If there ever was a poster boy for a city slicker, I may just fit the bill.
My jeans are probably tighter than most farmers and, for the majority of my life, I knew very little about agriculture, even though I consumed it daily.
That all changed when I was hired by The Western Producer nearly three years ago to work as a reporter based out of Edmonton.
I was the new kid, tasked with reporting on stories that affect you — our farmers and loyal readers. I learned quickly that I needed a good pair of boots.
And the learning didn’t end there.
One of my first trips was to the research plots in Lacombe, Alta., where I learned about canola diseases. It was then that I began to fully realize farming was serious business. A crop could be totally decimated by one disease, and that’s not even taking the weather, markets or politics into account.
A few months later, I left for the Peace region, where I first got a glimpse into the heart and soul of farming.
I remember having lunch with the Milkovichs of Rycroft, discussing their three-generation history. Nick, 94 at the time, explained how tough farming was in the 1920s.
On a separate trip, Lloyd and Donna Ross of Cleardale showed me everything that made a good cow. I later ate supper with them and their friends at a bonfire.
Then there was Farmfair. Guided by my colleagues, I learned there wasn’t only one cattle breed and that, again, ranching is serious business.
However, I also realized my urbanite status was an asset. I looked at agriculture with fresh eyes, truly making it my commitment to learn and listen.
I sometimes wonder whether it would be beneficial to have every city person become an agriculture reporter, even if it’s only for a month. I think we’d see a lot more appreciation for what you do.
I wish I could mention every single person I met, but all I can say is thank you. Thank you for opening your doors and sharing your stories.
Thank you to the fantastic team who puts this paper together every week. Their work is so important.
Leaving is bittersweet. I’m chasing a new opportunity, but I’ve learned so much. I will take this experience with me as I continue my career in journalism.