If you had told me in high school or even 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. I am pleased to report I have never been happier or more proud to be where I am. Working in a communications role, I am constantly hearing about what has lead people into this diverse industry. Each story is unique and highlights the mosaic that is the Canadian agricultural industry; I am excited that I can now share my story.
One of the first things I did when I began my career at Cereals Canada is sit down with the organizations that I would be working with regularly. The Canadian International Grains Institute (CIGI) and the Canadian Grain Commission (CGC) were the first stops that I made. Every single person who I met on those tours were passionate, intelligent and eager to share their story, 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 that loved what they did. I have worked in the textiles industry and as a human resource manager; let me tell you now – genuine happiness in work is rare indeed. On my way back to the Cereals Canada office 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 I can to ask questions, listen and most of all learn everything I can.
So, this is what I have learned so far. Agriculture is a dynamic and innovative industry that consistently aims for improvement, year after year. There is a strong motivation to be sustainable and better serve our customers while remaining profitable – three very good 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. I am fortunate that I get to work for a national organization that represents the entire cereals value chain. On a daily basis, I get to see the level of collaboration and investment that is being made across the industry, such as the New Crop Missions where technical experts, exporters, producers and industry leaders speak with our foreign customers on behalf of Canadian wheat.
Producers are leaders in this industry. This isn’t just about government or industry partners; producers are individuals who are highly motivated to build sustainable and profitable farms that feed the world. Working the trade show scene, I get to meet and greet producers from a variety of regions, and each of them is eager to understand what is happening in the industry to benefit both their business and their foreign and domestic communities.
Modern science-based agricultural practices are the best foundation of good health, for both me and the environment. When I want to buy a loaf a bread or some vegetables in the local grocery store, I now know that what I am getting is the best of the best. I don’t need to feel shame that it isn’t organic or part of the latest diet trend; I am getting something of the highest quality that is being produced by invested farmers that leverage the most technologically advanced tools to ensure their farms are profitable and sustainable for years to come.
I think the biggest point of interest for me is that this is an industry that requires exponential growth of knowledge; there is always something new to learn and experience. As a comparatively younger member of this industry, how could I not be fascinated by a career that will keep feeding my hunger for change and variety? I see a bright future for myself in an increasingly uncertain world. 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.