Never stop learning is a fairly popular slogan, and one that in the internet age you can't help but live by (thank you Wikipedia)! But when it comes to professional growth, sometimes it requires more planning and often a serious financial commitment. Professional development and post-secondary (or post-post secondary) education are an investment in yourself, your career and your ambitions. There are many options out there and while variety is great, if you have only so many resources, whether that's time or money, it can be difficult to determine which program is the right fit for you.
Over the next little while we'll be sharing some interviews with women who have chosen to invest in themselves through different programs. We hope this will give you new insight should you be considering such an investment yourself!
Nuffield Canada Scholarship
"Each year Nuffield Canada awards three scholarships of $15,000.00 to enterprising Canadian individuals with a passion for agriculture. The scholarship is to be used for a minimum of 10 weeks of travel for the purpose of study. Recipients can come from any field of agriculture, including livestock, grain or vegetable production, forestry and horticulture and can come from any aspect of the industry, including owners, managers, employees, administrators or bureaucrats." - Nuffield Canada website
Cheryl Hazenberg kindly agreed to answer a lot of questions to give you the inside scoop on her Nuffield Canada Scholarship experience.
Why did you choose to participate in this program?
I was really intrigued by the opportunity to travel and learn about agriculture in a global context, it was really those two things that attracted me to it.
Were you encouraged to apply by someone?
A friend of mine actually brought it to my attention, she hadn’t participated in the program but as soon as she heard about it she knew it would be something that I would be interested in.
Did you have to apply? What was involved in the application process?
Yes, there is an application process which is due the end of April each year. There is then a shortlisted group of applicants selected for a teleconference interview. Typically the interviews are held end of May/early June. It was the middle of July when I got the news that I had been selected.
How many other people participated in the program at the same time? Did they have similar backgrounds to you?
There were 3 scholarships offered the year I was selected. We all had agriculture backgrounds, each of us studied ag in school and were working in the industry but we were all in very different sectors; one from in crops and the other was in swine while I was working in the beef industry. I was living in Alberta at the time and one of the other guys was also an Albertan while the third recipient was from Ontario. Being a national program, participants can come from anywhere in Canada.
How long did the program last for? What kind of financial commitment were you required to make? Did you need to take time off work to participate and how much? Did you need to take significant time away from your family or personal commitments?
You have two years to complete your study and you present at the conference the end of the second year.
The scholarship itself is worth $15,000 however you do end up investing a significant amount of your own money as well. You can seek additional sponsorship to cover the additional cost or cover it yourself.
The requirements are that you travel for a minimum of 10 weeks over the 2 years with at least one trip that is a minimum of 6 weeks away. There is also a week long conference in February which moves around the world that is a requirement to attend.
What was the format of the program?
It is a self-led process however you have access to the entire Global Nuffield network which is great for helping you along the way, making introductions, putting you up for a night etc. There is also lots of opportunity to reach out to fellow Canadian Nuffielders if you run into any trouble.
The week long Contemporary Scholar’s Conference which is in February is a way to meet all the other current scholars; network and learn a lot about the conference host country. Each Nuffield country takes turns hosting it. My year it was in Australia.
There is also the option of participating in the Global Focus Program (GFP) set up by the Australian organization which people can choose to participate in with 5 or 6 other scholars and you travel together for 8 weeks.
What were your top three takeaways from the program?
-The network is certainly one of the main ones!
- The ability to see primary production in many different countries taught me that everyone shares the same challenges in this industry, we are far more alike than we are different.
- It also really made me see our industry in a different light, it puts a lot of things in context, like how low the cost of production for beef is in Australia compared to Canada, we will never be the cheap alternative when competing with these other countries and seeing it first hand really brought that home for me.
If you could change something about the program, what would it be?
I would certainly like to see the program grow in Canada. It has made a lot of progress in the past 10 years but we really need more corporate sponsors to come on board and more people to apply. It is a fantastic opportunity and the more people that can be part of it the greater the entire program becomes.
Do you feel that your participation in the program resulted in the development of new skills?
I gained a lot of confidence by participating in the program and learned a lot about myself. At the annual conference we did a lot of work looking at personality types and interpersonal dynamics which was a real learning moment for me. The confidence was really from going through the process and completing it as well as travelling in places like China and South America by myself.
Do you feel that your participation in the program resulted in advancement opportunities for you?
There are many invitations to participate in other activities that come out of being a scholar while you are currently studying and continuing beyond. There are a number of global organizations that invite scholars to join in their events and programs.
Do you feel that your participation in the program changed you in any way?
Yes it did. It was while I was travelling doing my Nuffield research that I realized how badly I wanted to return to primary production. When I was selected, I was living in Calgary and working in the industry but not involved in farming directly. Halfway through the program I ended up moving back to Ontario and help manage our family farm with my sister and it was certainly the right decision.
I also wouldn’t have ended up farming in Ireland if it wasn’t for the program. I met my now husband indirectly through the program so it certainly has changed my life more than I could have ever imagined.
Looking back and considering all the costs and opportunities, would you participate in this program again?
Without a doubt. I am so glad I applied and have learnt so much about global agriculture and myself through the process.
Would you recommend this program to someone in the agricultural industry today?
Absolutely, it really is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
(Photo by Morre Christophe on Unsplash)