St. Clair Region – Krista Gladstone
The St. Clair Region Soil and Crop Improvement Association covers the southernmost part of Ontario and is comprised of Chatham-Kent, Essex and Lambton Counties which currently has a combined membership of approximately 300 people.
The Regional Communications Coordinator (RCC) for the St. Clair Region is Krista Gladstone, Program Coordinator with the Business Development Centre at the University of Guelph, Ridgetown Campus located in Ridgetown, Ontario.
During 2021, some of the regional communication activities/ accomplishments included the following:
- Timely publishing and distribution of four quality newsletters as part of OSCIA’s ‘The Innovator – News from the Grassroots’. This e-newsletter format includes an area for local/regional content on the St. Clair Landing Page, which was updated throughout the year;
- Annual promotion of newsletter sponsorship to help offset some of the rising costs associated with publishing and creating the quarterly newsletters;
- Distribution of extra newsletters to agribusinesses and other interested parties to promote our grassroots soil and crop organization;
- Providing Secretary-Treasurer duties to the St. Clair Region Executive Board and assisting the three local associations as required;
- Organizing, promoting, setting up and hosting Zoom meetings for St. Clair Region and its three local associations;
- Sending out various mailers and e-blasts to notify groups of upcoming events and also assisted in the membership renewal process and organization/promotion/planning of Local Events/Tours/AGMs/etc.;
- During the pandemic, virtually attended Provincial and Regional Annual Meetings and RCC training sessions;
- Played an integral role in the organization of key regional events that partner with OSCIA including the Ontario Agricultural Conference (OAgC) which was held virtually in January 2022 which had approximately 1,400 people registered;
- Participation in regular RCC correspondence, conference calls, training sessions, and meetings to support OSCIA goals and activities;
- Assisting and preparing OSCIA grant submissions, claims, invoicing and paperwork for St. Clair Region including Regional Communication Grants, Tier One Grants, and Tier Two Grants;
- Supporting the St. Clair Region Twitter account;
- Assisting with the planning, promotion, and organization of the region’s August 2021 Self-Guided Summer Twilight Tour which included twelve different stops throughout the St. Clair Region;
- Attending KSCIA’s in-person AGM meeting and assisted with promotion, registration, etc. in December 2021;
- Supporting the regions’ local membership mailing lists using OSCIA’s new membership platform; also used this program for electronic distribution of newsletters and to notify members in a timely fashion of upcoming events, including local conservation authority events, etc.;
- For the seventh year in a row, St. Clair Region was pleased to continue its partnership with our local Conservation Authorities (Essex Region Conservation Authority, Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority and St. Clair Conservation Authority) to publish a regular ‘Crops & Conservation’ article in our quarterly newsletters. This provides an excellent opportunity for the exchange of information and sharing of ideas between the two organizations.
It has been a pleasure working with the St. Clair Region Soil and Crop Improvement Association in 2021. As we continue to work virtually through the pandemic, I feel that we were able to meet our organization’s business goals and keep our members informed of local, regional and provincial soil and crop activities.
I look forward to working with the St. Clair Region Directors and the other RCC’s in 2022 as we work towards another successful year with OSCIA!
Regional Communications Coordinator,
St. Clair Region Soil & Crop Improvement Association (Chatham-Kent, Essex, Lambton)
519-674-1500, ext. 63597
Thames Valley Region – Cathy Dibble
2021 proved to be another challenging year when it came to hosting in-person events across the region, but we did manage a few. Oxford, Middlesex and Elgin counties continued to engage members virtually, holding our annual meetings in a joint format with a great speaker lineup, prizes for participating, and breakout rooms to run our local association business matters.
Elgin directors made use of the Mobile Soil Technology Suite trailer with the LED screen, and portable scales to hold weigh clinics for various pieces of farm equipment.
Middlesex held their summer twilight meeting with great turnout, also using the LED screen to enable members to maintain social distancing in an outdoor setting, but still able to see and hear presentations easily.
Oxford was able to hold their usual fall information meeting at the site of Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show including great speakers after an excellent Norpac Beef dinner provided by sponsors of the event.
