Investment Will Help Ontario Build Rural Community Leaders

 The Ontario government is investing up to $836,250 over three years to increase the capacity of rural volunteers and organizations across the province. The Ontario Association of Agricultural Societies is partnering with the Rural Ontario Institute to build upon the good work done by agricultural society volunteers by providing training and workshops that will enhance leadership and governance skills as well as management practices.

“Ontario’s agricultural societies play an important role in leading amazing, annual rural community activities. This educational initiative will enhance the leadership, governance skills and best management practices in important rural organizations, and by extension our agriculture and food industry across the province,” said Lisa Thompson, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. “By investing in people who give so much to maintain our rural traditions and communities, we are showing our appreciation for their commitment and leadership.”

This funding will help the Ontario Association of Agricultural Societies partner with the Rural Ontario Institute to provide educational supports focused on leadership, governance, and community engagement to more than 200 agricultural societies across the province. It will also aid the development of other resources that will help agricultural societies hold fairs and events promoting agriculture and the agri-food industry.

“This support is an investment in the future of agricultural societies across Ontario by developing strong leaders and ensuring the vitality of the agri-food sector and rural communities,” said Vince Brennan, Executive Director, Ontario Association of Agricultural Societies.

Agricultural societies are run mainly by volunteers and play a critical role in educating people about the importance of agriculture and celebrating a rural way of life. Supporting this important sector will ensure the long traditions and economic contributions of agricultural societies continue to thrive and attract new talent. By building leadership capacity and involvement within the agriculture and food industry, this investment will further benefit rural communities while maintaining an important tradition at fairs where the ‘best of the best’ in community, the homecraft division, and agricultural competitions continue to be celebrated.

The Ontario Association of Agricultural Societies has been in operation for over 175 years. Ontario’s agri-food industry generated over $48 billion in provincial Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and employed one in ten Ontarians based on 2022 data.