Besides exploring Niagara Falls we also participated in a professional development program. The theme was Sustainability: Are farm journalists getting the real story? The need to produce more food and do it sustainably has become a major issue and is widely covered by both agricultural and mainstream media. Four guest speakers discussed the issue. Professor James Muir with the University of Stirling in Scotland presented the results of a report titled UK Government Foresight Programme on Global Food and Farming Futures, which was released earlier this year. Jill Clapperton, owner of Earthspirit Land Resource Consulting in Montana, addressed the soil health component of the sustainability challenge. Executive director of Farm Radio International Kevin Perkins provided a perspective on delivering information to African farmers who do not have access to farm media or extension resources. And Terry Daynard, a former professor of crop science at the University of Guelph, talked about a report he recently wrote on the effect of biofuels on world hunger. All of these presentations will be available on the IFAJ 2011 website in the coming weeks: http://www.ifaj2011.com/
As if all the professional development and education wasn’t enough, I was also able to meet many agricultural journalists and communicators from around the world. More than 260 delegates from approximately 30 countries were in attendance. I made new friends from Sweden, Norway, Finland, Ireland, Germany, Argentina, South Africa, Slovakia, Australia, New Zealand, China, Japan and the United States.
And yes, there’s more… I also met many of my Canadian social media friends. These are my colleagues in the ag industry who I’ve gotten to know through Twitter or blogging. I was finally able to put a face to the Twitter handle (a Twitter handle is your username, for example mine is @teresadfalk). In the future, I hope to meet many of my other social media friends.
Finally, I have some exciting news to share. The Canadian Farm Writers Federation (CFWF) held its annual awards ceremony on Saturday during the IFAJ Congress, and I won an award for our MRAC video: Pathfinding ag solutions. (I do communications for the Manitoba Rural Adaptation Council). To view the seven short video clips on MRAC’s YouTube channel click here: http://www.youtube.com/user/mbrural?feature=mhum
And don’t forget to read my next few blog posts on the IFAJ ag tour.