Education Opportunities for Farmers and Future Farmers
July 16, 2021 | Paul Bootsma
Education continues to be a real part of farming. In today’s business climate, it is an important aspect of being successful in food production.
There are many ways education can benefit farmers today. We’re seeing a constant upgrade in technology, animal husbandry and cropping expertise. Many companies offer various types of presentations for customers to learn all this new material. Even those who work in agriculture but not on the farm constantly need to learn the new stuff.
Not many decades ago, the next generation of farmers would learn on the farm. As youngsters, they were involved almost daily in the work that was required to succeed. Today, most future farmers will also spend a few years in the halls of learning.
That’s why the CFFO commits $10,000 annually in scholarships to students planning a future in the agriculture and agri-food industry. These students must be the children or grandchildren of CFFO members and must be enrolled in full-time studies in an agriculture-related program in Ontario for the upcoming academic year. The deadline to apply is July 31, and we are accepting applications now. More information can be found at christianfarmers.org/scholarship. Please encourage the college and university students in your life to apply.
A number of our district Christian Farmers Associations also offer scholarships to their members’ students. Please contact our head office for more information on district scholarships.
The CFFO recognizes the need for education and supports programs for new farmers but also for those already invested in the industry, which is why the CFFO supports the Advanced Agricultural Leadership Program (AALP), offered through the Rural Ontario Institute. This program is designed to challenge those currently in the industry to become leaders in their field. The program consists of a number of learning sessions over approximately 18 months and includes seminars and study tours to learn about a broad range of issues in agriculture.
During the current pandemic, we have learned the opportunity technology allows to both communicate and learn. Over the past year and a half, meetings, conferences, and even farm shows have gone online, and the opportunities to learn have expanded for many. Well attended conferences, such as the Southwest Agricultural Conference and the Grey Bruce Farmers Week, went virtual and saw the benefit of expanded audiences, even including international attendees.
So put on the thinking cap, and take advantage of learning opportunities, whether through formal education, leadership training programs, online courses or webinars. Make it a habit to take a day or two to virtually learn about new technology, science or growing crops. Education is at the tip of your finger and waiting to be absorbed. Today’s farming requires a lot of learning, and there is never an end to gaining knowledge.
Paul Bootsma is Field Services Manager for the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario. The CFFO Commentary represents the opinions of the writer and does not necessarily represent CFFO policy. The CFFO Commentary is heard weekly on CFCO Chatham, CKXS Chatham, CKNX Wingham, and CHLP Listowel.