Award winning Grow Our People Unconference set to roll for 2024

Guelph, ON – Agriculture is facing one of its greatest challenges with labour shortages and a pending wave of retirees leaving in the next decade.  The Grow Our People Unconference is designed to help those who work in agriculture and food in Canada – to build new skills, grow deeper networks, and gain a renewed sense of enthusiasm for our agri-food sector.

“We call Grow Our People an ‘unconference’ experience as it’s unlike any other event in agriculture,” shares Brenda Trask, event co-founder. “We created it to bring people together from across sectors with a focus on people and skills, and have some fun at the same time.”

Event organizers Crystal Mackay, Mary Thornley and Brenda Trask came together in 2022 to create this event with the vision for a unique experience to equip people with skills and connections to help grow themselves, their businesses, and the agri-food sector.  They were recognized with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture’s Excellence in Agriculture Award in 2023 for this innovative event experience and their dedication to making it happen.

Dr. Rumeet Billan, Chief Learning Architect for Viewpoint Leadership, will kick off the event the evening of May 28th with her profound keynote on The Science of Trust and Belonging.  The remainder of the event is comprised of interactive workshops focusing on skills such as communications, leadership, advocacy, and human resources.  While these skills are valuable for any human, three streams of sessions will be set up for: individual leaders early in their career, people who manage people, and board members. 

The spirit of the event, to elevate people in agriculture and celebrate with good food, comes to life with a very special early bird registration offer.  Everyone who registers before March 1, 2024 will be entered to win a private flight over southwestern Ontario hosted by pilots who also happen to be farmers, along with a $250 gift certificate for dinner. 

The Grow Your People Unconference will be held in-person at the Queen’s Landing vintage hotel in Niagara-on-the-Lake from May 28-30, 2024. Registration for this ‘unconference’ event experience is now open at

Attendees will leave the event with new skills, deeper networks, and a renewed sense of enthusiasm for our agri-food sector.  Register yourself, your board, or your team today. Find out more at

How to get the most from speed networking at CAMA’s Level Up Conference

The opportunity to ‘Level Up’ means participants at CAMA’s Level Up Conference (November 1-2, 2023 in Winnipeg, MB) can challenge themselves to elevate their confidence, skills and experience to compete and engage with the best in marketing, in agriculture, agr-food and beyond.

What better opportunity for participants to ‘Level Up’ than networking with fellow industry professionals and suppliers? That’s why this year’s event features a novel component – speed networking.

Speed networking provides conference attendees with the opportunity for focused, one-to-one meetings with fellow conference goers. These professional networking sessions can break the ice and serve as the beginning of new connections that can carry on during, and after the event.

By downloading the Whova event app, attendees can view the list of fellow conference participants and suppliers ahead of the event. Attendees can connect through the app ahead of the event and book short introduction meetings. Leveraging the app and list of attendees can help participants plan ahead, while facilitating connection opportunities that could result in meaningful business relationships.

Speed networking events are scheduled within the conference agenda. Attendees can schedule networking directly into their own customizable conference schedule on the app, keeping all the contact info in one place.

The best way to prepare for speed networking is by reviewing the list of conference attendees, identifying people to connect with or gaps in their business network they would like to fill or expand. Local suppliers will also be participating, providing a new way to source marketing and communications business connections. Once a meeting has been scheduled, participants should plan ahead, making a list of questions to help guide the conversation to get the most out of the short meeting time.

Follow up is key to get the most out of the conference speed networking events. It’s also essential for building business relationships. The Level Up Conference event app can help with that too. Attendees will have access to fellow conference participant contact information, allowing them to follow up immediately after the conference to maintain connections and relationships.

CAMA is committed to providing opportunities for members to connect, inspire, share skills and experience personal growth. This new approach to professional (speed) networking will foster new connections, synergies and collaboration across the entire agri-food industry.

Have you registered for CAMA’s Level Up Conference? Click here for all the details.

Level Up with CAMA’s incredible speaker line-up

Packed with networking, personal and professional development opportunities, CAMA’s Level Up Conference (November 1-2, 2023 in Winnipeg, MB) promises to be the premier agri-food industry event this year.

Our line-up of inspiring and innovative influential speakers is guaranteed to be a conference highlight.

