CFWF established a fund in 2014 with a mission to support professional development for agricultural
journalists and communicators for CFWF members. This the legacy of a lot of hard work by volunteers
and generous contributions by sponsors who, over the years, have enabled CFWF to generate a surplus
from fund-raising activities that can now be used to support professional development activities.


For the purposes of the fund, professional development is an activity that enhances the knowledge of the profession and/or contributes to the development of a person’s professional attributes, abilities and skills. Professional development can be accomplished by participating in activities related to agricultural journalism or communications including research, educational programs, conferences, workshops, exchanges, etc.


Here’s how past recipients have used the CFWF PD Fund:

  • Taking a financial accounting course to enhance skills to better understanding agriculture as a business

  • A study on the communications preferences of British Columbia's dairy farmers

  • Presentation at a conference on plant biotechnology science writing and public communication

  • Participation in the annual congress of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists to develop and report on international perspectives

  • Learning about research methods in agricultural science

  • An exchange tour with Russian dairy reporters visiting Ontario

  • How to better communicate using visual graphics







Guidelines for submissions: Be clear. Be succinct. Be specific.


Applicants must be CFWF members and will be asked for the following information:

  • Professional background

  • History of CFWF membership & involvement

  • Description of the event/activity that requires funding

  • The details of the professional development component, anticipated outcomes

  • Who will benefit from this event/activity, and how?

  • How will the learning from the event/activity be shared, and when?

  • A reference letter (employer, institution, collaborator, sponsor, mentor, etc.) providing support for the application

  • Amount requested along with general financial outline


Points of consideration in awarding a grant will be:

  • The length of time involved with the federation or a regional association;

  • The type of involvement in the federation, a regional association or other volunteer activity related to the profession (excluding simple participation in a national or regional conference, and marketing and communications activities);

  • Applications that aim for a broad application so other members may benefit from the professional development experience;

  • Applications that will generate outcomes valuable to both the applicant and the profession;

  • Applications that develop new knowledge and information for the discipline;

  • Applications that apply concepts or technology in innovative ways;

  • Applications that demonstrate teamwork, particularly across disciplinary lines;

  • Applications that contain an international component;

  • Applications that are linked to an existing professional development plan.


Applications should be submitted online at



  • A total of $5,000 will be available for disbursement in 2019 among all successful applicants;

  • A typical grant could be up to $2,000 per applicant;

  • Applicants are encouraged to seek additional or complementary funding from other sources.




  • Applications will be reviewed and assessed by a panel of three (3) judges appointed by the fund’s Board of Trustees. The panel is chaired by one (1) member from the Board of Trustees who will be supported by one judge each from the east and the west;

    • The judges will assess applications using a pre-set scoring system developed by the Board of Trustees and supplemented by discussion amongst the judges.


  • Applications will be received until June 7, 2019:

    • Decisions will be rendered by the panel of judges by July 5, 2019;

    • Recipients will be asked to report/present their findings/results at the annual national conference or at regional association meetings/events in the coming year.

    • Recipients will normally have to wait two years before applying again to the PDF but the panel of judges will have discretion in this matter with justification;

    • Team applications must have a designated lead person.



2019 Board of Trustees

John Greig, chairperson

Jane Robinson

Ann Cote

*If recipients cannot attend the national conference, to be held in Vancouver, BC from September 26 – 28, 2019, arrangements can be made for an online webinar or video conference presentation afterwards.

2018 CFWF Professional Development Fund Recipients


"Motor Rally with Russian Dairy Farmers”
Suzanne Atkinson


Suzanne has been a regular contributor to Ontario Farmer Publications for 24 years, covering all aspects
of agricultural news in central Ontario. Previously she spent 10 years as an editor at a now defunct,
small town daily. With her husband and son, she is also a full time dairy farmer at Rainbowsend, a
40‐cow purebred Holstein operation. She has been an active CFWF member for about 17 years and was
an ECFWA organizer of the 2007 CFWF conference in Prince Edward County. She subsequently hosted
representatives of 21 countries on the Lake Ontario tour during the 2011 IFAJ Congress.

As a result of the 2017 activity with a Russian journalist, 50 Russian dairy farmers and processors will
visit Canada to participate in a 1,250 kilometre car rally. The event begins in Montreal and wraps up in
Niagara Falls. "Motor Rally," an event staged annually in Russia by the on-line publication The Dairy
News, will visit dairy (goat and bovine) farms in Quebec and Ontario as well as manufacturing facilities,
and cheese factories. The group will also attend the annual Durham "twilight meeting," near
Bowmanville. Motor Rally is co‐hosted by Leading Livestock Genetics and the City of Kawartha Lakes.
The learning will be shared through the publishing of articles, social media and through ECFWA and
CFWF newsletter and events. Additionally, CFWF was listed as a sponsor on event publicity.


"AranLife Project”

Angela Lovell


Angela has been a professional freelance writer for more than 25 years, writing primarily for Canadian
and international agricultural print and online media. Publications include Grainews, Country Guide,
Manitoba Co‑operator, Canadian Cattleman, Western Producer, as well as organizational newsletters
such as Manitoba Beef Producers, Keystone Agricultural Producers and the Manitoba Forage & Grasslands Association. She is a past winner of the Canadian Farm Writers Federation Gold Monthly
Press Reporting – Jack Cram Award in 2015 and the Silver Press Feature – Dick Beamish Award in 2016
and was sponsorship chair of the Manitoba Farm Women’s Conference for six years.


