Bright minds at Olds College

  • 3.5 min read

Olds College

  • Established in 1913, is located in Olds, Alta., about 85 kilometres north of Calgary.
  • Vision is to be the premier integrated learning and applied research community specializing in agriculture, horticulture, land and environmental stewardship.
  • Known for high-tech, hands-on agriculture education and innovative applied research that lays the foundation for solving real-world problems in farming, food and land.
  • Offers programming in agriculture, horticulture, land and environment management, animal science, food production, business, and trades and apprenticeships.
  • Home to a 2,000-acre Smart Farm described as “essentially a giant lab that provides the agriculture sector a venue for commercial-scale applied research.”
  • Recently launched two new programs in agriculture technology, including a precision agriculture tech-gronomy diploma and an agriculture technology post-diploma certificate.
  • Ranked among the top 50 research colleges in Canada by Research Infosource Inc.

David McKinnon

Program: Agriculture Management

Major: Production

Hometown: Nanaimo, B.C.

Why did you choose this career path?

I chose to leave the army after 13 years, and I decided to follow a dream I’ve had since I was a kid and got my first horse. The opportunity to work with my horse and help out some friends with cattle got me looking at Olds College and the agriculture management program. A close friend showed me what she had been learning with variable rate and regenerative agriculture. Seeing how emerging technologies and practices are helping agriculture feed the future and take care of the land opened my eyes.

Where do you see yourself in five to 10 years?

Finish my diploma, complete my bachelor’s at the University of Lethbridge in agricultural studies and become a professional agrologist with Alberta Institute of Agrologists. I hope to have my own land with cattle and horses, while contributing to regenerative agriculture in a meaningful way. I want to help producers get the most out of their land while ensuring it will be even better for the generations to follow. Part of this is to find ways to apply the emerging technologies that are helping crop production maintain better and higher-producing pastures for livestock.

What tips do you have for others?

Enjoy your time at school! Form friendships, join clubs and learn everything you can. There will always be an assignment you could have done better on, or a test where you missed an answer that should have been obvious. But at the end of the day, you’ll remember the friends you made and the things you learned, not the question you got wrong. So do your best, relax, and enjoy this experience.

Lauren Ward

Program: Precision Agriculture

Hometown: Didsbury, Alberta

Why did you choose this career path?

Even as a kid, I always wanted to be a farmer – an odd aspiration for someone growing up in town. I was drawn to farming. I would constantly ask to help feed cows or ride in a tractor whenever I visited my grandparents’ farm. This interest really came to life this year, after I learned about all the new technology and everything going on in agriculture today and specifically at Olds College. I knew I had to be a part of it. I can’t wait to take what I am learning to help farmers and the environment, while getting to work in an industry I love.

Where do you see yourself in five to 10 years?

Working with farmers and for farmers, helping them mould their agricultural practices in ways that better fit the environment around them and benefit them financially. I don’t know what this means for me yet, but I am passionate about the possibility of improving agriculture here in Canada and in parts of the world where agriculture is not as developed. I believe a “smarter” and more sustainable way of farming is very reachable, and I am excited to be a part of it. 

What tips do you have for others?

To work in agriculture, you don’t need to fit the idea of a stereotypical farmer. I was worried about that, because I have never lived on a farm. I was worried I might fail because I haven’t grown up farming, but I quickly discovered that even if it might take a few more steps to reach your goals, you’ll be more thankful when you get there. There’s no shame in working a little harder. You’ll appreciate it more later when you succeed

From an AgriSuccess article by Owen Roberts.