It is hard to believe how fast time flies. I've been waiting for this moment for about 9 months. No - I'm not having a baby...but this day does certainly represent the start of a new type of "life".
As I write this I am sitting in Pearson airport in Toronto about to depart for Paris, France. In Paris (Reims, to be more specific) I will meet with 74 other Nuffield Scholars travelling from various countries around the world for the Contemporary Scholars Conference.
Each of us have been provided with a brief overview of each other in a program which outlines the week. Have you ever had to describe yourself in a few paragraphs? It is actually a very interesting exercise in "self reflection" which is a term I learned to hate when I was completing my Bachelor of Education).
As scholars, we each had to give a background on ourselves and list our research topic It is actually quite a funny exercise as you lay out what has brought you to your current position. Even stranger (and perhaps more difficult) is trying to sum up your intent for what you will study in the next two years.
I presume that each of the other 74 faces on the pages of the program have as much passion for their research topic as I do. There are some incredibly interesting topics ranging from very scientific production questions to examining methods of communicating with consumers, or the emotional well being of farmers. I can't wait to meet everyone within this program and turn them from faces on a page into peers that I have shared wonderful memories with!
We are all aware of the challenges and questions facing the modern agri-food sector. How can we reduce waste, improve productivity and minimize impact on the environment? What are the best mediums to communicate with consumers? Where will the future workforce come from?
But the biggest questions are - what steps are being taken to address these challenges, and what role are you going to play?
If you are looking for an opportunity to address a specific agricultural issue which is important to you, consider applying for a Nuffield Canada Agricultural Scholarship.
Why do it? Nuffield Scholars are able to access the world's best in agriculture. International travel, networking, and the sharing of best practices are key facets of the program.
Those who have completed a scholarship agree that there is some element which has changed their life. For many, the research that they conducted changed agriculture.
Take for example the story of Steve Larocque, highlighted in a recent article in the Ontario Grain Farmer magazine announcing the Grain Farmers of Ontario (GFO) support for a Nuffield Scholarship. According to the article, Larocque found "one of the most revolutionary farming systems since no-till" during his research. How amazing is that?
Other scholars have studied everything from mentorship programs to marketing strategies, but everyone has brought a fresh perspective to challenges facing the industry.
Who wouldn't want to grasp the chance to explore new horizons in a field of their choice?
The GFO article featured some perspectives on the Nuffield program from 3 scholars, including myself. It is clear that everyone is eager to share their experience and to encourage others to consider applying for a scholarship. In fact, Crosby Devitt encourages those who have questions to contact him. I know that my talks with alumni Karen Daynard and Clayton Robins were invaluable in providing focus to my application. I have already had the chance to speak with one potential applicant and would be happy to offer comments to others with questions about the process.
I encourage everyone who is reading this to ask yourself - what are you passionate about? What agri-food challenge do you want to address? How will you make a difference? The answer could be a Nuffield Scholarship. It is a real chance to make a positive impact on Canadian agriculture.
Applications are accepted until April 30, 2015. Visit Nuffield Canada for more information!
I was raised as the seventh generation on a mixed livestock farm near Guelph, Ontario. Currently I am living in the beautiful Okanagan region of BC, where my husband works for Blue Mountain Winery. I maintain my close ties to Ontario agriculture through my job with AgScape (Ontario Agri-Food Education Inc.) and hope to bring a national, and global perspective to agricultural issues.