Nuffield study to examine ag school recruitment

Canada’s newest Nuffield Scholar plans to study how post-secondary agriculture prorgams around the world are recruiting students to stem what she says are declining numbers.

Karen Daynard, who operates ag communications firm KD Communications at Guelph, was named recently as the 2009 Nuffield Scholar by the Canadian Nuffield Farming Scholarship Trust.

Daynard is an Animal Science graduate of the Ontario Agricultural College (OAC) at the University of Guelph and has worked for Ontario farm and rural associations and agencies such as 4-H Ontario, AgCare, the Ontario Farm Animal Council, the Agricultural Adaptation Council, Ontario Pork and the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair.

Daynard said in a Nuffield Trust release that she’s concerned about the decline in numbers of students applying to post-secondary ag programs at universities and ag colleges.

“With the industry at an exciting position where the potential for biotechnology and especially bioproducts is immense, we’ll need a well educated workforce which understands agriculture,” she said.

“Already there are more jobs than employees and unless we do something to alleviate the stereotype that ‘an agricultural degree is only for farmers,’ this problem will just get worse.”

Daynard said she plans to use her scholarship to develop an “integrated communications plan which can be used to raise the profile of agricultural studies.”

She is working with the OAC and 4-H Ontario to secure funding as well as new partners who would use her research to implement a large multi-year recruitment campaign.

During her study tour, a mandatory undertaking for a Nuffield Scholar, Daynard plans to visit agricultural colleges and universities in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, South America and China as well as various U.S. states and other provinces.

Once Daynard’s studies are wrapped up, the Nuffield program requires that she produce a written report and present her findings at the annual Nuffield Conference, as well as to other interested groups.

Nuffield farming scholarships are directed each year to “enthusiastic individuals” between ages 25 and 45, to study “topics of their choice in agriculture, land management, horticulture or the food chain.”

The Nuffield program, which has operated in Canada since 1950, is based at Innisfail, Alta. Originally affiliated with the Nuffield Foundation in the U.K., the Canadian Nuffield Farming Scholarship Trust has held responsibility for the Canadian program since 1976.

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