Here’s a look at our November 2, 2023 keynote speaker line-up:


Shane Thomas – The Age of Marketing Enlightenment in Agriculture
Agribusiness Analyst and Founder of Upstream Ag Insights

Learn how the role of marketing is changing in a rapidly transforming industry, what’s working now and what marketing will look like in the future.

Passionate about the success of farmers and understanding how the industry works – from technology and business strategy to how collaborations work – Shane will leave conference attendees with a new context for thinking about marketing, considerations for marketing new technology and new mediums to tap into to get more out of every marketing dollar spent.

Focusing on the evolution of marketing – what’s changed and what hasn’t – Shane will share useful insights about what to watch for and how to stay ahead of the agribusiness, food and marketing curve.


Kristjan Hebert – The Art of What’s Possible – The Communications Strategy That Took a Farmer to the
Halls of Government
Hebert Grain Ventures, Saskatchewan farmer and EY Entrepreneur of the Year 2022 Prairie winner

Understand how influencers today are transforming the agriculture and agri-food industry. A farmer, visionary and champion of all things agriculture and food, Kristjan will discuss how the diversity of our sector offers new opportunities to share stories, experiences and customer journeys at every step of the value chain. He’ll focus on how conference attendees can leverage this information to influence industry growth and sustainability. Kristjan will highlight the importance of working together to drive progress.


Members of the Hebert Group public relations team, Jamie Anne Vaughan and Michelle Schurman will also share their strategic approach and experiences working with Kristjan.


Jed Schneiderman – The Acceleration of Marketing Technology and its Effect on Relationship Marketing
Head of Advertising, Kijiji

With AI technology rapidly emerging and over 8,000 marketing platforms now available, what will relationship marketing look like in the future? When it’s hard to keep up with the fast pace of media and marketing changes, Jed is able to cut through the clutter and noise to know what is relevant for audiences. A mobile marketing specialist, Jed will talk about changes in marketing technology and its effect on relationship marketing and leave conference attendees with clear, tangible tips on how to improve relationship marketing.

Can’t wait to learn from these amazing speakers? Sign up for CAMA’s Level Up Conference here. Don’t wait, early bird registration closes August 31, 2023.

Are you ready to Level Up?

CAMA’s Level Up Conference is an opportunity for marketers to accelerate their skills to keep pace with new and emerging technology, channels and trends. The agenda and activities are planned to offer conference attendees experiences that will challenge their thinking, learn something new about the agri-food industry, marketing and communications, develop personal and professional skills, and make lasting professional connections.

This event – November 1-2, 2023 at the Fairmont in Winnipeg, MB – is the only conference dedicated to Canadian agriculture and food marketing and communications professionals. The conference is designed to accelerate marketing skills to advance Canada’s agri-food sector as a global leader.

So, what can you expect from CAMA’s Level Up Conference?

Experiential learning

Go behind the scenes on a walking tour to learn about thriving agri-food businesses in Winnipeg’s downtown core. Tour stops are still being finalized, but this tour will offer conference attendees the chance to hear from top food experts, business and restaurant owners. Together, we’ll learn about their food chain experiences, what it takes to be successful, obstacles they’ve had to overcome and lessons they’ve learned along the way.


Starting with CAMA’s Modified Manitoba social to kick off the event, attendees will have a chance to mingle, catch up and meet new friends. Speed networking sessions will also be featured throughout the event, providing participants with a formal opportunity to connect on a professional level.

Every CAMA event is created for our members. And what better way to support members than by connecting everyone to strengthen industry relationships!

Inspirational and influential speakers

Have you seen CAMA’s can’t-miss keynote speaker lineup?

Shane ThomasThe Age of Marketing Enlightenment in Agriculture

Agribusiness Analyst and Founder of Upstream Ag Insights

Kristjan HebertThe Art of What’s Possible – The Communications Strategy That Took a Farmer to the
Halls of Government

Hebert Grain Ventures, farmer and EY Entrepreneur of the Year 2022 Prairie winner

 Jed SchneidermanThe Acceleration of Marketing Technology and its Effect on Relationship Marketing

Digital marketing expert 

Read more about these speakers and what you’ll learn from their presentations here.

