Program Director Jennifer Henrie traveled to Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, in October for the annual meeting of the International Association of Programs for Agricultural Leaders.

IAPAL is the professional networking group for over 50 agricultural leadership programs in the United States, Canada, Scotland, and Australia. Henrie was able to network and exchange ideas with representatives from more than 20 ag leadership programs in attendance, as well as several others joining by videoconference.

In addition to business meetings for the IAPAL organization, Henrie attended educational tours arranged by the hosting organizations, the Rural Ontario Institute and the Advanced Agricultural Leadership Program. IAPAL visited Parliament Hill with host Senator Rob Black, a former agricultural leadership program director who credits 4-H as his greatest source of personal growth and leadership skills. The group went on the floor of the Canadian Senate and met Greg Peters, the Usher of the Black Rod (a ceremonial officer similar to a sergeant-at-arms in the United States), who described the origins and traditions of the role dating back to the British Parliament and Canada’s former status under British imperial control.

Later the group visited the House of Commons for Question Period, a raucous practice in which Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau answered questions from the opposition party, sometimes met with shouts and jeers. The tours were a fascinating window into Canadian politics and government, which shares similarities with both the British and American systems. The first day concluded with sessions on international group travel and the Canadian Federation of Agriculture.

Day two of the conference featured a visit to a research farm conducting studies about increased water and fertilizer efficiency and improvements to crop yield with reductions in environmental impacts. Next was a stop at a mushroom farm and a visit to a sheep farm where the grazing pastures were also the site of solar energy panels. Finally, the group visited a distillery that makes vodka from waste lactose from the dairy processing industry.

As with SDARL seminars, the IAPAL conference was a chance to learn about agricultural industries and the social and economic drivers of change. More importantly, it was an opportunity for Henrie to connect with agricultural leadership colleagues, develop a network of trusted resources and friends, and take new ideas and innovations back to South Dakota for the betterment of the SDARL program and the leaders in the state.

IAPAL 2023 is set for Virginia, hosted by the VALOR program (Virginia Agricultural Leaders Obtaining Results). IAPAL also offers monthly teleconferences for member organizations covering a variety of leadership and programming topics.

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