2021 President Report
Chad Anderson, Lambton County, St. Clair Region
Welcome delegates and members to OSCIA’s 2022 annual general meeting. The past year as your president has been extremely rewarding for me personally. It has been a pleasure working with fellow directors and Soil and Crop staff; the dedication and passion of everyone is infectious and inspiring. That said, I will admit it has been a workout dealing with association matters while the COVID-19 pandemic keeps its stranglehold on everyone. For me what was the most impressive was how we pivoted and excelled at all levels including the membership at the local level. Lessons learned over this challenging period will only make us stronger as what I believe is the most relevant farm organization in Ontario.
You will hear throughout the meeting some exciting updates, especially in regards to applied research. Program delivery never skipped a beat through the virus, showing the strengths and adaptability of staff to ensure Ontario farmers have prompt, and accessible cost-share funding to help move Ontario agriculture forward. Building upon the province’s soil strategy from the New Horizons report and work by the Soil Action Group, we continue to provide third party delivery services to some great soil health research. ONFARM and Living Lab has raised our association’s profile and proficiency and has helped bring the need to build soil resiliency into sharp focus. The enthusiasm we see for the new Mobile Soil Technology Suite and continued respect for tried-and-true programming such as EFP and the Farmland Health Check-Up, spell a bright future for us. The other wonderful part is all the collaboration in the background, from government partners OMAFRA and AAFC, farm groups like the OSN, IFAO, and EFAO, numerous conservation authorities and many others. The momentum in the countryside to work together on sensible sustainability is impressive.
For me, the experience as president has me reflecting on the association and the tremendous support we get from the people who choose to work for us; in particular I would like to highlight three individuals. Baylee Rubinoff was hired to fill-in for Brittany Roka this past year as the acting association development advisor. For those of us who know Brittany, it was like the ADA position was made for her and anyone coming in would have big shoes to fill. Well, Baylee came in and just took care of business, she did an exceptional job, and it was wonderful when she was able to come on full-time as IT Business Analyst. This speaks not only to the high-quality people the organization attracts; but also, to how staff want to stay and be a part of something great.
As you all know we will be increasing the provincial portion of the membership fee this coming year to help offset financial constraints facing OSCIA. Our chief financial officer Julie Henderson, saw this coming and has been coaching us with financial visioning now for a few years in preparation for this challenge. It was her foresight that led to our office relocation and helped us handle the stresses the organization faces. Thanks to her wisdom, we were in a much better place when tough decisions were needed to be made. And lastly, I would like to mention Andrew Graham our executive director. As president you kind of become the ED’s ear to the board and membership, you see the hurdles and crossroads his job faces. The passion and commitment Andy has given our organization for over 30 years is very remarkable and worthy of notice. His announcement of retirement in 2023 after a career spanning more than 40 years is another item adding to the executive workload. That said, we are hopeful we have the crystal ball our past leadership possessed to be able to find a replacement worthy of filling these extraordinary boots.
Thanks to everyone for allowing me the opportunity to be your president over the last year, it has been a very memorable experience.