Agriculture: my journey so far

If you had told me in high school or university that I would be working in the agricultural industry, I would have laughed and shaken my head.

A short while ago, I was managing a law firm and living in downtown Vancouver, worrying more about rain boots and labour law than winter coats and cereal crops.

Here I am though, living in Winnipeg and working for Cereals Canada as the director of communications and stakeholder relations.

The journey to get here has been an interesting one, personally and professionally and I have never been happier or more proud to be where I am.

I am constantly hearing about what has led people into this diverse industry. Each story is unique and highlights the mosaic that is the Canadian agricultural industry.

My story began with my move to Cereals Canada and I immediately arranged to sit down with the key organizations I would be working with. The Canadian International Grains Institute and the Canadian Grain Commission were my first stops.

Every person I met on those tours was passionate, intelligent and eager to share stories, insights, and most of all to advocate for Canadian agriculture (or in other words, agvocate).

For the first time in my life, I was surrounded by people who loved what they did. I have worked in the textiles industry and as a human resource manager and I have seen that genuine happiness at work is rare.

On my way back to the Cereals Canada office after one meeting, I had an epiphany: “Brenna, I think you have found where you belong.”

Since that day, I strive to grow and learn everything I can, as fast as I can. I have dubbed myself the agriculture sponge, seeking out any opportunity to ask questions, listen and, most of all, learn everything I can.

This is what I have learned so far:

Agriculture is an innovative industry that consistently aims for improvement, year after year.

There is a strong motivation to be sustainable and to better serve our customers, while remaining profitable.

These are important reasons to continually invest in better technologies and methods to achieve desired results throughout the value chain.

Collaboration is essential to the success of our industry and because I work for a national organization, I regularly see the level of collaboration and investment being made across the industry.

Examples include the new crop missions, in which technical experts, exporters, producers and industry leaders speak with foreign customers on behalf of Canadian wheat.

Producers are leaders in the ag industry as well. Working the trade show scene, I meet producers from many regions and they are always eager to understand what is happening in the industry.

Modern, science-based agricultural practices are the best foundation of good health for me and the environment.

When I buy bread or vegetables in the local grocery store, I know I am getting the best. I don’t need to feel shame that it isn’t organic or part of the latest diet trend. I am getting the highest quality of goods possible, being produced by invested farmers using the most technologically advanced tools to ensure their farms are profitable and sustainable for years to come.

Perhaps the most important thing that has made agriculture so attractive to me is that it is an industry that requires exponential growth of knowledge; there is always something new to learn and experience.

Learning about how our food is grown, my health, technology, science and the overall investment of each member of this industry has captivated my imagination and made me passionate about agriculture.

I cannot wait to see what I learn next.

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