Friday, April 13th, 2018

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With many “Aggie” members in our club, we were privileged to have Prof. Rene van Acker as our guest speaker today, dean of the Ontario Agricultural Collage (OAC).  His main message? We need more Aggies – spread the word to the students you know. There are four jobs available for every qualified Aggie.

Speaker Dr. Rene Van Acker, Dean of OAC, Univ. of Guelph

Clay Switzer introduced our esteemed guest speaker, Rene van Acker, who is dean of the Ontario Agriculture College (OAC) at the University of Guelph.  Growing up on a farm in Burford, Ontario, Rene chose to study agriculture and graduated from OAC in 1989. He went on to complete his doctorate at the University of Reading in the UK. His research and path took him to Manitoba but he returned to Guelph in 2006 and joined the OAC faculty. Rene is internationally recognized for his research into weed management (not “that” kind of weed!) and he knows a lot about genetically modified crops, too, or so-called Franken Foods. At OAC, he raises funds for research chairs, and he passionately promotes Agri-Food as an exciting and worthy field of study for students. He is married with three children.

Rene said he had not been given a specific topic to speak on, so he had chosen his own:  Growing the Agricultural Sector. Above all, he wants to encourage more students to choose agriculture for their studies, because there are simply not enough Aggies to meet the marketplace demands. In fact, for every qualified Aggie, there are about four open positions, which actually offers unprecedented opportunities for OAC graduates. Few other fields of study offer such choice.

Not every Aggie becomes an actual farmer, although some do. There are also huge opportunities for employment in the Food & Beverages sector, for example, and most employers prefer to recruit specialists with formal agri-food qualifications. Food science is a huge business, needing many types of knowledge and expertise. And the strong reputation of OAC itself is a door-opener for its grads.

Guest Dr. Freeman McEwen, former Dean OAC, in discussion with Bill Winegard (L)

Agriculture is extremely important to our economy, with growth potential in emerging markets, and even as a hedge against NAFTA threats.

Rene went on to explain the challenges in recruiting students to this field of study, and innovative approaches that are being used to attract them.

Bottom line:  if you know any young people who are wondering what to study, please send them to OAC for a friendly chat about the amazing possibilities available.

Bill Stevens thanked Rene for his informative and invigorating talk, and noted that the old common slogan, “If you ate today, thank a farmer” should now be, “If you ate today, thank the agri-food sector!”


Freeman McEwen, former dean of OAC

Head Table:

Jim Stevens

Ken Hammill

Jim Anderson

(the above all sporting their distinctive OAC Aggie sweaters)

Paul Dredge (standing in for Marty Fairbairn)

Rene van Acker (guest speaker)

Clay Switzer


  • Paul Dredge thanked the 10 Rotarians who came out last Tuesday to support students writing their EQAO High School Literacy exam.
  • Marva Wisdom paid a moving tribute to the empathy of Canadians following the tragic Humboldt Broncos bus crash last week.
  • Carolyn Weatherson pointed out the Rotary Forest posters on the tables and asked members to help promote community participation our annual tree planting on Saturday, April 21st. “Tree Captain” volunteers are still needed – contact Jan Jofriet if you can help.
  • Anne Pennock called for a few more volunteers to help sort through some of our club archives.

Carolyn Weatherson seeking volunteer tree captains for April 21 tree planting event

Happy Bucks

Richard Broadwith is happy to have submitted the first income cheque from Rotary Local Lager, with more to come.

Bill Stevens said he’s a Happy Bill and feels lucky for having his birthday today on a Friday, as he was born on a Friday the 13th.


50/50 Winner

The 50/50 draw this week was won by Walter Stachnyk

Rotary Anniversaries

Karl Wettstein – 13 years

Mary Duquesnay – 19 years

Ian Smith – 19 years

Beverley Trist-Stewart – 4 years

Peggie Currie – 11+2 = 13.5 years

For a total of 68.5 years of fine service to Rotary!

Rotary Birthdays

Justin Funk – April 7

Doug Adlam – April 8

Gunter Thase – April 11

Alan Jarvis – April 12

Bill Stevens – April 13


Editor: Terrie Jarvis

Photographer: Jan Jofriet

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