By Kim McConnell
These are exciting times. Enthusiasm in the ag industry is at an all-time high. Interest from outside our industry to become involved in ag has never been stronger. And the number of specialists and experts offering tips and feedback to our industry is at an unprecedented level.
But who are the best people to speak up for our industry? Who in agriculture will make an impact with urban and non-industry audiences? Smart, passionate, articulate young farmers and young agricultural professionals – that’s who.
I believe no one can do this better. They’re actively involved and invested in our industry. They’re making a personal commitment to ensure business success, land and animal stewardship, and the production of safe, quality food and food ingredients.
Young, tech-savvy farmers and agricultural professionals that have business skills and entrepreneurial passion are leaders in ag communities across Canada. They’re the new generation and their dedication will keep our industry strong.
One of my great joys in life is working with this new generation of leaders. As a mentor to a young farm couple, and three rapidly growing entrepreneurial businesses, I get to share my experiences and watch how they turn challenges into opportunity and success – that’s the fun job of being a mentor. I believe others from my generation can really make a difference by becoming mentor.
If you’re a mentee, don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you want to meet with someone, or you have a question, ask. My experience is that people are almost always willing to help a member of the younger generation who asks a reasonable question. I also suggest you work hard in expanding your network – ask to meet with people you’ve never met, travel and try to experience what others are doing in your local area, across the province or around the world.
And mentors, tell stories not lectures. I’ve noticed people respond much better when I convey a story or experience rather than telling them what I think they should do.
I honestly believe the passion and energy of the younger generation, combined with the experience and connections of my generation can bring significant progress to our industry.
The image of agriculture in the eyes and minds of consumers and investors could do with an upgrade. And I can think of no better face to lead the way than the profile of agriculture’s new generation.
Grab a camera as the future of Canadian agriculture is looking bright.
The journey continues …
Kim McConnell is the founder and former CEO of AdFarm, a respected North American agricultural marketing communications firm.