Members from across the region participated in various field research trials, both county and regionally based, and with OMAFRA Field Crop Staff projects. Regional updates were published throughout the year, including information about local activities, field trial results and updated rainfall and heat unit data from each county, distributed alongside the OSCIA Innovator newsletter both in electronic and paper formats as needed. Working towards improved member engagement in new and successful methods is a challenge we strive to meet.
The regional website continues to be a popular source of information for coming local events, rain and heat unit data, local project reports, plot data and tour photos. One director representing each county association and one from the regional board sit on the Southwest Ag Conference steering committee, meeting several times over the past year to plan the 2022 Ontario Agricultural Conference virtual event in conjunction with the Eastern Crops Conference and the Golden Horseshoe/Heartland Region events.
Our regional Tier 2 project #RootsNotIron has been granted OSCIA funding for two more years, and so far we have seen some positive results moving into our 8th year of the project. Look for these reports as they become available, on our regional website and OSCIA’s Crop Advances.
Thames Valley SCIA Regional Communications Coordinator
(Elgin, Middlesex and Oxford Counties)
@TVRSCIA on Twitter
Heartland Region – Mary Feldskov
In 2021, the counties that make up Heartland Soil and Crop Improvement Association–Huron, Perth, Waterloo, and Wellington–continued to offer programs and activities for members despite the ongoing pandemic and restrictions. Thank you to the volunteers and boards of directors for their ongoing commitment to the organization and for being flexible and adaptable in the face of uncertainty and rapid change.
Early in 2021, the Heartland board of directors met and re-elected John Poel as provincial director, Kaye McLagan as chair and Jeff Strenzke as vice-chair.
Huron County SCIA held a virtual AGM in January, which allowed them to host guest speaker Andrew McGuire from Washington State University. In February, they hosted a very well-attended webinar featuring local farmer Lawrence Hogan.
At their Huronview demonstration farm in Clinton, Huron SCIA has continued to work with a number of partners including the Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority and the County of Huron on research projects such as innovative drainage, water quality, and soil health. You can find out more about the work being done at the Huronview site at www.huronview.net.
Perth County SCIA hosted their AGM in January, featuring guest speaker Senator Robert Black. Senator Black’s presentation focused on how the Senate operates, and his role as member of senate committees including the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Forestry. He also spoke about the need for an updated study on soil health in Canada; the last study, Soil at Risk: Canada’s Eroding Future was conducted in 1984, and much has changed in the 3 decades since. In the summer, Perth SCIA hosted their annual twilight tour at their demonstration farm in Brodhagen, Ontario.
Waterloo SCIA also welcomed Senator Black as a guest speaker to their AGM in January. While Covid-19 restrictions prevented any in-person gatherings in 2021, the group continued to promote agriculture throughout Waterloo Region by erecting educational signage about crops such as corn, wheat, soybean, apples and alfalfa. Plans were made to also include signs that explained how the Region’s farmers used cover crops to improve soil health, reduce erosion and protect water quality.
Wellington SCIA generally hosts their AGM in December each year, and they were fortunate enough to host an in-person event in December 2021 before the most recent round of pandemic-related restrictions came into effect. They also were pleased to support an ONFARM event in the summer of 2021 at 3Gen Organics near Drayton, which served as their summer meeting.
Heartland SCIA was also pleased to partner with Golden Horseshoe SCIA, SouthWest Ag Conference, and the Eastern Ontario Crop Conference to produce the 2021 Ontario Agricultural Conference, which was held virtually in early January 2021. While in-person events have a lot of benefits, given the ongoing pandemic restrictions, all involved were thrilled with the response to the online conference which saw more than 1200 participants from across the province take in more than 40 live and on-demand sessions. Heartland SCIA partnered with the groups again in 2022 to put on the conference. Looking forward to 2023, there will be ongoing discussion on how to best accommodate virtual and in-person conference offerings.
Heartland Region wrapped up its 3-year Tier Two grant project, Maximizing Cereal Rye for Multiple Benefits, in 2021. Thank you to Jake Munroe from OMAFRA and the many contributors and members who assisted with the project. The project has been awarded further funding and will continue into the 2022 season.
Georgian Central Region – Lorie Smith
Grey Ag Services holds the Regional Communication Coordinator (RCC) position for the Georgian Central Regional Soil & Crop Improvement Association which is composed of four active counties including: Bruce, Grey, Dufferin, and North Simcoe.
