Your Farm Voice: Ron Krahn – The Importance of Leadership in Manitoba
Together they grow wheat, canola, peas, sunflowers, soybeans and dabble in corn production. Ron was elected onto the MCGA board of directors in February 2016. He is the chair of the research committee and also sits on the grower engagement and extension committee.
One of Ron’s proudest achievements is his involvement on the local Canadian FoodGrains Bank growing project organizing team. Their project is going into its 22nd year and is getting close to having raised $750,000 for global food aid from his community. Working with his neighbours and local agricultural businesses for a common goal has been a rewarding experience for Ron and his family.
Ron has a B.Sc of Biosystems Engineering from University of Manitoba. When not farming, Ron enjoys spending time with family and friends. His hobbies include spending time at the lake, snowmobiling, or reading a good book.
Q&A with Ron
Q: What inspires you?
A: Two things come to mind. Firstly, the constant desire to do anything I do to the best of my ability keeps me motivated. I’m not satisfied doing something at 75 percent, so that drives me to work hard all the time. I’m still learning to stop and smell the roses. Secondly, my Christian faith makes me realize life isn’t just about what we can accumulate. There is a greater purpose than just working or growing food. So it makes me think about the difference between success and significance. Kristjan Hebert talked about this in a presentation he gave once. Success is measured in dollars, and significance is measured in quality of life. So I am trying to focus on being significant, not on successful. Having quality relationships is part of being significant.
Q: How do you celebrate agriculture?
A: I take any chance I can to promote agriculture and educate consumers through media or social media. I encourage my family to participate in our farm’s work and activities, and enjoy every day I get to work at the farm.
Learn to Lead: The importance of leadership in Manitoba
Manitoba has a diverse and extensive agriculture industry that contributes billions of dollars to our economy. Keeping this industry profitable, sustainable and interactive with the public is crucial to our successful farm business owners. Manitoba Canola Growers Association recognizes the importance of having leadership throughout the province to keep this valuable industry vibrant and healthy. The business of agriculture has grown and will continue to grow, and it needs farmers voices. This need is what sparked the beginning of the Learn to Lead Conference (formerly Leadership Conference) five years ago.
In late February, MCGA invited a group of 18 Manitoba canola farmers to Brandon for the fifth Learn to Lead Conference. The two-day hands-on conference was a chance for attendees to learn from previous Conference alumni, participate in workshops on leadership and branding, discuss current and future challenges that face farmers and network with speakers and guests.
Learn to Lead 2019 guest speakers included:
- Futurist and Strategic Coach Bob Treadway;
- Etiquette Expert Jodie Beach;
- Canadian International Grains Institute CEO JoAnne Buth;
- Deputy Minister Manitoba Agriculture Dori Gingera-Beauchemin;
- Canola Eat Well Director Ellen Pruden;
- Canola Eat Well Manager Jennifer Dyck;
- Food Blogger Amanda Bibeau;
- Dietitian and food and nutrition Communicator Erin MacGregor and,
- Associate Head of Biological Sciences, University of Manitoba, Mark Belmonte.
The Learn to Lead Conference challenged attendees to think about the agriculture industry and different ways they can get involved and change the conversation.
“A lot of strategic planning goes into pulling together the Learn to Lead Conference,” says Roberta Galbraith, Member Relations Manager, MCGA. “We want attendees to be challenged. We want them to be curious, ask lots of questions and recognize how they can become leaders in their businesses. We want them to walk away from the conference feeling energized and empowered. We hope that the Learn to Lead conference provided them with connections they can use in the future.”
MCGA director Ron Krahn (also a Learn to Lead alumni) was a panelist along with three other farmer alumni at one of the sessions of the Conference. The four alumni shared their own experiences about how being a farm leader had a return on investment for themselves and their farms.
“A common theme I pulled from the panel was the significance of connecting with people,” says Krahn. “Having a personal connection with people and being able to call on them to utilize their strengths and expertise is so important. For example, in being a director at MCGA I’ve met John Guelly, Alberta Canola research chair at events and meetings in the past. Now that I am the research chair for MCGA, I’m able to reach out to John to gain insight from his experiences in Alberta. Connections like these have made a positive impact on our farm and business.”
Krahn thought the panel provided positive role models for the attendees. “There were four young farmers who each shared realistic but relatable experiences. I hope that interests attendees in also becoming farm leaders,” adds Krahn.
Following the panel, Bob Treadway talked about what the future might hold for agriculture and how that affects our realities today, which led into the introduction of the backcasting tool.
“Hearing Bob Treadway talk about the backcasting model is an interesting problem solving technique,” says Krahn. “I think there is value to the people that do it, and as MCGA leaders it gives us training to know how to deal with an issue or problem, or set the direction for the board.”
In one of the breakout session attendees learned how to pitch ideas quickly without much time to prepare. “I think it’s important young farmers get training like this. Opportunities to speak to influencers (government/policy makers) come up and you don’t have much time to prepare before speaking to them. You might only have 30 seconds to get your point across so it’s great to have this sort of training,” adds Krahn.
In other breakout sessions attendees talked about:
- Branding with a food blogger, a farmer and the Canola Eat Well team;
- Innovation and the future of agriculture with MCGA and researchers from the University of Manitoba;
- Farm to food questions and answers with a farmer and a food and nutrition communicator; and
- Leveraging the Canadian brand with a farmer and CEP from CIGI.
“Farmers don’t often get the opportunity to hear researchers or even food bloggers or communicators talk, so hearing their story was enlightening,” adds Krahn.
After participating in the Learn to Lead Conference for a second time as an MCGA director, Krahn sees it as valuable leadership training for (hopefully) future board members.