In October 2017, I drove to Guelph to attend my first seminar as a participant in Class #17 of the Advanced Agricultural Leadership Program. This program, run by the Rural Ontario Institute, is a 19-month executive leadership development experience for people who want to shape the future of agriculture and food industry and make a positive difference in rural communities across Ontario. The curriculum includes a series of eight seminars across the province, a North American Study Tour, and an International Study Tour. Study topics include government and political systems, marketing and economics, environmental impact, national and international trade, communication and organization skills, decision making, consumer and social issues, media relations, agri-food trends and society and globalization and the dynamics of change. Continue reading Advanced Agriculture Leadership Program: An Opportunity Like No Other
The Communicating Agriculture to Municipal Council – Community of Practice webinar held on December 6th highlighted ways to educate the public and elected officials about the important role agriculture plays in robust economies.
One way to inform people about the importance of agriculture is to offer a farm and food tour in the community. Typically these tours provide an opportunity for participants get to know what issues the local agriculture sector is facing. They also provide hands-on experience for those who are visiting a farm for the first time.
Keep reading for more tips from the Region of Halton and the County of Middlesex on ensuring your farm and food tour is a success: Continue reading Tips to Ensure your Farm and Food Tour is Successful
The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) is pleased to offer a third session in its Online Downtown Revitalization Community of Practice series, to be held on January 17th 2019, from 10:30-12:00. This session will focus on the province-wide expansion of the Digital Main Street program. Continue reading Downtown Revitalization Community of Practice, online January 2019
According to Statistics Canada, Canadian businesses are becoming much more innovative and as a result are increasing competitiveness, economic growth and social wellbeing. However they say, there must be sufficient data available to advocate for the creation of policies that support innovation. Sufficient data is gathered by the Survey of Innovation and Business Strategy (SIBS) which is the primary source for innovation data in Canada. The measurement of innovation is the performance of the business enterprise sector, looking at strategic decisions, innovation, activities and operational tactics. Continue reading Statistics Canada Releases the Results from the Survey of Innovation and Business Strategy
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas and with that comes Christmas Carols, seasonal celebrations and gift giving! Make shopping easier on yourself and support your community and the environment by shopping locally. No long drives to crowded shopping malls if you simply shop in your own home town, with people who serve you all year round and who can help make brilliant suggestions for everyone on your list. Continue reading Buy Local – Holiday Shopping
Annual General Meetings (AGM) are meetings that are held annually for the members or ‘owners’ of an organization. The meeting allows the board of directors to demonstrate how they have governed the organization over the past year and an opportunity for members and directors to talk with each other.
All AGMs should cover the following topics:
- Present the activities of the board for the previous year
- Present the audited financial statements
- Run elections for the board of directors
- Appoint the financial reviewer for the next fiscal year
There are three key steps to a successful AGM
- Planning & preparation
- Successful execution of the AGM
Notice of Annual Meeting
Make sure you give plenty of advanced notice of the Annual General Meeting. The notice should include a draft agenda and other supplementary information that may be needed during the meeting. Notices can be sent by traditional mail or sent by email. Be sure you have permission from the member before sending email notifications.
Other ways to promote your AGM to a broader audience include:
- Social media – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc
- Unpaid media
- Other organizations
- Special invitations to sponsors, vendors, exhibitors, community groups, local dignitaries
The annual report gives members, volunteers and sponsors reasons to support your organization based on important facts, changes that have been made, or new policies. The report includes:
- Achievements and challenges
- Vision and mission
- Audited financial statement
- Board of Directors and staff list and contact information
- Performance measurements
Make your annual report interesting and have hard copies available as well as a digital version on your website.
Examples of Annual reports
- Canadian National Exhibition: https://com/assets/pdf/documents/Annual%20Report/2017_CNE_annual_report_online_final.pdf
- Norfolk Agricultural Society https://norfolkcountyfair.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Annual-Report-2017-2018-FINALa.pdf
- Canadian Association of Fairs & Exhibitions https://www.canadian-fairs.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/Annual-Report-2016-17.pdf
Audited Financial Statement
An audited financial statement is a review of the organization’s financial statements such as income statement, cash flow statement or balance sheet, that have been audited.
- Balance Sheet: Assets and Liabilities of the organization (including land and buildings)
- Income Statement: Profit/Loss for the current fiscal year
- Cash Flow Statement: shows how changes in balance sheet accounts and income affect cash and cash equivalents
Be prepared for potential questions that may be asked during your AGM by having a discussion with your board of directors: Are there any issues that the membership will want to know about? Are there any significant changes in the financial position of the organization? Have there been new or updated policies or procedures?