Of note, efforts to disband the South Simcoe Association are taking place.
2021 started in the same manner as the last 55 years with Grey Bruce Farmers Week taking place from January 5 to 12, but because of the ongoing pandemic, it was presented in a new way – virtually. Crops Day, with content directed by the Grey and Bruce SCIAs, was enjoyed by attendees from across Ontario, and beyond. The ability to reach a broader audience, and the increased viewer flexibility that the virtual program delivers, are distinct benefits.
The global pandemic continued to shutter in-person Soil and Crop plans for 2021, and committees from across the region saw the value in using virtual platforms to gather, maintain connections and keep some momentum rolling within the local associations. The Grey Ag Zoom account allowed all the counties to meet regularly. This allowed the work to continue, and perhaps more importantly, allowed the people within those organizations to see each other and catch-up.
Resilience and adaptation continued to be key words for everyone in 2022. Inspired by Grey SCIA who created 4 regional virtual Crop Walks in 2020, our other counties joined forces to produce virtual educational opportunities in 2021. In June, Grey SCIA hosted an in-field live Early Season Check-Up. Bruce SCIA followed with a Strip Tillage event with live and pre-recorded content in July. In August, North Simcoe focused on Tillage Plot Root Digs, with pre-recorded videos and live commentary. Dufferin’s Walk featured potato and rhubarb production, with pre-recorded content and live Q and A sessions. All the “walks” were very informative. There was ample time set aside for questions, and a mingle time was always worked into the agenda. These virtual crop walks were a fantastic tool to unite the whole region! The counties would like to thank OMAFRA and OSCIA for covering the costs of recording equipment through the Tier 1 Grant.
Communication and outreach continue to be particularly important for the Georgian Central Region. The Innovator e-newsletter and the information on the Georgian landing page have been appreciated. A paper version of the Innovator, and a Georgian bulletin are still being mailed out to a small number of members in the region who have indicated that they cannot access an on-line publication. Of note, members have reflected that when the paper newsletters were sitting on the cupboard, there was a constant reminder to read them. Unfortunately, when our email alerts get buried in the in-box, we forget to check out the e-news. Georgian Central would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to the eight sponsors who have supported our region for many years. Their sponsorship is acknowledged on our landing page and in our paper bulletins.
December saw Zoom annual meetings in North Simcoe and Grey Counties. Bruce County will hold theirs in January 2022, followed by the Dufferin AGM in February 2022. This online meeting option has been noted to have some perks, but there is consensus that members miss seeing other producers in-person, and really miss the food! The region is looking forward to planning events and activities for 2022. Without in-person events, membership renewals have been suppressed. This is weighing heavy on each of the county boards, and they are evaluating future activities and events that will hopefully increase membership to pre-covid levels.
We all look forward to returning to in-person events when it is safe to do so, but in the meantime, we will make every effort to ensure that members stay engaged and educated! Continuing with the ingenuity shown by the counties in 2021, we know that our members will have many virtual educational opportunities across the region should they be required. The role and benefits of continued virtual events when they are no longer the only means of outreach, will lead to interesting discussions and decisions in the future.
Lorie Smith on behalf of Grey Ag Services
Regional Communications Coordinator, Georgian Central Region
Golden Horseshoe Region – Janice Janiec
The Golden Horseshoe Regional Soil and Crop Improvement Association (GHSCIA) is a large region, comprised of the counties/municipalities of Brant, Haldimand, Halton, Niagara North, Niagara South, Norfolk, Peel and Hamilton-Wentworth.
The GHSCIA Regional Board is a large group, comprised of 18 members representing the local counties and agriculture businesses in the region. In 2021, Matt Beischlag of Haldimand was elected as regional President, Cathy Vitucci, Niagara North, as 1st Vice President and Holly Loucas, Brant, as 2nd Vice President. Peter Lambrick was re-appointed Treasurer, and the Board has significantly benefitted from Peter’s financial and governance expertise.
Steve Sickle was reappointed Provincial Director, and Janice Janiec remained in the Regional Communications Coordinator role and covered the regional Secretary role. The region held its annual meeting in April virtually, with almost full Board participation, and Executive carried out business for the rest of year as it was quiet due to the pandemic.
