By Taylor Peppler, Agriculture Awareness Intern, Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture
Transparency is one of the key drivers of public trust and as we know, trust and understanding are at the foundation of social licence. So how can you, as industry partners, become more transparent? Phillip Lynn and Kristin Hunter from Buffalo Plains Feedlot and Blaine McLeod of Caroncrest Dairy did just that while collaborating with post-secondary students to promote agriculture awareness and the diversity of careers the industry offers.
Students in Saskatchewan Polytechnic’s Environmental Engineering Technology program learn how to minimize the adverse impacts of human activity on the natural world. To help students in the course understand agriculture’s impact on the environment, Lynn, Hunter and McLeod worked with the Ministry of Agriculture’s Bryan Gourlie and the course instructor, Teresa Bomersbach, to provide students with an all-access pass to the industry.
Two students, Jeffrey Nikolejsin and Alesha Pilloud, were shown how intensive livestock operations are regulated to minimize impacts to water resources, touring both Buffalo Plains Feedlot and Caroncrest Dairy. The intent was to expose students to agriculture and, as Gourlie noted, “show them how agricultural developments are managed and regulated to ensure environmental protection.” The effort would also improve their awareness of agricultural production practices and illustrate career opportunities.
Nikolejsin and Pilloud displayed particular interest in learning more about livestock development and pursued the topic for their final project. Lynn and Hunter showed the students their state-of-the-art feedlot and associated infrastructure. Hunter spent a lot of time ensuring the students learned about animal care and feedlot health. McLeod took a similar approach showing how his dairy operates, discussing how manure is managed and explaining the Dairy Farmers of Canada “proAction” programs. The time, effort and enthusiasm these partners showed while telling their agriculture story was inspiring.
Saskatchewan Polytechnic instructor Teresa Bomersbach admitted that agricultural careers aren’t always on her students’ radar, but the engagement with industry partners helped them begin to thinkAG. Her students agreed.
“I feel that I've learned so much more about the industry and the challenges it faces and really enjoyed applying my knowledge through a practical setting,” Pilloud said. “It was a great experience to meld both my passions for the environment and agriculture together. I hope to continue working in agriculture in some form in the future and hope to contribute in any way I can to educating the public and improving myself and others.”
The industry tour hosts embraced their roles in doing what they can to help secure our industry’s social licence by being proactive, listening to questions, and answering them honestly.