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AALP leadership program prolonged due to COVID


July 14, 2020
By Rural Ontario Institute
The AALP Class of 2018.

The Rural Ontario Institute (ROI) has announced that it will be prolonging the duration of the Advanced Agricultural Leadership Program (AALP) Class of 2018. Known for its interactive participant seminars, study tours and exposure to world-wide networks, the experiential executive leadership program which normally runs for 18 months is waiting for COVID restrictions to be lifted sufficiently to enable them to deliver the curriculum appropriately and safely.

Fall 2020 seminars will be pushed back into winter 2021, and the international study tour postponed until summer 2021. Participants are willing to prolong their participation to complete their leadership journey. “We are hopeful that within four to six months the situation will allow ROI to organize our study tour destinations as well as hold our provincial seminar locations safely,” says ROI in a release.

Leadership Programs Director, Gabe Ferguson, says “I am very encouraged by the fact that at this point no Class 18 sponsors have withheld their year two support due to COVID uncertainties. We appreciate this trust and think that this is the best plan to respect their confidence in ROI.”

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In the interim ROI will be working to increase the breadth and accessibility of agriculture and rural leadership training, the information resources for rural leaders, and community and organization development capacity building. “We were already responding to what we had heard loud and clear from our network” says Norm Ragetlie, executive director, “they wanted ongoing learning opportunities with choice around time commitments, price point, formats and topics. Now with COVID the transformation of ROI service offerings is more urgent. This hiatus in AALP will give us some focused time to build on our strength of connecting rural leaders across multiple sectors and we will continue to involve partners in this transformation.”

Keith Currie, OFA president says, “AALP has consistently developed exceptional leaders that have navigated different substantive challenges for the agricultural sector.” He adds that, “Although Class 18 may take longer to complete their journey, they will have the unique opportunity to reflect as a group and draw on the lessons learned from the actions of different leaders throughout COVID-19. OFA is a proud supporter of AALP and we look forward to continuing to follow Class 18 through to their graduation.”

The Advanced Agricultural Leadership Program (AALP) is an 18-month experiential executive leadership program for those who want to shape the future of the agriculture and food industry and make a positive difference in rural communities across Ontario. The program has been running for 36 years with close to 500 alumni leading in diverse roles within industry, organizations and farm businesses provincially and globally.

The curriculum includes a series of seminars, study tours – North American and international – and small group issues analysis projects for agriculture, food and rural community clients. There is approximately 45 days of in-session programming. Program focus is on building foundational skills and providing the context for practicing them in a safe but challenging environment. Curriculum adapts with relevant topics for each class to promote new multi-stakeholder approaches while developing critical self-analysis.

Study topics include government and political systems, marketing and economics, national and international trade, communication and organization skills, self-awareness and interrelationships, negotiation and decision making, consumers and social licence, media relations, agri-food trends, globalization and the dynamics of change. 

Participants of the 2018 program include:

  • Betty-Jo Almond: General Manager for AgSights company that manages for data for beef, goat and sheep producers and processors.
  • David Beking: Co-owner of Beking’s Poultry Farm, an egg farm and distribution company in Eastern Ontario.
  • Victoria Berry: Communications team lead at Grain Farmers of Ontario, focusing on farmer-members and the public engagment
  • Jaime Carson: Dairy nutrition advisor for Shur-Gain feed supplier.
  • Danielle Collins: Policy analyst for the Ontario Federation of Agriculture.
  • David Colyn: Manager of Risk Management and Claims at Trillium Mutual Insurance
  • Carolyn Cornelissen: Co-owner and operater of Cornelissen Farms Inc  crops, a grain elevator, broiler chickens and greenhouse bell peppers.
  • Christopher Duyvelshoff: Crop protection advisor at the fruit and vegetable growers association.
  • Emma Lackey: General manager of the Ottawa Valley Farm Show, Ontario
  • Justine Lennox: Agronomy Service Co-ordinator with North Wellington Farmers Co-op
  • Marin MacNamara: Farmer and manages  Bonnefield Financial Inc. farms in Eastern Canada
  • Aaron McQueen: Independent crop advisor and Pioneer seed agent from Haldimand County, Ontario
  • Beth Mitchell: Farmer of pork and a registered veterinarian technician for the Rabies Response Team
  • Philip Nywening: Breeder broiler farmer in Thamesville, Ontario
  • Scott Persall: Farmer of grain and oilseeds and raise laying hens and pullets and director for Grain Farmers of Ontario
  • Lisa Power: Farmer of grain and oilseeds and Pioneer Territory Manager with Corteva Agrisciences
  • Maria Jose Ramirez Giraldo: Programs analyst with the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association
  • Angela Reimneitz: Market and Research Analyst with the Ontario Processing Vegetable Growers
  • Geoffrey Smith: Senior industry specialist for seed and specialty crops at Agricorp, Ontario.
  • Felix Weber: CEO of Ag Business & Crop Inc. and cofounder/Vice President of CartoCanada.
  • Kaitlin Worden-Collins: Account manager at Agrico Canada