UFA supports innovation in Agriculture at Olds College with $500,000

UFA and Olds College

(L-R) Kevin Hoppins, UFA Chairman of the Board, Carol Kitchen UFA President and CEO, Leona Staples Olds College Chairman of the Board, Delanie Knull, Olds College Agriculture Management student, Stuart Cullum, Olds College President.

United Farmers of Alberta Co-operative Limited (“UFA”) announced today a $500,000 commitment to Olds College and its focus on agriculture innovation and technology.

The five-year financial commitment enables Olds College to create the UFA Innovation Lab, located on campus inside the Smart Ag Innovation Centre. Construction is expected to be complete in December 2018.

The lab will be “a dedicated technological hub on campus where students and faculty can gain and share knowledge, build networks and turn innovative ideas into technological solutions that can benefit the agricultural industry,” says Olds College President, Stuart Cullum.

“Not only is the donation from UFA an investment in the student experience but it’s an investment in the future of agriculture,” says Cullum. “Students who have a keen interest on solving issues in the industry, now have a place to go. They’ll be able to explore new ideas, test innovative products and processes, and ultimately express their entrepreneurial creativity in ways that will make a positive impact on Alberta’s agriculture sector.”

UFA President & CEO, Carol Kitchen says the donation makes sense from a business perspective. “At UFA we are committed to investing and supporting technology and innovation especially as it pertains to new solutions for agricultural industries. The investment at Olds College is another example of how as a forward-thinking co-operative, we are focused on collaborating with our agricultural partners to actively engage, learn from and work with young minds in our community. Ultimately, our goal is to support the success of our members and their operations. We are confident that the investment at Olds College will help to do just that today and well into the future.”

In addition to the creation of the UFA Innovation Lab, the donation will help fund the Olds College Smart Farm. The Smart Farm uses cutting edge technology to provide a hands-on learning environment for students of the College and an opportunity for industry to develop, integrate and test new agriculture technology and practices.

“The impact of this donation reaches further than the College or even Alberta for that matter,” adds Cullum. “ The UFA Innovation Lab and the Olds College Smart Farm create an open environment for collaboration and research among industry and other post-secondary institutions to work together to advance the agriculture industry. Together we are facilitating engagement to address the issues and challenges facing agriculture, in order for our ag sector to produce more while using less.”

The signing of the agreement brings together two long-standing advocates with rich agricultural history in the province. Founded as an agricultural co-operative in 1909, UFA works to improve the economic and social well-being of its member-owners and their communities. Olds College opened its doors in 1913 as an educational institution and today is one of Canada’s premier integrated learning and applied research communities specializing in agriculture, horticulture, land and environmental management. Both organizations are excited about this unique partnership and the promise it holds for Alberta’s agriculture industry.

Current Olds College student, Delanie Knull is excited about the investment. “The UFA Innovation Lab and Smart Farm are exciting opportunities for students like me who want to explore technology and try new things. Being able to learn by doing and by experimenting in a hands-on setting is what I’m most excited about. I’m eager to share my ideas and to bring them to life! As an agriculture student, you sometimes wonder what the future of farming looks like. It’s encouraging to know that organizations like UFA place value in investing into my future, which I think looks very bright.”