Rural Ontario leader appointed to Senate

Former 4-H Canada president Rob Black will be stepping down from his role as CEO of the Rural Ontario Institute to take his place in the Senate. (Photo courtesy ROI)

A leader in Ontario’s agriculture and rural community is one of Canada’s newest senators.

Rob Black, executive director of the Rural Ontario Institute and a former president of 4-H Canada, was named Thursday as one of two new senators from Ontario by Governor General Julie Payette.

Why is this significant? It has been a long time since someone so connected in Ontario agriculture has been a member of the Senate.

Also a Wellington County councillor since his election in 2014, Black has been the head of the Rural Ontario Institute (ROI) since it was formed in 2010.

ROI advocates for and researches rural issues and also administers the long-running Advanced Agricultural Leadership Program (AALP).

The ROI announced Black will help with the transition to a new CEO of the organization.

“We thank Rob for his many years of dedication and passion to the (AALP) preceding the formation of the Rural Ontario Institute and especially for his guidance and stewardship since then,” said Suzanne Trivers, ROI board chair.

Black has also held many roles in 4-H over the past 40 years ranging from member, to leader, to the founding executive director of 4-H Ontario.

Black has also been the general manager of the Ontario Soybean Growers and worked for the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs for 15 years.

Black received his Bachelor of Science in Agriculture from the University of Guelph and a Bachelor of Education from Queen’s University.

“Rob Black has always been an enthusiastic supporter of youth and agriculture throughout his career,” 4-H Canada chairman David Hovell said Friday in a release.

“4-H Canada is proud to have a champion for those causes in the Senate and looks forward to working alongside him as we advance the development of youth leaders committed to positively impacting their communities across Canada.”

The other new senator from Ontario is Martha Deacon, an educator and director on the Canadian Olympic Committee.

“I am confident that Parliament will benefit from Ms. Deacon and Mr. Black’s knowledge and experience, and that they will be great ambassadors for their region and communities,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday in a separate release.

— John Greig is a field editor for Glacier FarmMedia based at Ailsa Craig, Ont. Follow him at @jgreig on Twitter.

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