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Executive Director Report

Ashley Honsberger, Executive Director

“Onwards and Upwards!”

Trying to put pen to paper all I can think right now is, “Oh boy, here we go!”

OSCIA has had another interesting year full of challenge and change. Having worked in the not-for-profit side of agriculture for some time, I can share that some of the challenges we have faced as a membership organisation are not unique to OSCIA. Members and volunteers of all organisations have felt the pressures of sharing their time, and carrying an extra load when it comes to the precariousness of the past three or four years. I am more than hopeful that over the next while we will regroup and carry on with a “here we go!” attitude as a team and carry on.

Part of that regroup process starts with the work our Governance committee has been doing through surveys to the local leadership, as well as with the new strategic plan that is in development.  The strategic plan will help us regroup as a community and identify the ‘North Star’ that we will track for the next three years. From my vantage, the heart of our planning will focus on association development, putting our grassroots at the centre.

During these past few months my first impressions have been that the team at OSCIA is incredibly skilled and committed. I’ve gotten to know staff who’ve been at OSCIA for five, sixteen and 24 years, and volunteers who’ve been with us for 49 years and perhaps longer.  Such longstanding commitments reflect the amount of passion and dedication there is for OSCIA and its mandate.

Andy Graham, having over thirty years tenure was an excellent mentor for my first few weeks. As we spent time transitioning, I learned much about the history and the future potential for organisation. I recognise I have much to learn still, and I am making my best effort to attend local AGMs and events because it’s a great way to get to know the grassroots firsthand.

I feel very fortunate to have joined the team this past October when cost share funding agreements were almost all signed, and a pile of exciting work was teed up and ready to go. 

The staff reorganisation helped us align our efforts to ensure strong teams that facilitate program delivery, assist with research and knowledge transfer to share best practises, provide financial and technological expertise and lastly a team wholly focused on the grassroots side of our organisation.

A few things that we look forward to continuing this upcoming year are the lowered Youth Membership fee, the continuation of the Mobile Soil Technology Suite and growing the newly formed Research and KTT department.

Our Association team has been working with a variety of partners to prepare for the Northwest Outdoor Agriculture Expo happening in Emo this July.

We are creating new, easy to use resources for the Regional Communication Coordinators (RCCs) to assist them in their roles communicating what’s happening at the grassroots level.

We are grateful for our ongoing partnerships with Tire Craft, Copernicus, Glacier Farm media and the team that leads the Outdoor Farm Show. Their support helps us increase our ability to serve the grassroots.

The staff, board and local volunteer leadership form a strong web of connections that move the vision of helping farmers to seek, test and adopt optimal farm production practises forward.

We have an exciting year ahead and I look forward to being part of the team that makes great things happen!