Homestead Feast

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Homestead Feast Celebrates the Future of Agriculture

Olds College welcomed over 275 friends, supporters, donors and guests to the 2nd annual Homestead Feast on the evening of Friday, April 12. Guests were welcomed by Olds College Equine students on horseback, and entered the Learning Resource Centre to find Agribusiness and Agricultural Management students who were on hand to present and discuss project posters created in class. The musical stylings of Jake Peters welcomed guests to the Bell e-Learning Centre, where guests were treated with samples of beer created by students and staff of the Olds College Brewery.

The event began with welcoming comments from student hosts Davis Clarke (Sports Management) and Jamie Kuzma (Applied Science in Agribusiness) who introduced Olds College Board of Governors chair Leona Staples to welcomed everyone to the celebration of local producers, delicious food, and Olds College students, alumni, partners and friends.

“As a local producer and as a member of the Olds College team, I recognize the importance of using technology to evolve the agriculture industry so that we can continue to meet the growing global demand for food production,” Staples began. “Olds College has an important role to play to ensure that Alberta’s agriculture community has the talent, knowledge and thought leadership to lead globally.”

Entertainment took the forefront, as a breathtaking indigenous dance performance by 2019 Calgary Stampede First Nations Princess Astokomii Smith, a 19-year-old Fancy Shawl dancer from Siksika First Nation, and her accompanying dancer, Desi Ryder to the amazement and enjoyment of the crowd.

Following the dance performance, Dr. Barb Mulholland, Dean of Agribusiness, Land and Fashion, and James Benkie, Dean of Program Development, Agriculture Technology, took the stage to share some information on the existing agriculture programs offered at the college, and two brand new agriculture technology programs that are set to open for registrations in the fall of 2019.

“Today Olds College’s flagship agriculture programs are our Agriculture Management Diploma and our Bachelor of Applied Science - Agribusiness Degree,” stated Dr. Mullholland. “It is our long standing reputation as a leader in demonstrating new, technology driven Ag practices that continues to draw students to our existing agriculture programs.”

“The College has increased capacity for enrolment in our Agricultural Management diploma to meet student demand, meaning that we now have 200 students on campus in the first or second year of the Ag Management Diploma program. These students are encouraged to critically look at the challenges facing the agriculture industry today, as well as the challenges facing the future of farming. They participate in courses such as agribusiness technology applications, machinery and technology, precision cropping systems and livestock nutrition, and enjoy a hands-on learning experience that the College has become known for.”

James Benkie followed by explaining that, through conversations with industry and producers, we know that we on the cusp of a digital transformation in the agriculture sector. Technology is transforming agriculture within existing farming systems, however some of the challenges include the integration of technology into current systems.

“Most technology falls broadly into three categories,” Benkie explained.  “Technology that may replace tasks and labour, such as robots, mechanization, and machine learning or artificial intelligence; technology that measures “things”, such as remote sensing, and technology that brings data together, in the Internet of Things, and software platforms and decision support systems.”

Our industry advisory group has helped us to see the significant skill gap that exists in the industry when it comes to supporting producers adopting new technology. We need graduates who can help producers identify productivity challenges and provide possible solutions that used technology and data to impact their bottom line.

“In response to this gap, Olds College is excited to launch two new programs in agriculture technology,” Benkie continued. “The first is a new Precision Agriculture- Techgronomy diploma, and the second is our Post-Diploma Certificate in Agriculture Technology Integration.”

With a focus on agronomy and technology, graduates from the Diploma in Precision Agriculture will be prepared for careers that require a deep understanding of the connectedness between agronomy, agriculture machinery, purpose-built network management, and data sciences.  This diploma program will help students discover ways to integrate technology into current and future farming systems to support not only family farms but agriculture service providers as well.

Graduates will be prepared to work in fast-paced environments where emerging technologies are constantly disrupting the industry.

The Post-Diploma Certificate in Agriculture Technology Integration is designed to provide students who already hold a diploma or degree, with an understanding of how related technologies and components interact to provide accurate information and real-time monitoring and controls to the agriculture producer.

Following the presentation from Dr. Mullholland and Mr. Benkie, dinner was served, including Olds College prime rib, prepared by the instructors and students of the Olds College National Meat Training Centre, with a delicious rustic relish and an oyster mushroom demi-glace, prepared using oyster mushrooms from Ceres Solutions, an innovative company owned and operated by Olds College alumnus Alex Villeneuve. The vegetables served at dinner were sourced from local producers, and the desert, a vanilla bean crème brulee made with Alberta eggs, and topped with a Wild Alberta Blueberry compote.

Dinner entertainment was brought by Cole Martin, a local country music artist who performed a variety of classics from artists including George Strait, along with a selection of original songs he composed himself.

Following dinner, the Calgary Stampede royalty assisted Danny and Ty Rosehill from Rosehill auctions by catching bids during the live auction, which saw a variety of items including wine packages, a John Deere garden tractor, a full beef from Marshall Farms, and a selection of vacation packages.

Following the live auction, Olds College President, Stuart Cullum, took the stage to announce our 2019 Partner of the Year.

“Partnerships plays a pivotal role in the success of the College, and have a large impact on the lives of our students and the quality of their education,” Cullum explained to a captivated audience. “As a tribute to the importance of partnerships, we present our annual Partner of the Year Award to a recipient who has had a positive impact on the College. This year the College was pleased to name United Farmers of Alberta Co-operative (UFA) as our 2019 Partner of the Year.”

The Olds College Partner of the Year is one of the most prestigious awards bestowed by Olds College. The recipients of this award reflect the mission of Olds College and support the values, mandate and vision in a manner that has a positive, measurable and lasting impact on the College. UFA and Olds College both have a long history of supporting the agriculture industry in Alberta.  UFA has made a generous $500,000 commitment to Olds College over the next five years, which will support the creation of the UFA Innovation Lab, located inside the new Smart Ag Innovation Centre. We share comparable history, both serving agriculture producers for over 100 years, and share similar values and an aligned vision for agriculture in Alberta.

Thank you to all of our volunteers, staff supporters, donor and sponsors for helping to ensure that Homestead Feast was a success.  With your support, we raised over $45,000 for the Olds College Smart Farm, which will support will help the Smart Farm to become a farm of the future and will allow us to incorporate the latest technologies to improve productivity, efficiency and sustainability.

Thank you to our 2019 Homestead Feast Sponsors


Title Sponsor


Platinum Sponsor


Diamond Sponsor