In southern Alberta, Farming Smarter Director John Kolk probably needs no introduction. Chances are you've served with him on a board, council, or advisory committee. If not, you've watched him in action. John and brother Leighton took over the family farm in the late 1980s. They both serve on non-profit boards as part of their community service philosophy.
This philosophy also led John to interact with farmer-led organizations; which led him to the parent organizations that became Farming Smarter. His interest increased when, after the amalgamation, Farming Smarter "became a more deliberate organization with a clear focus on what it was trying to do," says John. "It had a more up to date way to transfer knowledge and become the space between research and new development."
While the Kolk brothers take their own farm business seriously, they also have a commitment to contribute to the industry as a whole.
"Especially if we see an organization trying to do good things, but not getting the board members they need to move the whole sector forward."
Even before he joined our board, John interacted with board members and staff in various ways.
"I always push toward working in partnerships. I find agriculture has too many silos in it and not just for storage of grain. You can get more done by pooling resources and maintaining interconnections." He says it's important to maintain a clear mission/vision, but not shy away from collaboration that can improve the overall ag sector.
He brings governance experience to the board and sees southern Alberta as one of Canada's agricultural hot spots that hasn't met its potential.
"I would like to see Farming Smarter offer something that grabs the whole picture around long term, sustainable agriculture. It's around how we manage our dryland in generally drought conditions and how we manage our water and irrigation in an efficient manner. I think we fill the role of a go-to, credible source to answer questions about farm sustainability that's economically, environmentally and financially viable," says John.
He believes that the future needs everyone to take part and an organization that champions the effort.