Seed World

Balancing the Responsibility of Being on Ag Boards

When joining agriculture boards, the key is to be realistic about the duties and time involved.

Joining an agriculture board can be a rewarding process that gives you professional opportunities, but it’s also a lot of work. In order to succeed on the board, both you and the organization need to be realistic when it comes to what all is involved.

“Managing expectations of the board, being really clear how committed you are,” Ashley Knapton says on the April 27 episode of Seed Speaks. “For me, I’m really seasonal, right? So, spring planting coming up, corn silage harvest in the fall, those are some of my really hectic times. And so just kind of making sure everyone’s upfront at the beginning to know where things are at.”

Knapton herself is a member of multiple ag boards including the Lanark Federation of Agriculture, Lanark County Soil and Crop, Ottawa Valley Seed Growers Association, Ontario Certified Crop Advisors and the Agricultural Adaptation Council. She also is the dairy strategic accounts manager with Corteva Agriscience for Ontario and the Maritimes and works on her family’s dairy farm.

While she is happy to be involved with ag boards, she reminds people not everyone in her younger generation is able to. Whether it’s due to them having to work fulltime non ag jobs on top of farming or starting to take on larger roles on their farms, there isn’t always the time to take on extra roles in the industry.

Mike Ammeter, chair of the Canadian Canola Growers Association and a board member of the Alberta Canola Producers Commission understands time commitment restraints. Ammeter operates a 1,400-acre grain farm in central Alberta near Sylvan Lake. He first became involved with ag boards after his children were older and he found himself with more time to spare.

“It’s tough when you have small kids at home, and you’re trying to do everything on your own. But back to how do you do it? It’s just you understand the commitment you made, you balance it,” he explains during the episode.

For those on ag boards there’s an ongoing struggle to find others to join. Ammeter says in his experience they’ll reach out to people who like to be engaged with the group and then answer any questions they have to try and alleviate any concerns they may have.

Board members also have hold back and not push people to join, Knapton adds.

“I think maybe the onus is also on us as more seasoned board people to sit back and say, let’s not jump on anyone who asks a question the first time. ‘Like, oh, fresh meat, new blood, let’s go.’ Let’s moderate our excitement.”

If you are interested in joining a board you can always reach out to current board members to ask them about how to join and what duties being a board member includes, Ammeter says.

The American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) has a leadership structure made up of a full executive and then various committees. To train and help members into those positions ASTA runs a Leadership, Education and Development Committee, this provides members with opportunities to expand their knowledge and gain experience in leadership skills.

“We really want to spend time training our members or giving education opportunities for our members, and with the goal of them being stronger leaders, not only in their own companies, but within the association as well,” Wayne Gale, past chair of ASTA, says during Seed Speaks.

Another important thing to remember is you don’t always have to say yes to joining boards either. Knapton, Ammeter and Gale have all said no when asked to join boards in the past.

“What I started trying to do is have some names in my back pocket to recommend. And that’s kind of a multisided thing that’s to help the board that’s looking for someone out to kind of say, ‘No, I’m really flattered. Let’s chat again in three to five years. But here’s someone who might be able to fill that gap for you,” Knapton adds.

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