Chelsea Boonstra’s enthusiasm for being an agvocate can best be summed up with one word – inspiring.
“It’s hard to put into words just how proud I am to be a part of this great industry. My passion for it grows stronger every day.”
For Chelsea, that passion started at an early age while growing up on a 6,500-acre grain and dairy farm run by her father and uncle in Meadows, MB. While she still helps out around the family farm when they need a couple of extra hands, Chelsea now works full-time as a sales agronomist for Paterson Grain. It’s a position that has her away from the office and out in fields most days during the warmer months, and, as Chelsea says, that suits her just fine.
“I am so happy when I am out in the fields; I just love watching crops grow,” she laughs. “Eventually, I would like to go back to the farm and be there full-time, but right now I am really enjoying working in the industry off the farm, meeting new people and learning from others.”
Chelsea’s agvocating journey began when she was in the final year of studying for her Diploma in Agriculture at the University of Manitoba. As part of the program, Chelsea had to put together a video about her family’s farm operation, which, after completing the project (The Real Truth About Family Farms), she decided to share on social media. Initially thinking a couple of people from her hometown might be interested in seeing it, Chelsea says she was completely taken aback by the enormous and positive response that her video generated. The video even attracted the interest of Kevin Folta, chairman of the horticultural sciences department at the University of Florida, who invited Chelsea to participate in his podcast.
“There are so many negative things about agriculture out there in the media, and I think that makes a lot of people scared to share pictures and videos of their farming operation. I want to help change that.”
Since sharing that first video, Chelsea has used social media to give others an “inside look” at what it’s like working in agriculture – both on and off the farm. And as an aspiring amateur photographer, she adds that she sees great value in using photos and video to “bring the farm right to people.”
“You can get a lot of different people’s attention from sharing a simple photo. And that’s the whole point of agvocating, of promoting our industry. We want people to see what we are doing so that we can change the way that agriculture is perceived.”
An Ambassador for agriculture
As the Agriculture More Than Ever Ambassador for Manitoba, Chelsea says she is looking forward to encouraging conversation about Canadian agriculture, adding that the best way for people to learn about the industry is to feel comfortable asking questions.
“As an Ambassador, I want to reach out to as many people as I can. I want to not only share my story but get others to share their stories as well. And I especially want people to ask questions; I want people to know where to go for accurate information so they can learn more about this great industry,” says Chelsea, adding that she is thrilled each time someone reaches out to her with a question about agriculture.
“Being an agvocate isn’t something I am getting paid to do, it’s something I want to do. There is such a great satisfaction that comes from helping others learn about agriculture or changing people’s perspective about it.”
Given that people can be quick to leap to conclusions and pass judgment when it comes to agriculture, Chelsea adds, is all the more reason for those in the industry to speak up and share the truth about Canadian agriculture.
“As an industry, we need to keep sharing our stories to explain what we do and why. We need to get rid of the perception that so much of what we do is harmful to the environment and the human body,” explains Chelsea.
“This is an industry to be proud of, not put down. That’s why I’m an agvocate.”