N.L. young farmers host another inspiring leadership summit


by Matthew Carlson
The Newfoundland and Labrador Young Farmers’ Forum (NLYFF) hosted its third annual leadership summit in St. John’s on Nov. 27 and 28. 
Social media pioneer Andrew Campbell headlined the event. He is a dairy farmer from southern Ontario who also specializes in helping farmers learn about social media and advocacy.
Campbell owns Fresh Air Media and has launched several online agriculture awareness projects. His first such project was #farm365, a social media campaign. Every day in 2015 he sent out a tweet and a photograph from his family’s dairy farm for that campaign. This year Campbell is visiting and portraying life on 52 Canadian farms in 52 weeks.  
Leading into the leadership summit, Andrew Campbell visited Pond View Dairy in the Goulds, just outside St. John’s, to interview young farmer Rebecca Williams as part of his “52 Weeks, 52 Farms” initiative. This interview was then shared on his social media platforms as part of his “Dinner Starts Here” series. To see the interview and much more visit Campbell on Twitter and Facebook under @FreshAirFarmer.
Other leadership summit speakers included Brenda Schoepp, a mentor, speaker, writer, and past farmer recognized for her communication abilities and global vision on food systems and food security, and Kim Gerencser, a farm business management consultant. 
A panel discussion by local young farmers was another popular part of the conference. Rebecca Williams also participated in the panel, as did fellow young dairy farmer Lucas Strong, and vegetable farmer and market operator Krista Chatman. Those in attendance could ask questions of the panelists and learn from each of their unique experiences. 
Conference delegates could also participate in NLYFF’s strategic planning. Delegates provided feedback and helped select a new vision, mission, and goals for the organization.
The new video “Become a Young Farmer” was also launched at the conference. It provides a snapshot of life on the farm and has been generating a lot of positive feedback. It can be viewed on the NLYFF Facebook page (@NLYoungFarmers) or on YouTube (web link: youtu.be/YMwhcN3edGA).
The event provided an excellent opportunity for young farmers, government representatives, guest presenters, and other agricultural stakeholders to network. About 40 delegates attended the event. 

(Matthew Carlson is the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Agriculture’s young farmers coordinator. He has been with the federation since 2007 and moved into his current position in 2015.)