"Community is very important to me and since agriculture is my community I believe in speaking up for it."
Pamela Ganske laughs when asked about her approach to agvocating.
“Pretty much anywhere I go, I am always talking about agriculture and ways to share it. Anyone who knows me knows that I get really excited talking about agriculture.”
Growing up on a dairy farm outside of Wetaskiwin, AB, Pamela had the opportunity from an early age to witness dedication for supporting Canadian agriculture both on and off the farm – her father proudly ran the family farm, while her mother worked with Parkland Fertilizers and was one of the first female owners of a crop retail input.
But despite that influence, Pamela admits she did not always see herself having a career in agriculture.
It was while pursuing her Bachelor of Commerce degree that her career path took a turn. Pamela recalls that during university breaks, she would often find herself tagging along with her mother to attend an agriculture-related conference or meeting. Realizing her enthusiasm and interest for the industry, Pamela returned to her hometown after completing her degree to work at Parkland Fertilizers, now a division of the Wetaskiwin Co-op.
“My interest in agriculture may not have come right away,” Pamela says, “but it has been a natural fit, and I have been very fortunate.”
With Parkland Fertilizers, a proud Agriculture More Than Ever partner, Pamela has been able to embrace and share her passion for agvocating by helping organize events that serve to not only educate but also capture people’s interest about the industry. A particular passion project of Pamela’s has been working on Parkland Fertilizers’ own ‘Ambassadors of Agriculture’ program.
“For our staff, especially those who are not in the fields, we found that it wasn’t easy to talk about what it is we do in agriculture. Even for our customers, who are farmers, it can be a bit daunting to describe what you do and why it is important to share what you do,” she explains. “With Parkland’s Ambassador program, we are trying to give our staff and our customers the tools they need to go out and share with their neighbours, with their friends, and throughout their community what they do and what agriculture looks like today.”
Always looking for new opportunities to promote agriculture in her community, Pamela has developed many collaborative partnerships with local businesses and organizations – including working with the Wetaskiwin and District Heritage Museum to host four different events to celebrate the inaugural Canada’s Agriculture Day, and teaming up with the local school board to find ways to incorporate agriculture into the curriculum.
“I try to make our events about more than just telling people about agriculture, but also showing it to them, making it real.”
Ambassador for agriculture
With an overwhelming amount of information circulating about the agriculture industry, Pamela acknowledges it can be difficult for consumers to identify truths from myths, and know where to go to find resources. As the Agriculture More Than Ever Ambassador for Alberta, Pamela says she is looking forward to providing people with opportunities to learn more about the industry.
“You can hear off comments in the media about agriculture, and you question how people can believe some of the information out there. But I also don’t think it is appropriate to laugh or criticize anyone for those views; they just haven’t had an opportunity to learn about agriculture or where their food comes from,” she explains.
“I want to give people that opportunity to learn more about agriculture and also help encourage other agvocates to be inspired to promote the industry in new and different ways.”
She adds that, since so few Canadians have a connection to agriculture nowadays (less than three per cent, according to Statistics Canada), it is necessary to share the story of this vibrant industry in a way that is relevant to consumers.
“People love food, and it’s also a great conversation starter. Agriculture is a pretty broad subject and a bit intimidating to some people. But food is something that is relatable to us all; it connects each and every one of us.”
When asked why she believes in the importance of agvocating, Pamela points out the repercussions of leaving important decisions about the industry in the hands of people who do not understand agriculture.
“If individuals who do not understand agriculture are the ones making decisions, then there could be some dire consequences for the whole world. The scary truths are imminent if we are not sharing what we are doing,” Pamela explains.
“Personally, I am proud of what we have accomplished so far as an industry. Community is very important to me and since agriculture is my community I believe in speaking up for it. I want to support the industry that has supported me.”