OFA; Building strong leaders for Ontario agriculture
By Jackie Kelly-Pemberton, Director, Ontario Federation of Agriculture
Strong leadership forms the foundation of any government, organization and business. We’ve seen our fair share of leaders vying for recognition and positions lately with the federal election, and it’s a good reminder of the qualities that make successful leadership.
For more than 80 years, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) has promoted and cultivated the growth and development of leaders in our province. The ability to inspire with honesty and integrity, and lead with passion for agriculture are qualities OFA supports in our elected officials, staff and local volunteers. In agriculture, we’re fortunate to have several programs dedicated to the development of leadership skills to ensure our sector is known, heard and respected.
OFA’s Proud to Lead “Involve” Fund promotes the development of county and regional federation leadership through project and event sponsorship. This unique provincial initiative is designed to help promote and support new training and events for OFA members in their local communities. As a grassroots organization, OFA knows the support and development of leadership starts at the local level. OFA, in partnership with Farm Credit Canada, funded 30 Proud to Lead projects in 2019 including educational training seminars, agri-business tours, government advocacy events, mental health workshops and road safety programs.
At a provincial level, OFA supports the Advanced Agricultural Leadership Program (AALP), recently increasing our annual sponsorship to $20,000 this year. OFA recognizes AALP as the premier leadership program for our agricultural industry and Ontario’s rural communities. Several OFA board members and staff are graduates of the program, applying their leadership development to strengthen our organization and the agri-food sector. AALP is an 18-month experiential executive leadership program designed for anyone interested in shaping the future of the agriculture and food industry and making a positive difference in rural communities across Ontario. The program has more than 460 alumni across the province and is currently hosting its 18th class.
As an advocacy organization, OFA knows trusted leadership is critical to the future of our organization, and as a Class 14 AALP graduate myself, programs such as this ensure we have leaders for the long-term strength of our industry.