Exposure is everything

“Exposure is everything,” Pastor Jessy once told me. He was referring to his Zambian small scale farmers that rarely travel out of their region; many can’t even read. Exposure wasn’t something I thought of much until then. We have so much access to media – to print, television, internet.

Even high tech cows still have cute baby calves. The Feenstra dogs keep watch over the 'igloos.' (Photo by Marianne Stamm)

Even high tech cows still have cute baby calves. The Feenstra dogs keep watch over the 'igloos.' (Photo by Marianne Stamm)

But the importance of exposure was brought home to me again last Thursday. I went on my first media tour, hosted by Alberta Milk, Alberta Beef Producers, and Beef Information Center. My invitation came as a member of the Alberta Farm Writers. I’ve been writing farm related articles for several papers for several years now, but I’ve never spent a day with my peers. My Barrhead writing club friends aren’t farm writers, and none are journalists.

It was so inspiring to be with like minded people! I seized the opportunity to ask questions I’ve wondered about – questions pertaining to writing style or to interviews.

I learned much about the farming industry too. We toured Bill and Angela Feenstra’s dairy farm east of Olds. Not just grain farmers are high tech businessmen! Feenstras use a webcam to keep an eye on their cows, which they can access from anywhere. Collars with monitors tell them exactly what each cow is up to.

Scott and Cole Harvie of Harvie Ranching, near Olds Alberta, talk about what it takes to maintain a superior breeding herd. (Photo by Marianne Stamm)

Scott and Cole Harvie of Harvie Ranching, near Olds Alberta, talk about what it takes to maintain a superior breeding herd. (Photo by Marianne Stamm)

Olds College fed us a wonderful roast beef dinner, then gave us a tour through their meat processing training center. They are leading Canada in the development of a national training program that will hopefully encourage many young people to take up this career.

At the Harvie Ranch southwest of Olds, against the backdrop of the Rocky Mountains, Will, Cole and Scott Harvie told us of their work producing the some of the best breeding stock of North America. Julie Harvie then presented the Cattlemen’s Young Leaders development program, pairing young farmers between the ages of 18 and 35 with a mentor in their particular field of interest.

Rosie Templeton is one of six young people chosen for the Cattlemen's Young Leader's development program. Behind her is Julie Harvie, the coordinator of the program. (Photo by Marianne Stamm)

Rosie Templeton is one of six young people chosen for the Cattlemen's Young Leader's development program. Behind her is Julie Harvie, the coordinator of the program. (Photo by Marianne Stamm)

I was just impressed with the passion these people bring to the farming profession. They are excited about the opportunities ahead. Meeting Rosie Templeton, one of the Cattlemen’s Young Leaders, made me believe there is a good future for our young people.

Not just the small scale farmers in Zambia need exposure. We all need to get out and see, not just read about, what is happening in other places and other sectors of the farming industry.

Now I’m really ready to go to the Canadian Farm Writers Convention in Moose Jaw this weekend!

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