A celebration of agri-food marketing success

A highlight of the year for every CAMA member, the Level Up Conference will wrap up with Best of CAMA. The Canadian agri-food marketing industry’s annual showcase of creativity, marketing and communications expertise, Best of CAMA is our industry’s ‘Academy of Awards’ where we present awards to our peers for their effort and ability in marketing and communications. Don’t miss this opportunity to see the best in Canadian agri-food marketing and communications!

CAMA’s Level Up Conference supports our members and Canada’s agri-food industry. By offering the latest professional development, learning and networking opportunities, we are investing in the strength and success of our sector’s agri-food marketing professionals.

Don’t miss out on your opportunity to Level Up – click here for registration details.


The Power Of Print: Why Traditional Advertising Methods Still Have Their Place in the Digital Age

Blog Written by:  Linda Parry, Director, Client Services with Bark Communications.

Linda is our Director of Client Services, but that doesn’t come close to describing all her skills. Besides having client responsibility, Linda is the go-to person when buying media or needing to get something produced.

I started my career working in the marketing department of a large financial institution, and I’ve witnessed the remarkable development from paper-based couriers to digital workflows over broadband. It’s amazing how quickly technology has transformed our daily lives and operations — what used to take days now happens in minutes, even seconds!

As technologies have evolved over the years, so has advertising. I experienced this firsthand growing up in an era when print, radio and TV were our main forms of advertising. I watched the rise of direct mail and its targeted messages, hoping for a 2% response rate. Fast-forward to today and the leaps seem exponential, as AI begins ushering us into a new era of marketing and communications.  

Despite the big leaps in advertising technology, there are still those unique instances when more traditional mediums, like print, can make all the difference. When I work with clients who focus primarily on digital marketing, I often remind them that traditional, tried-and-true methods of marketing can be necessary and advantageous to their goals.  

So let me go down memory lane and reminisce about one of these long-forgotten advertising mediums. But before I do, let me just say that before creating any marketing material or spending a cent on ad spend, you still need to fully understand your product and your market. Knowing the ins and outs of what you’re offering and who’s buying it is key.  

Print media is indispensable.

Print media is still an essential avenue for reaching target audiences. Having your brand represented in high-value publications, newsletters and magazines not only gives your brand exposure but positions you as an expert in your field. Incorporating the same look-and-feel your brand carries on its digital platforms to your print media will ensure your brand remains unified, and QR codes in print ads provide readers with an easy way to respond to a call to action.  

Direct mail is as important as ever.

Twenty years ago, direct mail was commonplace. Everyone was doing it. And while email marketing has become the norm, the beauty of direct mail is the opportunity it creates for brands to generate leads, build awareness and provide their audience with personalized communication.

The trick to being an effective mailbox-marketer? Make sure your creative stands out from everything else in the mailbox! Be clever when writing your headlines and teasers, just as you would with an email subject line. Every time you send something out, provide your audience with something useful and interesting that solves a problem they might be experiencing. Let them know your communication is always worth opening.

While the advantages of digital marketing are undeniable, supporting those efforts with print is essential. The key is knowing when, where and how to use it to maximize results. If we can put our expertise to work helping you do that, let us know.



Agri-food Professionals invited to ‘level up’ at inaugural marcomms event in November

Agri-food industry professionals are invited to take their networking and professional development to the next level at the Level Up Conference in Winnipeg, Man. November 1-2, 2023. Hosted by the Canadian Agri-Food Marketers Alliance (CAMA), this premier event features interactive learning, engaging, networking, and industry recognition of the best in agriculture, food and ag-tech.

“CAMA’s Level Up is an opportunity for marketers to accelerate their skills to keep pace with one of the best in the world agri-food sectors,” says Susan Groeneveld, conference chair. “No one person or company is an expert in this ever-changing landscape of new technologies and marketing channels, so why not bring everyone together for an exclusive opportunity to reach the next level? This is a best-in-class event that will inspire attendees to level up every aspect of their professional goals, networks, and achievements.”

This year’s Level Up Conference is designed to add immediate value for marcomms professionals, accelerating their professional development, networks and marketing investments. The inaugural event features a dynamic speaker lineup including thought leadership innovators like Shane Thomas, author of UpStream, one of Canada’s largest primary agriculture influencers, Kristjan Hebert of Hebert Grain Ventures, a farmer, farm consultant and EY Entrepreneur of the Year 2022, plus Jed Schneiderman, a sought-after digital marketing expert and Country Manager for Jebbit. Formalized networking is a part of the conference design, and Level Up attendees will have opportunities to engage with partners, clients and vendors during one-on-one settings throughout the event. A CAMA student case competition will round out the event, providing participants with opportunities to learn from the next generation of marketers. CAMA’s annual Best of CAMA awards gala will also be hosted in conjunction with the event.

