By: Shayla Hertz, BSA, AAg, Agriculture Awareness Intern, Regional Services Branch
In 2014, the Saskatchewan Institute of Agrologists (SIA) launched a Student Ambassador program at the University of Saskatchewan in an effort to increase awareness of the Agrology profession. The program has successfully engaged youth in leadership development and creating awareness of the SIA’s mission to regulate the profession of agrology in Saskatchewan. As a result of the SIA program, student affiliate memberships have increased by 88 students over the last 3 years – a true testament to the value of peer to peer marketing.
New at the beginning of this school year, the Ministry of Agriculture partnered with the SIA to include an agvocacy element in their Ambassador Program and partner on leadership development initiatives.
In the past, the Ambassadors attended on-campus events with the College of Agriculture and Bioresources, delivered class presentations, and held recruitment events. These activities are continuing this year, but with an emphasis on creating opportunities for youth to take a leadership role in improving public perception of agriculture. The Student Ambassadors are spokespersons for the agriculture industry, passionate about teaching others about agriculture and food production. They promote industry events and programming that support leadership development initiatives. The five students selected as ambassadors promote on-campus awareness efforts and identify opportunities to cultivate positive relationships with students in other colleges at the university to connect them with agriculture.
The Ambassadors represent both the SIA and the Ministry of Agriculture, as well as play an influential role in building other students’ understanding of agrology and the public’s trust in modern agriculture. They encourage their peers to embrace their responsibility as future professional agrologists and communicate the importance of being ethical, transparent, and science-based when making decisions and providing advice to clients and consumers. The Ambassadors motivate fellow agvocates to take an active role in speaking up for modern agriculture, encouraging them to share their stories about food and farming.
The first few months of this partnership have been a great success with the Ambassadors having established a strong presence on the university campus. They have utilized their personal networks and social media platforms to speak to captive audiences, spreading awareness of their personal connections to agriculture and sharing their food and farming stories during October’s Agriculture Month campaign. They have done presentations to multiple student clubs, encouraging engagement and attendance at industry events that allow for education and promotion of modern agriculture and food. Additionally, industry and SIA member engagement in supporting the Ambassador Program has increased as a result of this new partnership combined with the overall awareness of the success of this youth development initiative over the last few years. Identifying sustainable ways to promote youth leadership development is a key priority for all of us - the SIA, the Ministry of Agriculture, and industry organizations. Recognizing and supporting young leaders who seek out and cultivate other young leaders helps to create a resilient future for Saskatchewan agriculture.
For more information on the Ministry’s involvement in the SIA Student Ambassador Program, contact Shayla Hertz, Agriculture Awareness Intern at 306-787-929. To learn more about how you can support the SIA Student Ambassador Program, please contact their Communications and Marketing Coordinator, Jennifer Buxton at 306-242-2606.