Werklund Agriculture Institute (WAI)

Beyond Agriculture

The Werklund Agriculture Institute (WAI) at Olds College will be a hub for leadership, education and applied research in Smart Agriculture. WAI will be the world's premier destination for an integrated agriculture leadership learning experience and technology accelerator for industry collaboration.  

Beyond Agriculture banner


Institute Components

Werklund Agriculture Institute Alberta impact

Growth Centre icon  Werklund Growth Centre
Olds College will provide access to land and facilities so that researchers, entrepreneurs and start-up companies can test, demonstrate and scale up their Smart Agriculture technologies, products and services. The Growth Centre will be home to a Smart Agriculture Community of Excellence which will link students to a community of industry leaders, researchers, investors, progressive producers, technology companies, entrepreneurs and start-ups.

Thought Leader  Thought Leader in Smart Agriculture and Sustainability
The Thought Leader in Smart Agriculture and Sustainability will be an innovator, connector and advisor on economically, socially and environmentally sustainable agriculture with four key areas of activity: research and innovation, training, international engagement, and enterprise acceleration.

Producer Mentor program  Producer Mentor Program
Students will partner with world class agriculture business leaders in a full cycle (yearlong) of agriculture production. Students will be exposed to the application of Smart Agriculture practices, data gathering, analysis and critical decision making.

Agriculture & Food Enterprise  Olds College Agriculture and Food Enterprise
Olds College will transform its existing agriculture production, processing and retail program into a vertically integrated “gate to plate” agriculture and food learning enterprise. At each stage, students will be engaged in the daily “hands-on” management of the business. Students will have the opportunity to engage in production competitions, be exposed to Smart Agriculture research and development projects, interact with technology companies and other industry players and experiment with emerging technologies that will improve productivity and mitigate environmental impacts in a changing climate.

Investment Overview

The Werklund Agriculture Institute is made possible thanks to the largest personal donation to a college or technical institute in Alberta history. The generosity of David Werklund and Susan Norman, is intended to be leveraged significantly, encouraging other individuals, organizations and government to participate and contribute for the benefit of Olds College students, the industry and Western Canada.


Werklund Donation Breakdown

Maximizing the Impact

Donation breakdown

Largest personal donation in Alberta college history seeds Olds College Beyond campaign

David WerklundSusan Norman

Acclaimed Canadian entrepreneur, oilfield industry leader and dedicated philanthropist, David (Dave) P. Werklund and his partner, Susan Norman, have gifted Olds College with the largest ever personal donation to an Alberta college or technical institute. The tiered donation will have a cumulative total impact of $32M once all leverage opportunities are realized. No small potatoes, the generous ‘seed’ fund is designed to incent maximum participation and donations from other individuals, business organizations and governments.

Werklund’s upbringing on a rural Alberta farm instilled in him a deep respect for protecting and nurturing the land which sustains life through food production and job creation. Now David and Susan are pleased to lead the way in support of this uniquely Alberta solution for specialized education, research and partnerships in Smart Agriculture.



Sustainability of the initiative

Through an innovative funding structure, the WAI is designed to be fully capitalized and self-sustaining, requiring no additional funds to maintain operations for the foreseeable future.

  • Revenue is generated from crop and livestock operations and through the lease of land to producers who in turn embed student experience in their operations
  • All interest earned from cash donations is applied back to the project 
  • Rent/facility revenue is generated through use of the Growth Centre by external industry groups
  • Philanthropic naming opportunities exist within WAI facilities
  • Endowment for the Thought Leader is self-sustaining
What is Smart Agriculture?

Smart Agriculture is the optimization of technology and science for the efficient use of land and water for economic and environmental sustainability. It supports integrated, ‘learning’ agriculture and food systems by utilizing big data sensing technology and the Internet of Things to increase the quality and quantity of agricultural production.

[Adapted from Feb 2015 Forbes Magazine]

Can students, staff and alumni raise money for Beyond?

Yes! The Olds College family are a critical part of the Beyond campaign. We all benefit from Olds College programs and global reputation regardless of when we were active on campus. So it’s important that we all participate in Beyond. Here are some ideas:

  • Students: Bake sales, Kickstart social media campaigns, and inviting your family, friends and employers to participate
  • Faculty and Staff: Sign up to give to a campaign project you are passionate about through payroll deduction
  • Alumni: Donate directly to the campaign as an individual or business; incorporate a fundraising event into a business promotion (e.g., proceeds from hot dog sales on a promotion or sale day at your retail location); sponsorship of a Beyond event; encourage alumni to give through graduating class goals or challenges; etc.
Is Beyond a capital campaign for new or replacement facilities?

No. To achieve the Olds College vision of a world-class hub where students, researchers and industry come together to develop solutions, Beyond must include so much more than bricks-and-mortar. Beyond includes capital components like the Animal Health Education centre, and impact investment opportunities that support solution development and mental health and wellness initiatives, such as collaboration spaces in the Hub, and the development of the Community Wellness Campus. 

Who is part of the Beyond campaign cabinet?
  • Jim Courtney, Chair
  • Arlene Dickinson, Honourary Chair 
  • David Werklund
  • Henry Heuver
  • Roy Wilson
  • Susan Smed
  • Mackenzie Argent
  • Bill Quinney
  • Shirley McClellan
  • Blake Clark 
  • Ed Knash