Tue 25, Sep 2018
Since taking on the role of Chair, I have been considering how the Ag Institute is viewed by professionals working in Australian agriculture and what they see as our contribution to the sector. I have also been reflecting on why members keep loyal to the organisation and what will keep us in business in 2030 and beyond. The questions that our organisation, and the board, need to be asking about our relevance to the sector are:
* Why will we have members and what will keep them paying their subscriptions?
* How will the organisation be supporting our members?
* What will our offering be relative to other associations, professional bodies and organisations?
I can’t say as organisation we have the answers to these questions. And we have not sought these views from our stakeholders. But they are at the front of mind for our board members and I would think in the minds of many of our members as well. With so many changes that are underway in our sector, both in agriculture and natural resource management, it is hard for any single association to keep up and remain relevant. That is evident in the fact that many of us have multiple professional association memberships and gradings.
There will be new entrants coming to the sector from non-traditional agricultural fields including engineering, environmental sciences, information technology, computer and data sciences, molecular genetics, law, IP, and host of others. While our heritage has been in the traditional agricultural sciences, this group of traditional professionals is becoming proportionately smaller and the agricultural sector is widening beyond the more traditional definition. Many professionals want to move into the growing sector.
The implications of this is that as an organisation will need to adapt, capture and support those people who are looking for an organisation to support them as they make their way as a professional into the sector. If we don’t, then these professionals and potential members will find other supportive organisations to help anchor them and give them recognition as they progress their careers.
It is an exciting time for the sector and potentially for the Ag Institute if we can adapt and remain relevant. But our existence is not a given. For these reasons, I have been focused on ensuring the board keeps the Chartered Scheme front of mind as well as the changes that will be coming with that, including the new membership categories that will open the way for us to increase our membership. The good thing about the additional membership offerings is that no existing members will lose their current gradings. In fact, we are providing more membership options, for both existing and new members, and we encourage members to take steps to get recognised for their achievements. In the coming weeks, we will be releasing the Chartered Handbook and confirming the membership categories and subscription prices for 2019.
Also, with the investment that the organisation is making in our national conference in November this year, I would expect members will take the opportunity to register and plan to
take part in this and help us get the national conference re-established as part of our calendar of events. The conference will tackle the future of agriculture head on with the theme of Brave New World: Ag to 2030. This conference has an outstanding line up of speakers and sessions. I encourage members to share information on this event through your social media accounts, via email and simply recommending it to colleagues, both within and outside the Ag institute. Apart from the great content, the event offers an invaluable opportunity to network with sector leaders, which may lead to new opportunities in your career, consulting work, as well as new insights to challenge the way you have been delivering your line of work. If you would like more information about the conference, or you have suggestions for sponsorship and getting more registrations, then please drop me a note.