Just over 1,000 food producers and processors gathered in Red Deer on Thursday for the annual Farm Credit Canada forum to network, share stories and ideas, and hear inspiring guest speaker presentations.
The year’s FCC Forums, which are held across the country, feature Canadian Paralympian and spinal cord injury research advocate Rick Hansen; Greg Johnson, a professional storm chaser; and Michelle Painchaud, a management expert who works with farmers and agriculture businesses nationwide.
“Producers have vast opportunity to talk about management and production but this is something from a different perspective.
“Many of our speakers have had personal challenges they have overcome and it’s really all about inspiration and motivation and those things people can take home to not only their operations but also to their families, just to help keep moving things forward,” said Clem Samson, FCC vice-president of Western Operations.
“Sometimes, like in any industry, we get caught up on the things that aren’t going right, and I think this helps us look at the glass as half full.”
Keynote speaker Hansen, who was paralyzed from the waist down when he was thrown from the back of a pickup truck at age 15, talked about his Man In Motion World Tour and how anything is possible with a little perseverance.
Hansen circled the world in his wheelchair, travelling through 34 countries on four continents over the course of two years, two months and two days.
“It’s not what happens to you, it’s what you do with it that counts,” he said.
“That’s the Canadian agricultural spirit, to never surrender. … I believe a person with a spinal cord injury will one day travel to space.
“I believe in a world where a wheelchair will one day be in a museum.”
Another highlight of the forum was the gripping video footage presented by Johnson, a severe weather expert and tornado hunter.
The clip followed the massive and ruthless twister (the widest one recorded in history at 4.2 km wide) that touched down in El Reno, Okla., in May, killing three professional storm chasers in its path.
Johnson was there, too, just under a kilometre away from the wind funnel, and said he doesn’t wish to go through something so terrifying again.
He told the crowd of his passion for telling the stories of those impacted by the disasters and his mission to help others pounce on their passions and live out legacies.
“Sharing those stories and understanding them is what I love the most. . . . And I think if you’re in farming, you’re in it because you love it, you love being on the land and you’re proud of it,” he said. “Live without regret. Don’t stop taking risks; that’s your legacy.”
Painchaud, who defines herself as a Manitoba farm girl, is a leader in behavioural science and talent management and she spoke about the power in motivating employees and nourishing a positive business culture.
The forum is next headed to Regina in January and will be back in Alberta on March 11 for a session in Lethbridge.