A silver medal of excellence has been awarded to Lakeland College in the category of college/industry partnership from the World Federation of Colleges and Polytechnics (WFCP).
The international award placed Lakeland behind a college in the United Arab Emirates, who got the gold, and ahead of one in China, which received bronze in the category. Josie van Lent, dean of agricultural sciences at Lakeland, was excited to be ranked among such schools around the globe.
“Obviously we’re in a smaller rural location, but we do think globally for sure, but when I saw the list I was like, ‘Wow, we were right up there with others from all over the world.’ So it definitely had an impact when I saw who we were up against,” she said. “It was quite an honour to be recognized globally.”
The award was granted for Lakeland’s student-managed farm and its continuing success in working together with local, provincial and national industry. Van Lent said they have always had great support from partners like New Holland, who provide the farm with equipment, and also crop-life science companies like Bayer, Monsanto, DuPont, Cargill and others.
“Our students, because they manage all of our farm units, they’re directly interfaced with industry all of the time. They buy our fertilizer, they go to the bull sales and buy our bulls, so there are an unbelievable number of people, farm and agriculture businesses, who provide support and work with our students.”
She said this is why the program is so successful, “and hence the award.”
The 2,200-acre farm has crop, dairy, beef and sheep operations all managed by students. The students are also responsible for the business, financial, marketing and production side of things as well. “It’s their farm,” said Van Lent.
Other projects that contributed to the award involved international partnerships with countries like Belize and Tanzania, to help develop their agricultural programming. There were also missions with the provincial and federal governments to Russia and Kazakhstan that resulted in students selling some heifers overseas.
“So that’s another example of how we partnered with government and industry,” she said.
In the end, Van Lent said the award is about showcasing and encouraging best practices in education, the fact that they have students actively engaged and that the students are really living the learning.
“That was a big part of why we won and we can’t do that without industry support.”