Despite the pandemic, all counties in the Region held successful, virtual annual meetings over the 2021 winter months. Some counties worked together on joint annual meetings, sharing keynote speakers and technical presentations, and using virtual break-out rooms for county business meetings. The virtual meeting setting prompted many creative ways to engage local membership while all remained safe at home.
Hamilton-Wentworth organized a successful and engaging event focused on farmer mental health at the end of January. More than 80 members tuned in virtually to hear Lesley Kelly (www.highheelsandcanolafields.com & @lesleyraekelly) share her mental health journey and learnings, as well information about Do More Ag’s work. This was an important and timely discussion to bring to our membership. Hamilton-Wentworth’s local board was active throughout 2021, coordinating and promoting local field trials, participating in a local safety event at Binbrook Fairgrounds and reviving their field sign program.
Activity in other counties varied, due to the pandemic. Most held local board meetings and attempted to plan activities, despite the challenging conditions. Transition to the new membership platform presented challenges for many counties as well, particularly as some welcomed new local Secretaries.
January 2021 brought the first, virtual Ontario Agricultural Conference – a collaboration of the Southwest Agricultural Conference and the Eastern Ontario Crops Conference, along with the Heartland and Golden Horseshoe soil and crop regions. Attendance for the virtual event was very similar to traditional SWAC attendance, and sponsorship support for the flagship event was phenomenal. Building upon the success in 2021, the collaboration continued for another successful event in January 2022. GHSCIA and Heartland regions continue to discuss the future of conference collaboration for our local area, and there are many learnings from the Ontario Agricultural Conference to apply.
Janice M. Janiec, CCA-ON
Regional Communications Coordinator, GHSCIA
(Brant, Haldimand, Halton, Peel, Niagara North, Niagara South, Norfolk, Wentworth)
East Central Region – Neil Moore
The ECSCIA began about 1964 and now includes Durham Region + Hope Township from Northumberland County, Peterborough, and Victoria (City of Kawartha Lakes) and Haliburton Counties, and York Region was added in 2001.
The Annual East Central Farm Show was not in the Commonwell Exhibition Building, Lindsay fairgrounds because of COVID.
The County Soil & Crop Improvement Association memberships were promoted, and 64 memberships sold.
ECSCIA uses some of the Farm Show proceeds to provide $1000 Scholarships – starting 2020 for up to 12 recipients each year (6 for 2014 to 2016, 3 for 2017, 9 for 2018, 6 for 2019), and up to $1100 for County SCIA and 4-H clubs in the East Central area to assist with projects. In 2021 projects were cancelled.
4 newsletters were sent to 397+ ECSCIA members and previous members. 75% only by email.
Eighteen newsletter sponsors are contributing $100/ yr each and this covers postage and extra costs as the printed copy is all colour now. The East Central SCIA web site hosts newsletters, coming events, project information, and links updated to new information.
Provincial Soil and Crop Conferences, Diagnostic Days, and Outdoor Farm Show information is included in coming events online https://regionalscia.org/areaevents-html/.
Calculated the weather data from 17 co-operators in the member counties including some from Quinte Region. Presented the data in newsletters and online https://regionalscia.org/weather-html/.
Attended County annual and director meetings via Zoom, presented updates.
Neil Moore, Sec-treasurer, and RCC
East Central Region Soil & Crop Improvement Association,
(submitted by Gord Speksnijder, Regional Director)
2021 was not without its challenges.
As with all the other regional associations, restrictions on in-person events put a damper on the social activities that are so important to the Quinte membership. When restrictions loosened a bit in September, Northumberland was able to host a drive-thru event where members could pick up a wonderful turkey dinner, catered by Betty Wickman, and, while not the usual get-together, were able to see friends and neighbours and have a quick chat from the tailgate.
Business activities included the Northumberland AGM, which was held using a hybrid approach in which members could participate from the comfort of their homes or attend one of several “host pods” where small groups could attend in-person and enjoy a quick lunch with fellow members. Prince Edward County was able to secure Tier 1 funding for communications activities and Hastings Lennox Addington has been busy drumming up interest in their local chapter.
