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Alberta Colleges & Polytechnics Create Agriculture and Food Research Collaborative

July 29, 2021

In support of Alberta’s economic recovery, seven of Alberta’s Colleges and Polytechnics have signed a declaration to work together to advance agriculture and food research in Alberta.


The declaration will see Grande Prairie Regional College, Lakeland College, Lethbridge College, Medicine Hat College, NAIT, Olds College and SAIT work together to enhance agriculture and food research through the sharing of data, expertise and research capabilities, while supporting the evolution of policy and advocating for the industry. 

“Individually Alberta’s Colleges and Polytechnics play a critical role in supporting agriculture and food research, collectively our impact is even greater,” comments Stuart Cullum, President, Olds College. “In 2020, Alberta’s agri-food sector was a $56 billion industry and is the largest employer in Alberta. It will continue to be a foundational industry for our region’s economic success and while our institutions are already doing much to collaborate in support of its growth and prosperity, this declaration further solidifies our intent to work in an integrated fashion.” 

The collaborative declaration provides a framework for the signatories to also identify joint research opportunities, support consistent and competitive fee structures for agriculture and food related applied research services, facilitate work-integrated learning opportunities for students, and to collectively share data and results. 

Dr. Shabeg Briar and Dr. Paul Tiege looking at plot trials on the Olds College Smart Farm.

“NAIT’s applied research expertise in energy, environment, and sustainable development complements the areas of focus of our post-secondary colleagues, enabling us to work together to support the continued development of Alberta’s agriculture and food industry,” comments Laura Jo Gunter, NAIT President & CEO. “This collaboration will also provide our students with new perspectives and opportunities from across Alberta’s post-secondary and business communities. We are excited to be part of this initiative, and to contribute to an economic sector that will play a key role in Alberta’s economic recovery.” 

“The shared knowledge of Alberta’s colleges and polytechnics ensures Alberta can continue to be a world leader in sustainable agriculture practices,” says Dr. Paula Burns, Lethbridge College President and CEO. “By working together with our partners throughout the province, we can leverage the skills, knowledge and resources in each of our institutions to push forward industry-relevant research that will make a difference in the lives of those involved in Alberta’s agriculture sector, while supporting the provincial economy. Lethbridge College welcomes this collaborative declaration and looks forward to the countless possibilities it brings.”

Each of the institutions bring to the table their own applied research specialties in agriculture, technology, and environment. Working together they will be able to support the agriculture industry through collaborative applied research.      

Dr. Nick Savidov, senior research scientist (top) and Penny Takahashi, aquaculture coordinator, in Lethbridge College’s Aquaculture Centre of Excellence.

“Medicine Hat College is proud to be part of this declaration and working collaboratively within the sector to support innovation, sustainability, growth, and opportunity in agriculture and food applied research,” comments Kevin Shufflebotham, President and CEO of Medicine Hat College. “There is much we can learn from each other as we continue to find new and innovative ways to serve our students, our communities, and our global society. This is particularly timely as we welcome students to the college’s first agriculture-related program this fall.”

“It is more important than ever for colleges and polytechnics to work together to ensure efficiencies in everything we do, including applied research,” comments Dr. Alice Wainwright-Stewart, Lakeland College President and CEO. “Sharing data, expertise, and research capabilities allow us to provide more comprehensive results to producers and industry and increases student engagement and hands-on learning opportunities. By participating in this declaration, Lakeland College is pleased to commit to enhancing the collaboration that is already ongoing between our institutions.”

“Nearly 70 years ago, agriculture provided the catalyst for the development of Grande Prairie Regional College's Fairview Campus,” said Dr. Vanessa Sheane, Interim Vice-President, Academic and Research. “This is truly part of who we are and we couldn’t be happier to work together with post-secondaries across Alberta to strengthen applied research and discovery in this vital industry.”  

“The agriculture and food sector industries in Alberta are vital to the economic success of the province,” comments Dr. David Ross, SAIT President and CEO. “The involvement of post-secondary institutions is important and SAIT looks forward to advancing the initiative through collective research and valuable work integrated learning for our students.”

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