The conference will be held at the Fairmont Winnipeg from November 1-2, 2023.

“The CAMA Level Up Conference 2023 presents a unique opportunity for those involved in agri-food, ag-tech, and marcomms,” says Groeneveld. “CAMA is our industry’s professional organization that can help everyone keep informed and stay ahead of trends, opportunities and what’s coming next, to help propel us all further and faster. And that’s what the Level Up Conference is all about.”

Level Up Conference sponsorship, registration and hotel information is available here.

New Grow Our People Summit billed as the “unconference” experience to connect people in agriculture and food

The partners in a new event-experience truly believe that by investing in people, we will elevate the whole agri-food sector for the future. The Grow Your People Summit will be hosted in-person in Niagara Falls from November 2-4, 2022.

People are at the heart of Canada’s food system and should be valued as the most important asset in any business. The new Grow Our People Summit was created specifically for people who work in agriculture and food to help them build business and leadership skills, while making new connections and having some fun along the way.

How is it an ‘unconference’ experience? 

The Grow Our People Summit is not a spectator sport. This ‘unconference’ experience will include galas, bus trips, and 12 skills-based workshop opportunities offered by leading non-profit partners. Leadership lessons with a little Disney magic will serve as the call to action in an inspiring keynote, “Be the hero in your own story” by Dr. Jeffrey Barnes.

Breaking through silos    

One of the Summit objectives is to take networking and connections to the next level – across typical sector divides. This starts fundamentally with Summit founding partners and sponsors and continues with every attendee. For example, attendees will choose who they would like to meet and discuss interesting topics with at the ‘Meet the Character’ Power Lunch.

To take it to the next level and maximize travel value, the Summit is built around the Best of CAMA agri-food marketing awards gala, the 100th Anniversary of the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair and the Canadian Agricultural Hall of Fame induction ceremony all happening the same week.

The goal is for all Summit attendees to leave with new skills, deeper networks, and a renewed sense of enthusiasm and connection with our agri-food sector. Register yourself, your teams, your customers, your leaders, and future leaders today. It’s always a great time to invest in people, including yourself!

Register and find out more today by visiting

Article provided by Crystal Mackay.

What makes a great Best of CAMA entry submission?

Over the past year, you’ve put everything you’ve got into creating the best campaigns, writing, ads, posts and creative for your company and clients. Now it’s your turn to shine at the Best of CAMA Gala Awards.

Here are our top tips to help make your category entry submissions stand out:

  1. Review the entry form. Each category entry form is made up of three sections and criteria for judging: planning & development, executive and results. The weighting varies depending on each category, so be sure to read the category entry form before entering your submission and make your entry form count!
  2. New judging rubrics for 2022. New this year, CAMA has updated and improved the judging rubrics. All categories have been grouped into three areas: strategic, creative and digital. Each of the three new sections of the entry form are weighted differently for each category, so be sure to review the new judging criteria rubric before completing your entry form.
  3. Make the entry form count. Best of CAMA brings out everyone’s BEST, including the amazing creative we all see at the Awards Gala, but remember judging is also based on your entry form and the three criteria categories: planning & development, executive and results. Amazing creative is only one piece of the entry, and if important information is missing from the entry form, you risk a lower score.
  4. Submit your best. We get it, filling out CAMA entry forms may not be your top priority, and sometimes it makes sense to assign the task to a junior or someone with a little more time to write the entries. But remember, your entry form is a reflection of yourself and your company, so make sure it meets your highest quality standards by proofing for completion and accuracy before submitting.
  5. Have fun. Best of CAMA is meant to be a celebration of our industry’s achievements. The categories are meant to get you thinking about all the work you’ve completed in the past year and to submit the work you’re most proud of for healthy competition. We can’t wait to see all your submissions and celebrate your successes with you at the Awards Gala.

