Guelph, ON, July 25, 2016 - Over 10 days in early July, the future agricultural leaders that make up the current Advanced Agriculture Leadership (AALP) class were exposed to interactive learning through their North America Study Tour (NAST).
The 2016 NAST included stops in Eastern Ontario, Quebec, New York State, Washington DC, Maryland and Pennsylvania focusing on production challenges, unique marketing initiatives, environmental obligations and the evolving concept of social license. Each stop offered a unique perspective for the class members to learn about and to analyze through discussion amongst the class.
The multitude of stops included a processing vegetable facility, several farm market operations, a couple different dairy operations, the Canadian Embassy, the battlefield in Gettysburg and the campus of Pennsylvania State, among others.
Throughout the tours, common issues arose. For example, many stops included discussions around an easement on land development rights – an alternative approach to Ontario’s ‘Green-Belt’ program. This approach allows for land owners to ensure that their land is not developed in the future by receiving monetary compensation, but it struggles by creating large swaths of contiguous land bases that are protected. Another common theme was that of “social license” – the concept that society has a vested interest in how food is produced and the role agricultural leaders can play in both earning and maintaining societal acceptance of farming practices.
The trip also included many inspirational examples of how hard work, dedication and a vision can move agriculture forward as well as how it can stagnate if those things are missing or ignored. Zach Gihorski, a current class member of the Pennsylvania equivalent to AALP, The Rural Urban Leadership (RULE), summed up the experience perfectly by telling the class “when you leave here, remember why you came.”
The current AALP class began in September 2015, and the NAST experience marks approximately the half-way point for the class of 16, which concludes in March of next year. To follow the rest of journey, connect on Twitter at @AALPClass or like the AALP Facebook page.
During the 19-month program, AALP participants learn about leadership and organizational development theories and practices, government and political process, economics, trade policy, global affairs, sector and industry related issues in Ontario and globally through seminars across Ontario, analysis issue projects, the NAST and an international study component.
AALP is delivered by the Rural Ontario Institute (ROI). Established in 1984, the Advanced Agricultural Leadership Program (AALP) has graduated almost 450 leaders who are making a positive difference across Ontario and beyond. For more information, visit ruralontarioinstitute.ca/aalp.
For information, contact:
Chief Executive Officer
Rural Ontario Institute
(519) 826-4204 (Ext. 222)