Welcome to the Inaugural Seminar of AALP Class 20

Date: October 13, 2023

Author: Ryan Trim, AALP Class 20

What occurs when you gather twenty-three individuals who are complete strangers and encourage them to step out of their comfort zones, you ask them to bid farewell to their families and friends, temporarily set aside their work, and embrace a new challenge? It might sound unusual, but this marks the inception of something truly extraordinary that is bound to alter the course of their lives indefinitely.

Welcome to the inaugural seminar of Class 20 of the Advanced Agricultural Leadership Program (AALP), which took place in St. Catharines, Ontario in early September.

After introductions the Class jumped right into Agents of Adaptability with Jay Reid and Hayley Kellett from the Making Box.  The conversation started with acknowledging that as future leaders, adaptability is not only a skill that we will need to learn but embrace full heartily.   Jay and Hayley guided the Class through a number of interactive and fun activities to help us better understand the benefits of growth, curiosity, and accepting different mindsets.

Next on the schedule, was "The Leadership Challenge" with facilitators Kelly Ann McKnight and George Pinho from Stone Ridge Consulting. This engaging presentation guided the Class through an exploration of what we considered to be the ideal qualities of a leader and encouraged self-reflection of our own attributes. We gained insights into the steps involved in developing our unique leadership styles and delved into strategies to improve our leadership effectiveness.

Once we had a solid grasp of the actions we should be taking, we took a closer look at our personal Leadership Practices Inventory (LPI) assessments. These assessments provided valuable insights into our leadership styles, traits, and personalities, as evaluated by our peers back home. The results from the LPI offered the Class a substantial and thought-provoking understanding of how our peers perceive our leadership abilities.

Thursday evening, the Class convened for a formal welcome banquet, featuring a series of speeches delivered by esteemed past alumni, dignitaries and distinguished guests, and a thought-provoking presentation by Megz Reynolds, Executive Director of The Do More Ag Foundation on the theme of "Building Resiliency Together."

On Friday, the agenda shifted away from the classroom as the Class had the opportunity to embark on a series of enlightening site tours within the Niagara Region. The itinerary included visits to Kai Wiens Family Farm, the historic Brock Monument, Vineland Growers Co-Operative, The Food and Beverage Innovation Center at Niagara College, and a captivating presentation on cannabis production and marketing, accompanied by a tour of the Bunker at Niagara College.

Saturday morning saw the conclusion of the first seminar with the Class 20 Board of Directors meeting. We made it! The past three and a half days were brimming with thrilling challenges, the forging of new relationships, and the feeling that we were setting out on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. As I conclude this post, I'd like to share one of my favorite quotes: "If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together" - author unknown.