Fall always feels like a really transitional time. For many of you, it likely means a jump back into the routine of harvest season, with meals in the field, early mornings and late nights. Throw in kids, school, sports, spouses, other work commitments and an inevitable frost (or worse – a snowfall) and soon the long, hot days and warm, bright nights of summer are a distant memory.
But summer 2020 was quite different from previous seasons, and this fall comes with even more transitions than years past as we move into the new “normal.” The coronavirus pandemic changed the way we operate, both in personal and professional manners. Compared to some industries, Canada’s agricultural sector got off easy – farmers generally work individually or in small groups, so few modifications had to be made to maintain physical distancing guidelines. But the industry had a noticeable challenge when it came to events – an integral piece of the ag industry puzzle.
I’ve worked in agriculture for quite a few years and I love to read and do my own learning about the industry, but field days, crop tours, trade shows and conferences are where I learn the most. The conversations that happen in the middle of a field, at a random breakfast table or inside the beer tent are irreplaceable. The face-to-face connections are hard to beat, and I know I’m not alone when I say I always walk away with more knowledge than I came with.
This summer, almost all of the events I regularly attend across Canada were cancelled, and a few were replaced with webinars, pre-recorded videos or live virtual events. Can these digital platforms provide the same experience? Not quite. But they’re still pretty darn good, and although it’s hard to replicate an in-person conversation, it was encouraging to see the industry come together to deliver the next best thing. The power of the Internet has a way of building connection when we can’t have it otherwise – and if the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s how much we as humans need connection. We’re lucky to live in an age where we can use technology to interact with people across the country during a time where we can’t travel to be there in person.
The pandemic is putting a pause on more live events this fall and winter, including the Top Crop Summit, traditionally held in Saskatoon each February. But, we’ve transitioned to a virtual version and we hope you’ll embrace this change as much as we have. The 2021 Top Crop Summit, will be held online on Feb. 23 and 24, 2021, but you’ll still receive the same great content we’ve presented at previous events. We’ll be sharing more details in the coming weeks and months, so stay tuned to topcropsummit.com for more information.
Change can be hard, but it can also bring great rewards. If you’re hesitating at the idea of an online conference, I challenge you to give it a shot. After all, if my 82-year-old grandmother can figure out how to use a video chat, I bet you can too.