By Stephanie Vickers
It’s officially been a year since I made my way from university to the working world. While my school career may be over, however, one thing is certain – my first “adult” job has showed me there’s still plenty to learn.
My first job out of school was (and still is) with Farm & Food Care Ontario as a Communications Coordinator. In this position, I help run social media, coordinate and work at events like Breakfast on the Farm, and speak to the public about agriculture. All these tasks involve connecting people with the food they eat and the people who produce it, and hopefully, help clear up a lot of misconceptions about farming.
It’s a role I never thought I would be in, though.
As someone who grew up on a dairy farm, my love and passion for agriculture started young. Needless to say, it was no surprise to anyone when I decided to attend the University of Guelph for Agriculture Science. Growing up on a farm near a small town, I never fully understood why – and to what extent – people were so unsure about farming. I saw the care, time and effort that my dad put in everyday to make sure our cows were treated well, and wondered how people couldn’t see it too. In short, I had little idea why someone would doubt farmers and their intentions.
I’ve learned that speaking with Canadians is so much more complicated than the young farm girl could ever have imagined. As an industry, agriculture has been on the defense for a long time, and I sometimes feel this has affected the way we speak to those with genuine questions. People are just curious about the way their food is grown and my job has really showed how important it is to have these conversations.
My experiences so far have opened my eyes to why people doubt agriculture – and why they might love it too – and I hope that my efforts have helped foster more enthusiasm for the food we eat. The vast majority of people are not out to get farmers, after all, and my conversations with them have been a great part of my first job.
Besides, if we don’t answer their questions, who will?