On the research side, the Tier II relay cropping project, involving several growers, was wrapped up. Results are summarized in the OSCIA report and were featured on a Soil School video. Northumberland is also host to an ONFARM Soil Health BMP Trial Site.
The Quinte Farm Research and Stewardship Collaborative (QFRSC) has been active. Ongoing research is looking at the effects of farm management practices on soil health, developing models of soil erosion potential and phosphorus movement, and examining subsequent impacts on watershed in the region. An independent website under development will showcase the outcomes of this research. Lindsay Nash has been hard at work coordinating the projects and sharing results as they come forward. You can follow along on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn. Lindsay is also working on production of a series of videos, the first of which will highlight activities to support farmers as part of the Bay of Quinte Remedial Action Plan.
We’d like to take this opportunity to thank Tracie Westington for her efforts as RCC in 2021. Tracie informed us she will be stepping down from the position. We’re sad to see her go and wish her all the best.
Despite the challenges of 2021, the innovative spirit of Quinte’s members has persevered. We look forward to growing that spirit in 2022 and meeting whatever new challenges arise.
Eastern Valley Region – Tracy Myers
The Eastern Valley Soil and Crop Improvement Association is comprised of five counties: Stormont, Dundas, Glengarry, Prescott and Russell.
Currently these counties have a combined membership of approximately 300 which includes those individuals who receive the quarterly newsletter The Innovator and weekly Grassroots Matters, that is sent via email.
While each of the five counties actively participate in their own activities there has been increased interest in moving forward with more regional activities which would ultimately involve a larger number of the membership.
Although Eastern Valley had originally planned to have their annual in-person workshop in March of 2021, COVID continued and changed our plans. This communication-based strategy presented challenges of its own. However, members were delighted to still receive their quarterly newsletters, either electronically or via hard-copy. As the regional and local associations navigated the world of virtual workshops and communication we discovered that most members were very supportive of this type of engagement. For some it is the new “normal” way of doing things.
Moving forward, in 2022, Eastern Valley will be continuing with our communication strategies, using the Zoom and Teams platforms, and will be inviting all local associations to participate in one common meeting. Our Regional annual meeting, in 2021, was the first event to offer this, with one common guest speaker and common reports delivered to the group. Local associations then moved into their own local breakout rooms. We are also hoping that we will be able to have in-person meetings or activities in which to engage our membership (pending COVID capacity limits and restrictions). We look forward to these types of ongoing engagements!
Eastern Valley directors are continually working closely with our OMAFRA Specialists, who are an important part of our regional team and support us in many ways. Our Provincial Director, Warren Schneckenburger, is a great asset to our region and provides us with much support as well. We wish him well as he leads the provincial organization in the upcoming year and welcome a new Provincial Director to represent the region.
During 2021, as Regional Communication Coordinator, I was also involved in the following:
- Communicating with the directorship of EVSCIA, to overview the past year’s successes and to continue with our mandate of creating a more visible regional association that will continue to work with the five counties.
- Promoted county annual meetings, and offered assistance to the local associations, where required and requested. This was valuable to aid in future planning.
- Supported our provincial newsletter, The Innovator, by writing articles of interest to the general membership.
- Assisted with recruitment of membership as well as maintaining a master membership list from information provided by the local associations.
- Attended 2021 virtual Provincial Annual meeting as well as the Regional Communication Coordinator (RCC) training sessions.
- Participated in other communications as required by OSCIA.
- Worked closely with our regional EFP/GYFP coordinator to ensure that membership of Eastern Valley were aware of upcoming workshops.
- Investigated new sponsorship potential.
|Goals for 2022:|
|A) Further assist in strengthening the local associations within EVSCIA|
B) Actively engage in the enhanced direction that the RCC role is continually taking
C) Continue with regional events that would encompass membership within the five counties
D) Participate in additional local, regional and provincial activities and projects
E) Continue writing articles of interest for insertion into the Innovator quarterly newsletter
On behalf of the Eastern Valley Soil and Crop Improvement Association I would like to express my gratitude to the staff and directors of OSCIA and to OMAFRA staff who have assisted our region with their valuable input and support. We look forward to the ongoing communication in 2022.