Don’t miss the Best of CAMA award entry deadline: Thursday, September 22, 2022, at 5 PM EDT

A note to Best of CAMA judges. First, thank you to everyone who has volunteered to judge the 2022 Best of CAMA awards. Your time is valuable and we appreciate your commitment to our industry. Please remember, you may be required to judge work submitted by a competitor, we’re a relatively small industry after all. So, let’s keep it professional and remember to leave your biases at the door.

Good luck to all CAMA members as you complete your Best of CAMA 2022 entry forms. And we can’t wait to see you in person at the Best of CAMA Awards Gala November 3, 2022 in Niagara Falls, ON.

Submitted by Jeanine Moyer, Barn Door Communications

CAMA Mentorship Program – Why I Joined The Program

Not so long ago, my understanding of agriculture only extended as far as Ashton Kutcher and The Ranch.

I’ve worked as a marketing professional for years, but I recently moved to a company whose clients are primarily ag-based, and realised that I knew nothing about the market. Growers and ranchers inhabit such a niche space that I couldn’t even guess at their motivations. I joined the company in a performance role, and I was worried that I didn’t understand enough to offer valuable insights.

I signed up for the CAMA Mentorship program after a company-wide recommendation from our CEO. The intake survey was thorough, but not too long, and it obviously did the trick – I was paired with Tom, a mentor who helped me set an excellent foundation of understanding in ag marketing.  

My objective was to learn more about the market, and I wondered if it was too broad for the program, but the guidelines were a big help. Tom and I set out on our journey strategically, identifying specific goals and formulating strategies to attain them.

I enjoyed my regular catchups with Tom, who had a wealth of knowledge to share. I feel lucky – he is a former professor, and delivered information in a way that was relevant and engaging. Tom also reached out to his network to help me in any areas where he thought an additional level of expertise could help.

While ag is still a new space for me, I feel more confident in my knowledge of the market thanks to my mentorship with Tom. I understand what questions to ask, and where I can find the answers.

By: Emma, CAMA Mentorship Program Mentee

Start Less, Stop More

Societies around the world have long viewed the start of a New Year as a time for transformation. A time to reflect on what is and what could be, and intentionally start living the latter. Unfortunately, statistics don’t paint a pretty picture for the success of these endeavours as a staggering 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail*.

While research suggests that this rate of failure is attributable to many factors, from setting unrealistic goals to having unrealistic expectations, one of the main issues I’ve seen with this practice is prioritization (or lack thereof). As someone who has been an avid Gym-goer for decades, I inevitably see the influx of new members every year in January, only to see these numbers dwindle to a select few by the time spring hits. And the biggest reason for this, based on the many conversations I’ve had, is time management. 

More specifically, most new members under-estimate the time commitment required to exercise frequently and simply tried to fit it into their existing schedules without giving anything up. And there’s the crux of the matter. Trying to do more without committing to less.

As agri-marketers, we fall into this trap all the time. Especially as new technologies, techniques and innovations permeate our world and demand time and budget that may already be spread too thin. Like the New Year’s resolutionists, we simply tack on more without taking a hard look at what we should be doing less.

While I’ve long since forgotten the book and author that the statement came from, I have always loved the concept of “for every new thing you do, try doing two less”. This extreme commitment to prioritization has shaped my efforts in both expected and unexpected ways and could do the same for you.

Firstly, by forcing yourself to commit to abandoning certain efforts every time you bring on a new one, you will become much more selective in determining which “new things” you can and should try. This will help force you out of the habit of trying things without proper due diligence on their feasibility and desired/expected impact.

Secondly, by having to commit to abandoning existing efforts when you want to bring on new ones, you will become much more diligent in the discipline of performance measurement. For example, if you do commit to stopping two existing efforts for every one new one you bring on, you’ll want to know which existing efforts are and aren’t performing as desired so that you don’t abandon something that’s working and/or keep something that isn’t.

And lastly, given both of the above, you may find as I have that you will become much better at saying no in general. That by taking a more critical and intentional approach to prioritizing your efforts, you will more naturally avoid unnecessary commitments and give up less of your time than you once did. As Steve Jobs once said “I’m actually as proud of the things I haven’t done as the things I have done. Focusing is about saying no.”.  

So, as you start a New Year of agri-marketing endeavours, I wish you the greatest success, and more importantly, hope that it comes through less time and less effort than it did last year.

David Lazarenko,
Partner/Group Account Director, Think Shift