You never really know where life is going to take you.
About 20 years ago, I was working at a potato-processing plant in Carberry, making french fries for the U.S. market, where I’d been employed since 1993, and decided it was time to go back to school. I applied to the communications program at Red River College, and moved to Winnipeg to study late in the summer of 1997.
Upon arriving, one of the first orders of business was to cast around for a way to earn a living while studying. I quickly found out that there was a robust market for agriculture writing. At the time, to be perfectly honest, it wasn’t my first love.
True, I’d grown up on a farm in rural Saskatchewan — an operation my brother still runs today — and I did know at least some of the rudimentary facts of the business. But by that time, it had been a solid decade since I had left the farm, and I was well acclimatized to life in the city.
My very first article as a farm writer was actually filed to the pages of the Manitoba Co-operator, in August 1997. It outlined an interesting project that MAFRI’s Soils and Crops Branch had undertaken near Carman, siting small solar-powered weather stations in farm fields around that town. They were just beginning to explore the tantalizing possibilities that fine-grain level of data opened up to them — things that are commonplace now, like crop disease risk maps.
I have a very clear memory at the time of thinking this ‘business is way more interesting than I ever realized running a tractor for Dad.’ Little did I realize that was the start of something that would absorb much of the next two decades of my life. My association with the Co-operator lasted through my college years and culminated with a job as Brandon bureau reporter after graduation. After a couple of years, I moved back to Winnipeg where I worked from the main office.
Since then, I have held positions in government, corporate communications, marketing and journalism, all with a distinct agriculture flavour. I suppose in the end it proved true… you can take the boy out of the country, but taking the country out of the boy proves to be a lot tougher. I’m very glad that has been the case.
Working in this role has allowed me to maintain a connection to my roots that would have otherwise been far more difficult. It might seem like a small thing, but I take great satisfaction in being able to talk to my father and brother about what they do and still have some real understanding of it.
Most recently, I’ve spent nearly nine years at our sister publication Country Guide, writing feature articles about the technology, science and business of agriculture. Today, I’m returning to my professional roots in a very meaningful way, joining the staff of the Co-operator as associate editor.
This is both exciting and slightly nerve-racking. First, I recognize the folks who came before me have set a high standard. This publication plays an important role in the life of the agriculture community in this province.
Mainly, it’s just exciting. It feels like a return to my professional roots and I look forward to reacquainting myself to the unique agriculture community of Manitoba.