Helping young farmers gain confidence through the Alberta Canola Leaders Program
By Yvonne Dick
The Canola Leaders Program (CLP) is entering its third year with good results all around.
The Alberta Canola Producers Commission began the project to assist young farmers (those under 40) and to allow board members to pass on their knowledge. Through mentorship, they encourage another generation to advocate for the ag industry.
The CLP offers a yearly two-day course.
“Every year we pick around 20 young leaders – approximately half men and half women – and we try to make (the group) diverse. We choose from the twelve (ACPC) regions of Alberta. Our goal is to teach (participants) four main things – strategic thinking, long-term planning, governance training and communication skills,” says Rick Taillieu, manager of grower relations and extension at the Alberta Canola Producers Commission.
Governance training covers the mechanics of boards and commissions, procedural items, and roles. CLP grads learn how to conduct themselves on a variety of boards and in different situations, such as helping change agricultural policy either locally or federally.
“Communications skills ensure you are getting across your message and effectively communicating. Our workshops teach young leaders how to talk about their issues with a range of people, including (those) on the governmental level,” says Taillieu.
It is important to join agricultural boards and learn through avenues such as the Canola Leadership Program, he says. Rural Alberta boards rely on their members and leaders to get things done in their communities.
Networking happens through a half- to full-day workshop and alumni event each year.
“Certainly there are big boots to fill in this industry. And Alberta Canola has left us a bit better equipped to embrace leadership: on our farms, in our communities, and for the industry,” says Melissa Stanford, one of the 2018 program participants and owner/operator of Bootstrap Farms.