely with the Conestoga co-op students, and I’m so very thankful for the talented individuals Conestoga has and continues to connect us with through their education programs,” said Doan.

“We have truly enjoyed getting to know each of them and have valued their contributions to our business. Thank you, Conestoga, for the relationship, and for providing high-quality students wiling to dive in, learn and develop skill sets by working with our team.”

Summed up Doan: “As a Talent Solutions business that is innovative with our thinking as well as engaging with our agriculture & food community, we are committed to continue to shape students’ skillsets and development with their career experiences through the strong co-op system.”

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