Welcoming AALP Class 17

Date: October 6, 2017

I had the opportunity this week to meet, welcome and work with the 17th class of the Advanced Agricultural Leadership Program. As I reflect on the past few days I am exhausted just thinking about it and yet I didn’t do nearly as much as the 18 class members in this cohort. Their commitment, dedication and passion for Ontario's agricultural, agri-food and rural sectors was certainly evident!

Established in 1984, the Advanced Agricultural Leadership Program (AALP) is an executive leadership and personal development program for men and women in all areas of Ontario’s agriculture and food industry who aspire to help shape the future of Ontario’s agriculture, agri-food and rural sectors. More than 465 graduates now use their increased skills and knowledge of the entire agri-food system to work with others to lead, direct and manage change within the industry.  They are recognized for their courage and confidence to move forward, building stronger agricultural and rural communities within the province and beyond.
The success of the program centres on the participants and what they learn about themselves and others through their involvement in the program which includes eight seminars and two travel opportunities over the course of 18 months. This is one of the few opportunities where a group of up to 30 individuals from across the agriculture, agri-food and rural sectors have the opportunity to see, learn, meet, discuss and debate issues impacting their industry and sector over an extended period of time. Through presentations, questions, answers and dialogue with community leaders and innovators across the province and beyond, class members gain a greater knowledge of themselves and leadership theory and practice, as well as agriculture, agri-food and rural issues facing us here in Ontario, Canada and around the world.  
I’ve always said that I have one of the best jobs in the world… I get to work in the agriculture, agri-food and rural arena, with a tremendous group of individuals here at the Rural Ontario Institute and on the ROI Board of Directors and AALP Advisory Committee. At the same time I also get to meet, interact, engage and rub shoulders with the likes of the 18 members of AALP Class 17... true, committed and passionate leaders from across rural Ontario. As you might expect, it is extremely rewarding for me… each and every day!  
I am looking forward to engaging regularly with AALP Class 17 – a stellar group of individuals.