Regional Communication Coordinator
Eastern Valley Soil and Crop Improvement Association
Ottawa-Rideau Region – Kelsey Banks
Accomplishments in 2021:
- Maintained and updated the Ottawa Rideau Regional SCIA website to promoting local, regional and provincial activities, coinciding with the Provincial e-newsletter.
- Partnered with the Ontario Soil Network to develop a ‘virtual road tour’ of farms and crops across Ontario.
- Worked with local associations to ensure the provincial database was up to date and included all members, to ensure everyone received The Innovator.
- Promoted Ag Conferences being hosted across the province.
- Promoted the Ottawa Valley Farm Show – one of Eastern Ontario’s agricultural traditions.
- Promoted safe planning of activities due to the COVID-19 regulations.
- Participated in training opportunities provided by the Provincial office regarding the establishment of new provincial newsletter, The Innovator and the new membership platform.
- Participated in Conference calls hosted by the Association Development Coordinator.
- Coordinated articles for provincial newsletter, The Innovator.
- Established a Zoom account for use by the Regional and local associations, assisting with Annual General Meetings.
Goals for 2022:
- Coordinate and increase sponsorship of regional events.
- Encourage greater participation in local and regional events.
- Continue to assist with expanding membership base.
- Continue to promote and participate in local and regional events,
- Continue to promote EFP and GYFP workshops and the cost share programs,
- Increase awareness of OSCIA through internet media, organizations, and publications.
- Continue to explore opportunities to partner with other organizations and programs to promote OSCIA and the ORRSCIA.
- Explore possible projects that can be conducted on a local and regional basis.
- Continue to work with the Provincial RCC’s to support provincial activities and goals.
- Assist with development of Provincial Newsletter.
- Increase collaboration between the local associations of the Ottawa-Rideau region with events, data, and other projects that can be held locally or province wide.
Regional Communications Coordinator
Ottawa-Rideau (Frontenac, Grenville, Lanark, Leeds, Ottawa-Carleton, Renfrew)
Northeastern Ontario – Emily Seed
Northern Ontario Farm Innovation Alliance (NOFIA) has acted as the Regional Communication Coordinator (RCC) for Northeastern Ontario Regional Soil and Crop since 2015.
In this capacity, NOFIA has worked to improve awareness and access to OSCIA funding and modernize the development and release of Breaking Ground (and now The Innovator through the provincial office).
Activities in 2021:
- Assist in producing 4 issues of The Innovator and regional content for the Northeast landing page, meeting all applicable deadlines; issues included agricultural innovation and technology transfer, per OMAFRA/OSCIA agreement
- Managed Nipissing & Sudbury Districts’ Tier 2 project to assess impacts of inoculant on soil & yields in potatoes and cereals, continuing for 2021 and 2022
- Worked with local associations to develop Tier 1 projects & build local capacity (i.e. worked with West Nipissing/East Sudbury on a project looking at Priaxor Fungicide on Alfalfa)
- Held the Northern Ontario Producer Research Day in February 2021 with support from local SCIAs to facilitate technology transfer and networking, featuring various research projects taking place in the north (plans for a virtual conference are currently in the works for February 2022)
- Attended some virtual events across the region, including AGMs.
- Maintained membership & mailing lists, updating upon receipt of district lists and assisting associations with the transition to the new membership platform
During 2021, we were approached to continue the mycorrhizal inoculant project for an additional two years. Data was collected and compiled from the mycorrhizal inoculant plots. Preparations are underway for the annual report of this project and farmers are interested to see the results. NOFIA and NEOSCIA thank OMAFRA and OSCIA for providing funding to support this project.
NOFIA and the NEOSCIA are looking forward to another year in 2022, further improving our membership databases, building and strengthening agricultural communities within Northern Ontario through the Northern Ontario Ag Conference, and providing tech transfer and educational opportunities to farmers in the north. Despite the challenges that 2021 presented, it has been a pleasure to work with the various associations over the last year and we look forward to 2022!
Emily Seed, NOFIA
RCC Northeastern Ontario
(Algoma, Cochrane, Manitoulin, Muskoka, Nipissing, Parry Sound, Sudbury, Temiskaming)
Northwestern Ontario Region – Rachel Kehoe