MFWBA member wins IFAJ-Alltech Young Leaders in Ag Journalism Award
By Julie Neal
Ashley Robinson has been selected to attend the upcoming IFAJ Dutch Roots Congress through the Young Leaders program. She grew up on a mixed cattle and grain farm just outside of Tilston in southwestern Manitoba. “Growing up in a small town, I couldn’t wait to get out and experience the world,” she said. She could never have guessed that only a few years after leaving that town, she would develop a passion for rural Canada, it’s farms, and, of course, it’s people.
The IFAJ-Alltech Young Leaders in Agricultural Journalism Award recognizes the leadership potential of young members from countries belonging to IFAJ, and supports their participation at an IFAJ congress which includes a two-day boot camp prior to the event. This year’s Boot Camp and Congress takes place from July 7-14th at Wageningen University & Research in the Netherlands.
“When I was a kid I really loved reading. I loved history as well. I wanted to be a novelist for awhile, but I realized at an early age that it’s hard to make a paycheck that way,” she said laughing. When she realized that being a journalist could combine all the aspects of writing and recording history that she loved, she knew exactly what her career would be. She was about 8 at the time, and hasn’t looked back for a second.
“In high school, I started working at my local community newspaper, and I loved it,” she said. “It definitely gave me a head start in the industry.” On her first day of orientation in journalism school, they mentioned an internship with the Western Producer. By that time she had been living in Regina for two years and found herself missing certain aspects of her small hometown. She had not realized what a big part of her life agriculture was, or how much she knew about it, until she wasn’t around it anymore. “I grew up reading the Western Producer,” she explained “To my dad, a prairie farmer, it was his bible! He read it every week,” she continued. “From that moment on, I wanted to be an agricultural journalist.” She set her sights on the internship, which got her foot in the door of the world.
After university, she got a job at the Regina Leader Post. Although she was working for a daily newspaper, she convinced them to let her cover the Canada Farm Progress Show. Upon arrival she felt a bit left out, not being an official agricultural journalist. Luckily, the Western Producer ag reporters that she had worked with as an intern invited her to the Saskatchewan farm writers supper, which she gladly attended. They were extremely welcoming, and after attending a few suppers with them, she decided to become a member.
Through networking with these ag journalists, she found out about a job opportunity in ag media. Although she enjoyed working in daily news, she really wanted to become an ag journalist. It was also CFWF members who encouraged her to apply for the IFAJ Young Leaders program.
“I want to travel. One of the reasons that I wanted to get into agriculture journalism was the global aspect,” she said. She found out in March that she had been accepted to go to the IFAJ Congress. “It still feels surreal!” she exclaimed excitedly. She’s can’t wait to get to spend time in rural areas and experience Dutch agriculture. “It seems like they’ve made some amazing advancements!” she said. She’s been researching the country’s ag sector, looking forward to learning more about it firsthand during the Congress.
(originally published in CFWF’s The Farm Journalist)
MFWBA members excel at national ag journalism awards
Manitoba farm writers and communicators represented their province well at the recent Canadian Farm Writers’ Federation (CFWF) awards banquet, collecting 13 awards across a variety of categories. The event was held on September 30, 2017, in conjunction with CFWF’s annual conference.
Winners from the Manitoba Farm Writers and Broadcasters Association included:
Electronic Media – Audio The Tom Leach Award
Gold: Kelvin Heppner, Real Agriculture, Somali Refugees Walking Across Manitoba
Bronze: Shannon VanRaes, Manitoba Co-operator, The Trouble with Singing Chickens
News Release The Alice Switzer Award
Gold: Karli Reimer, Ducks Unlimited Canada, Hey Canada: It’s Time to Soil Your Undies in the Name of Conservation
Bronze: Heather Johnson, Waterburtons Launched Major Pulse Research Initiative with Cigi to Produce Healthier Baked Products
General Periodical The Felix Schmaltz Award
Silver: Jay Whetter, Canola Digest, Canola Digest
Press ColumnThe Frank Jacobs Award
Bronze: Toban Dyck, National Post, The Dark Side of Farming
Press Editorial The O.R. Evans Award
Silver: Allan Dawson, Manitoba Co-operator, Canada Needs Churchill but do Grain Farmers?
Press Feature The Dick Beamish Award
Silver: Shannon VanRaes, Country Guide, Halal Market
Monthly Press Reporting The Jack Cram Award
Gold: Jay Whetter, Canola Digest, A Giant Leap for Soil Kind
Weekly Press Reporting The Q.H. Martinson Award
Bronze: Shannon VanRaes, Manitoba Co-operator, Get Your Goat on
Daily Press Reporting The C.B. Fairbairn Award
Bronze: Rod Nickel & Yuka Obayashi, Reuters, Pampered Canadian Pigs Feed Japan’s Hunger for Pricey Pork
World Wide Website The Henry Heald Award
Gold: Tracey Shelton, www.richardsonresults.ca
Bronze: Matthew Dyck, www.thankaretailer.ca
Winners were chosen by 25 judges from across Canada, the United States, the U.K. and Australia. These judges included journalists, photographers, professors, farmers and communicators from different media and publications, and a mix of agricultural and non-agricultural backgrounds.
Complete list of winners and entries available here.
John Morriss honoured as MFWBA’s newest life member
John Morriss is recognized for his dedication to agricultural journalism in Manitoba.
John is known in our province as the senior statesman of Manitoba agricultural journalism, especially for his even-handed and intelligent commentary.
The MFWBA and the CFWF are indeed indebted to John for many long years of service. We are pleased to honour John with the MFWBA Life Membership.