Business of the Association

2020 OSCIA President, Stuart Wright

2020 OSCIA President, Stuart Wright

This year will go down in the 81-year history of the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association as one of the most difficult, confusing, and challenging that the Association has ever faced. But given that, it can be honestly said with great challenge comes the opportunity for great accomplishment and growth. That is what I believe happened for OSCIA in 2020.

Local associations faced with the barrier of no face-to-face meetings adapted by using phone calls and Zoom meetings to conduct their business. While the Provincial Board provided funding for necessary online connection it was really the ingenuity of the locals and regions that shone through and allowed them, in some cases, to virtually salvage midsummer events and, in all cases, to conduct virtual or socially distanced Annual General meetings, to not only fulfill basic obligations but to do so with imagination and quality. Well done!

Head office staff seamlessly adapted to work at home realities and carried out their duties admirably. Our obligations to deliver programs in service to our Canadian Agriculture Program clients were met with all possible efficiency and determination. Not to mention, our partners at the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs were consumed with the crisis our province was facing and certain processes took longer than anticipated with respect to programs. And while programs were excelling the applied research staff were matching them, ramping up our new ONFARM and Living Labs initiatives. While there were some slowdowns with Living Labs, the ONFARM piece is off to a great start with cooperators in place and trials in motion testing and verifying Best Management Practices. Also in the research realm the 3-year Tier 2 trials are wrapped up and we are looking forward to results.

Other key improvements to our Association in 2020 included the launch of The Innovator our online newsletter that will improve our ability to deliver top level technical innovation to our members while saving money at the same time. Add to that our Strategic Plan update that was an important focus of the Provincial Board this summer. The updated Strategic plan will set the course for OSCIA for the next 3-years. An offshoot of the Strategic and Financial vision of the Plan was the decision to move our head office location away from 1 Stone to Woodlawn Road in the north end of Guelph in 2021. This move will save the association considerable lease obligations and I think make our head office more accessible for many members. One last key improvement for 2021 will be the acquisition of a Mobile Soil Compaction trailer that will be available for rental to the locals following up on the very valuable Elgin and Dundas compaction events of 2019. More to come in Margaret May and Ian McDonald’s presentation during our Annual Meeting.

Do we have more challenges going forward? Absolutely. Always have and always will. Do we have a strong Board and outstanding staff to manage these challenges? Absolutely. I am genuinely confident in our incoming President Chad Anderson. In my time with him on the Board he has demonstrated real leadership and foresight and will lead OSCIA forward strongly.

As I look back on all that has transpired this year I think all levels of our Association have reason for pride and satisfaction. In the end we handled what was thrown at us, rose above it and now we’re stronger, we’re smarter and we’re better.