It’s nice to receive recognition from your peers. It is particularly nice when your peers are also your friends and the recognition occurs in a place of special emotional significance.
All these things came together for Elaine Froese during last week’s Agriculture Excellence Conference held at Winnipeg, Man. It was in the ballroom of the historic hotel that Froese delivered the valedictory address for her high school graduating class. It was also where Froese delivered the valedictory address for her graduating class of home economists from the University of Manitoba and now it’s where she accepted the Wilson Loree Award, handed out by Farm Management Canada (FMC).
Froese received the award for having “made an extraordinary contribution to advancing agricultural business management practices in Canada.” (story continues after audio)
FMC started in 1992 under a different name and Froese has been working alongside the organization since its early days. As she says, “I have been doing collaborative work with FMC since the mid nineties, 1993 I was part of the national farm women’s training committee and that’s when I was introduced to the Canadian Farm Business Management Council, now known as Farm Management Canada.”
Froese is the first to admit that her passion does not reside in the numbers side of management, but there is more to FMC than numbers. “I’m all about clarity of expectation, certainty of agreement, and getting commitment to action for farm transition, so that’s really where my specialty is and that’s where my passion lies,” she says.
The organizers of this year’s Ag Excellence Conference made a conscience choice to weave the discussions of mental health throughout the event, and not isolate the topic to a single presentation. This approach suited Froese just fine because she has always felt that emotional factors should be given more consideration in all business decisions.
Froese likes what she sees happening now as people and organizations start to bring forward some topics that no one wanted to talk about in the past. “Now the conversation has shifted… I am also a sponsor of Do More Ag because I myself am a depression survivor and have worked all my life to de-stigmatize mental health and talking about the tough issues.”
Related: Mental health is not a sidebar
As good as it is that space is being provided for people to have conversations at conferences like Ag Ex, Froese wants people to know that this is just the beginning, and that there is far more support available. “If the listeners to this interview can just understand there’s tonnes of resources out there, but you need to talk, you need to listen and you need to act. Farm Management Canada and Heather Watson and her team have put on this Ag Excellence conference on an annual basis, it tours all across Canada to help farm families know there are lots of tools to help them do better.”