As we approach the AGM on February 20, 2018, the need for excited, enthusiastic, young Board members will be forefront. Foresight and leadership skills are a bonus, but what we really need are people to care about supporting our agricultural community through a decision-making process. We have space for four individuals – one would be a one-year term (a great way to get to know our business) and three spots are three-year terms (long enough to become an effective contributor for even the most reserved individual).
Two years ago, the Board of Directors for SARDA formalized their Vision and Mission statements and struck a Strategic Planning Committee to move the organization forward. Utilizing the knowledge gained during 30 years of operation the committee was tasked with creating an Agricultural Resource Centre of Excellence.
An excited, enthusiastic group developed a “needs list’‘ and a ”wants list” and then had to figure out how to make it all happen.
The needs list was short; a Board who was willing to look forward and take a few risks, a building to protect our equipment, a facility to replace a shop that had reached its functional limits and integrity and sufficient office space to accommodate the staff needed to carry out the programs/research to support our local producers and assist other agricultural entities whenever possible through collaboration.
The wants list was too long to be included as part of this article. Funding was the limiting factor for immediate execution of the complete list, so priorities were set.
First priority – The storage shed to protect our equipment. By utilizing a lot already owned by $ARDA, withdrawing some funding from reserves and the income from the Tradeshow, our shed became a reality in 2017. Environmental degradation of our equipment has been averted. Additionally, vandalism and theft issues have hopefully been put behind us. An unforeseen benefit was the increased efficiency of the staff during harvest.
Second priority – Affectionately known as Phase II or the shop, the committee’s attention turned to the second building while the first was being built. Again, there was a “needs list” and a “wants list” and eventually an architectural tech was hired to design a facility that had everything on the “wants list” and provide a ball park cost estimate. As typically happens some of the wants were dropped and we went back to the drawing board. Realistically this building is two to five years away from construction unless we win Lotto 6/49. When complete, the shop will be practical, effective, and technologically modern with sufficient space to process plot samples, house office space for the staff and provide a reception area appropriate for guests from two to 92 years of age. There is no age limit for people who can benefit from information about the production of food.
Members of the Strategic Planning Committee and our Manager have been very active in trying to recruit additional funding for the Association since mid-summer. We would be foolish to “count our chickens before they hatch” but one lead is looking promising and we will continue to pursue any opportunity that arises.
SARDA will host an AGM and Extension Event on February 20th at the Centre Chevaliers in Falher. In addition to the business portion of the event, we will hear about the new Soil Information Viewer, the Northern Alberta Industrial Hemp Initiative, SARDA’s regional variety trials and the Alberta Agriculture and Forestry support for local research associations. The event is free, and lunch will be included. Pre-registration is requested for catering purposes. Reward yourself with knowledge and share that knowledge with your neighbours. Plan on becoming a Director.
Register by calling (780) 837-2900 or by visiting www.sarda.ca/events and following the links. See you February 20, 8:30 a.m., at the Centre Chevaliers.