Have the information you need at hand and have trained staff in place to answer the questions. Make sure everyone on the board knows the answers to financial questions; the Treasurer is not the only one accountable for the finances. Furthermore, be honest and transparent when addressing major issues and explain the actions the board will take to remedy the situation.
Prepare a very detailed agenda for your AGM. Consider the length of the meeting, anticipated discussion time, motions to be made etc to minimize potential omissions and errors.
Sample AGM Agenda
- Call to order
- Establish quorum
- Approval of minutes of previous AGM
- President’s Report or Report of Board Activities
- Financial Statements: Treasurer’s report, Auditor’s report
- Executive Director or General Manager report
- Election of directors
- Resolutions/Motions requiring approval by the membership (constitution or by-laws)
- Optional – Guest Speaker
- Meeting Adjournment
Determine the meeting logistics in advance: setting the date, time and location. Also, look for sponsorships for speakers, refreshments and door prizes. Know who is chairing the meeting in advance; note that the president does not have to chair the meeting. Create a member sign in to help confirm quorum, also have a member package that includes minutes, ballots, annual report etc. Have someone assigned to be the parliamentarian for the meeting, to answer question on the constitution or procedures of the meeting.
AGM’s are a great opportunity to engage members. Create name tags for everyone attending and set up the room with round or rectangular tables, and have the chairs face each other to encourage friendly conversation. Include refreshments as well as having a break for networking.
Have your nomination process planned out in your constitution or by laws, whether you allow nominations on the floor or in advance. Include written policies/procedures, term for directors and an application process.
Always prepare in advance for an election, have the written policy/procedures ready and have the ballots prepared. Create an opportunity for nominees to address their membership either written or verbally. There are two different ways to give nominees an opportunity to address membership.
- If you have a nomination form, use this information as the bio for each nominee.
- If there are nominations on the floor, have each nominee speak for a few minutes.
An AGM is about motivation and celebration; remember to give recognition to volunteers, sponsors, leadership and youth. Also, celebrate the achievements and milestones and conclude with a meaningful motivational speaker.
After the AGM remember to evaluate the event with a short write up. Send out a survey to your members or have them complete one before they leave to give you some feedback for your next AGM.
It is a very familiar sentiment to those of us working in rural economic development. There are too many unfilled positions crippling growth in many sectors of the rural economy. We need more people.
Workforce development can take many approaches but the one most discussed at the 2018 Rural Talks to Rural conference held this October 2018 in Blyth, Ontario was preparing youth to survive and thrive in an age of disruption.
Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) released a report on the Canadian workforce in 2018 called Humans Wanted – How Canadian Youth Can Thrive in the Age of Disruption. John Stackhouse, VP of RBC, shared some of the findings of that report with conference delegates. The report has some sobering messages.
“Canada is facing a quiet crisis. Continue reading Humans Wanted
The 2018 LMI survey is here! The Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC) is surveying farm business owners and workers on the state of agricultural labour in Canada. We ask all owner-operators, workers and supporting stakeholder groups to take part to guide future action on the growing workforce crisis. Continue reading Agriculture Labour Market Survey: Available until November 30
Continuing with our series of blogs on the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs’ Business Retention & Expansion (BR+E) Program, this blog will outline the and discuss stages 3 & 4 of the BR+E process.
The four stages of the BR+E process are:
- Collect and Analyze
- Develop Goals and Action Plans
- Implement and Monitor
Check out our previous posts, 6 Reasons Why Your Community Should Undertake a BR+E to understand the advantages of a BR+E project and learn about stages 1 & 2 by reading Discover the Advantage of Thorough Preparation and Data Collection for a Successful BR+E Continue reading Put Your Data to Work: BR+E Stages 3 & 4
The strength and vitality of rural communities is contingent on our ability to attract young leaders: they are entrepreneurs, employees, neighbours, volunteers and patrons of local businesses.
Making headlines in Ontario Farmer: “Labour shortage worsening in Perth, Huron, Grey and Bruce”. Labour force availability in rural communities is being cited as a problem by employers and economic developers across the province. It’s a challenge across all sectors, from manufacturing to agriculture to tourism to healthcare. Continue reading The Importance of Youth Engagement to Rural Ontario