District farmers will get a chance to offer their insights into Canada/U.S. relations to 30 students of the Advanced Agricultural Leadership Program who will be stopping here July 8-9.
The visit is part of the program’s two-week North American study tour. Rainy River District became a stop partially due to the fact one of its graduates, Kim Cornell, lives in Devlin.
“That’s my contribution [to the program],” said Cornell, who graduated from the AALP in 1989. “I have to do this job when they come through.”
The group’s objectives are to examine trade and policy issues between Canada and the States regarding agricultural production, processing, marketing, and distribution, as well as examining the socio-economic and cultural environment of the U.S. Midwest.
The main issues the group will be looking at here will be the “Lands for Life” process and access to resources, holistic management, and native issues and concerns, Cornell said.
The students will be meeting with NDP leader and local MPP Howard Hampton and Geoff Gillon, with the Rainy River Future Development Corp., to discuss the economic and political impacts in Northern Ontario.
Everything is being kept on a very tight timetable since the group is only here for one night and two days, Cornell said,, noting their meeting with Hampton and Gillon will happen shortly after they arrive July 8.
Their agenda for July 9 includes a visit to the Emo Research Station, which will give them a chance to meet district farmers and gauge the area’s cropping potential, as well as a trip to the Kay-Nah-Chi-Wah-Nung Mounds.
Although the AALP has its office at the University of Guelph, the program is funded through the Agricultural Leadership Trust, which represents both public and private sectors.
The course runs over a period of two years, and students must attend nine three-day seminars held in nine different Ontario locations. They also must take a two-week international study travel on top of the North American tour.
Farmers, bankers, food retailers, and civil servants are just some of the people who end up taking the program. Tuition is $4,000, and there is no “big test” at the end, Cornell said.
But he added the course is very intense and very worthwhile if your intent is to improve your leadership skills.
“It’s a participatory thing,” he said. “You either stick with and learn something or you don’t.”