With declining youth participation in agriculture, farm groups across the country are looking for more ways to engage millennials in this important industry.
The Alberta Wheat Commission and Alberta Barley launched the AdvancingAg Future Leaders Program in order to inspire future farm leaders through a leadership and mentorship experience.
“The AdvancingAg Future Leaders Program is about fostering a strong network of future agriculture leaders for a progressive and vibrant cropping industry in Alberta,” says Kevin Bender, Vice-Chair of the Alberta Wheat Commission and a member of the AdvancingAg Selection Committee.
“The goal is to pair young agri-professionals – whether that is young farmers or those interested in a specific career in the agriculture industry – with leaders who can share their knowledge and experience and facilitate key professional development opportunities.”
For those in the 18-35 age range, career opportunities may seem hard to come by. Agriculture, however, could be the solution to this problem.
In Canada, one in eight jobs are related to agriculture and agri-food—that’s 2.2 million people employed in the industry. This ranges from producers to crop researchers, ag-related sales to transportation.
AdvancingAg is a 10 to 12 month program that will pair selected mentees with a carefully selected mentor who is passionate about the agriculture industry, eager to share their experience and help shape the professional growth of a young agri-professional.
Mentors and mentees will be paired up based on the interests and career goals of the mentee.
There are other mentorship programs hosted by farm groups, but with a focus on the cropping sector in Alberta, AdvancingAg is a little different.
“We felt it was important to launch a program like this for the cropping sector because we want to advance the skills of young agri-professionals as they start their careers and provide them with industry-specific training, networking and learning opportunities,” added Dave Bishop, Vice-Chair of Alberta Barley and a member of the AdvancingAg Selection Committee. “The program will be flexible and tailored to the goals and aspirations of the mentee.”
In the first year of the program, eight mentees will be selected and partnered up with mentors that meet their goals. Following the first year, the number of mentees will increase to 15.
Young agri-professionals interested in applying to become a mentee in the AdvancingAg Future Leaders Program can visit www.advancingag.ca to complete an application. The deadline for applications is March 13, 2017. Each mentee will be paired with a mentor, as well as provided a budget for professional development opportunities, and AdvancingAg will host a workshop-style leadership forum for the successful applicants.