Invited guests work on the objectives for the Stanley Agriculture Society. (GREG VANDERMEULEN/Winkler Times)
The Stanley Agricultural Society is hoping a recent search conference will improve their organization.
The group hosted the day and a half long event Nov. 24-25, inviting various stakeholders from the region.
Society president Toban Dyck said the idea for the conference was first floated almost a year ago.
However, as the ongoing issue involving the potential loss of their property to the City of Winkler for their recreational centre expansion continues to develop, Dyck said it became apparent this was needed.
“We decided that direction and vision was so important to the Ag Society and if we are going to fight to exist, beyond what happens with the land, it’s important we do something,” he said.
Stakeholders took part in a lengthy process to determine goals going forward, and objectives that could be accomplished to achieve those goals.
Dyck said the process was fantastic.
“I will say that initially we were curious about how many people would attend, but I really, really enjoyed this group of people,” he said. “I think it brought a diverse set of opinions and a good vision for the Ag Society.”
Stanley Agricultural Society began in 1947 with a group of farmers. John Elias, the first president, with fellow members of the Creamery Board were the first directors.
The first fair hosted by the society was the same year with eight clubs and 80 calves exhibited. Besides cattle there were also many entries for hogs, chickens, rabbits, geese, ducks and even doves.
The role of the society has changed over the years, but Dyck said they are still relevant, and can become even more so, as the group identified education as a need.
“There’s a need for ag education in the area so we definitely left this meeting here today with a kind of renewed sense of providing that, of filling that void and providing educational opportunities for kids and adults in the area, on agriculture, on rural living, on all that sort of stuff,” he said.
The need to increase their exposure was also identified.
“Lots of people don’t know we exist and we want that to change,” he said. “We want people to know we exist, and we want people to want to get involved in what we do.”
Dyck said the conference showed the Ag Society is still important, especially considering how many more people no longer have farm roots.
“I think there’s certainly a continued need, if not an increased need for a society like the Ag Society,” he said. “It will need to change. It will need to adapt.”
While much work remains in achieving the new goals, Dyck said people left the conference feeling good.
“I’m really happy with how this turned out,” he said. “It’s so important to have a vision and a mission for what we would do.”
“I think we got there in this search conference. I think we have a new pool of interested community members now and I think we have some more volunteers,” he added. “I think it’s fantastic.”