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Ontario Helping Build Rural Community Leaders

In the heart of Ontario’s rural landscapes, a new wave of leadership is on the rise. All thanks to the Ontario government, which is investing up to $836,250 over three years to increase the capacity of rural volunteers and organizations across the province. The funding aims to strengthen the backbone of rural communities: its volunteers and organizations. Spearheaded by the Ontario Association of Agricultural Societies in partnership with the Rural Ontario Institute, the initiative seeks to equip community leaders with the skills and tools needed to thrive.

For Lisa Thompson, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, the initiative is about recognizing the invaluable contributions of Ontario’s agricultural societies. “This educational initiative will enhance the leadership, governance skills and best management practices in important rural organizations and by extension, our agriculture and food industry across the province,” Minister Thompson stated. “By investing in people who give so much to maintain our rural traditions and communities, we are showing our appreciation for their commitment and leadership.”

The investment will enable the Ontario Association of Agricultural Societies to join forces with the Rural Ontario Institute in providing educational resources tailored to the unique needs of over 200 agricultural societies statewide.

Vince Brennan, Executive Director of the Ontario Association of Agricultural Societies, sees this support as an investment in the future. “This support is an investment in the future of agricultural societies across Ontario by developing strong leaders and ensuring the vitality of the agri-food sector and rural communities,” Brennan remarked.

Agricultural societies, largely driven by volunteers, are the heart and soul of rural Ontario. They serve as beacons of community spirit, fostering connections and celebrating the traditions that define rural life. This investment not only acknowledges their crucial role but also ensures that their legacy continues to thrive.

Through nurturing leadership capacity and fostering engagement within the agriculture and food industry, Ontario is not just investing in communities; it’s investing in the preservation of cherished traditions and the promotion of economic prosperity.

Quick Facts:

  • The Ontario Association of Agricultural Societies has been serving communities for over 175 years.
  • Ontario’s agri-food industry is a cornerstone of the province’s economy, contributing over $48 billion to the provincial Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and employing one in ten Ontarians based on 2022 data.
  • Ontario’s Promoting Agriculture and Food Careers Initiative supports agricultural societies in promoting careers in the agriculture and food industry, ensuring a bright future for the sector.

For more information about OMAFRA programs and services, individuals can contact the Agricultural Information Contact Centre (AICC) via phone at 1-877-424-1300 or email at ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca.

Source: Government of Ontario