Angela will explore the challenge of sustaining food production in a changing environment through a
tour and conference at the AranLife Project in Ireland. She will provide insights into this High Nature
Value farming system that recognizes culture, ecology, environmental adaptation and eco‑tourism as
essential elements to the continued sustainability and viability of food production, farm life and rural
communities within its unique geography. She will collect content for articles about sustainable farming
systems that incorporate production, environmental conservation and eco‑tourism to bring back to a
Canadian audience, as well as producing videos to offer for publication to online and social media.


"Global Food Innovation Summit”
Lilian Schaer


Lilian has been a member of Eastern Canada Farm Writers’ Association since the early 2000s, joining the
board as a director in 2003 and serving as president from 2005 to 2008. She was an ECFWA rep to the
CFWF board in 2009‑10 before stepping down to concentrate on her role as co‑chair of the 2011
Canadian IFAJ congress. After that congress, she was part of the Legacy Fund committee that helped
determine how to manage proceeds of the event. Lilian has attended IFAJ congresses since 2007 and
was a 2010 Alltech Young Leader, received an IFAJ gold medal in 2011 for my role in congress
organization, and have won numerous CFWF writing awards.

Lilian will attend the 2018 Global Food Innovation Summit in Milan, Italy with an interest in topics at the
conference such as innovation and new technology, artificial intelligence, block chain, automation, and
genomics/genetics as well as issues related to food waste and food security. She aims to get a broader,
more international perspective on these topics and learn about the latest trends and innovations from
global leaders active in this space. She will write news articles about the conference as well as using the
information as background for future stories and industry innovation projects and programs. Lilian will
share the information on social media as well as make presentations as requested.






“Communications preferences of British Columbia's dairy farmers”

Trevor Hargreaves


Trevor Hargreaves, BCFWA member, works for the BC Dairy Association as the Managing Editor of the BC Dairy Producer News. For the past year and a half he has been working on an agricultural specific thesis as a completion requirement for a Masters Degree in Communications at Royal Roads University. This thesis is focused on the communications preferences of British Columbia's dairy farmers.

This study is of direct relevance to CFWF due to the agricultural content, but more specifically because of the interesting findings that differ significantly from oft-preached communications industry developments. Specifically, the findings show a very high reliance on traditional print formats, and far less desire to read information digitally. This research provides strong support for traditional newsprint as a method to reach this sector of the agricultural community, and provides an argument for maintaining traditional journalism in the agricultural sector. He will publish findings in BC Dairy Producer News, related agricultural press (Holstein News/Country Life News), general media (including a press release and PR campaign around the findings), communications conferences, and dairy scientific publications.


"Plant Biotechnology Science Writing and Public Communication"

Owen Roberts


Owen Roberts, ECFWA member and vice-president of IFAJ, has been a journalist and columnist with daily, weekly and monthly print and online media for 35 years. He is also an agricultural communications instructor and a research communications director at the University of Guelph.

He has been invited as the sole Canadian communications representative to make a presentation on "Plant Biotechnology Science Writing and Public Communication" at the international University-Industry Consortium conference in Yuma, Arizona in March, 2015. He will be one of four speakers on communications; he will bring the Canadian perspective, based largely on what he knows as an active farm journalist and as the originator and coordinator of a unique student-based program at Guelph that promotes a greater understanding of agricultural research. He anticipates this will enlighten others from agricultural universities and industry about how they too can work cooperatively to involve young people in plant biotechnology communication in Canada. He will be able to prepare stories and columns from the material he collects at this conference, to present at a CFWF annual conference and at classes at the University of Guelph.


“IFAJ 2015 New Zealand”

David Schmidt


David Schmidt, BCFWA member, is currently associate editor of Country Life in BC and a freelancer for various other publications. He will be attending the 2015 IFAJ conference in New Zealand. As a supply management and dairy specialist he believes the opportunity to learn more about the "free market" dairy industry in New Zealand would be very helpful and the insights he would gain into agriculture on the opposite side of the world would also benefit his overall expertise.

CFWF members will benefit as they will have another liaison attending the conference, as well David will post articles for Country Life in BC and other interested publications. He will also provide a full report to the Farm Journalist and a presentation at a CFWF conference.


“Developing an International Perspective for Improving Agricultural Communications”

Shannon VanRaes


Shannon VanRaes writes for the Manitoba Co-operator covering issues ranging from animal husbandry and agronomy to farm policy, research, transportation and trade. In 2014, she was named the Glenn Cunningham Agriculture Journalist of the Year by the North American Agricultural Journalists.

To complement her 2015 participation in the IFAJ Exposure-4-Development tour to Zambia, Shannon will be attending the IFAJ 2015 Congress in New Zealand to further develop her craft by meeting new writers and gaining fresh insights since agriculture is viewed and covered differently across the globe. She will share her learnings in real time via social media and reflect on her experiences through articles in the Manitoba Co-operator, Metro News and broadcasts from CJOB Radio in Winnipeg. She will also be presenting to the Manitoba Farm Writers and Broadcasters Association and the Commonwealth Journalists Association, as well as making a presentation to CFWF members via webinar and/or at the 2016 CFWF conference, which will be held in Saskatoon.


“Implications of the Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement on the Canadian dairy industry”

Lorne McClinton


Lorne has been working as a journalist and photojournalist for over 30 years, specializing in agriculture journalism since 1995. He will be examining the implications of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement on the Canadian dairy industry given the significant changes that such an agreement would bring to the tariff-protected supply management system currently in place. He will be travelling to New Zealand and California to learn how the dairy industry operates in these areas and to examine whether it is even possible for Canadian dairy farmers to compete in a global free market system like New Zealand does and whether there are other support programs, such as those offered in the U.S. that might act as a substitute.

Lorne will publish his findings as articles in the agriculture press and mainstream business publications to provide greater insight to producers in Canada's supply managed sectors on what type of regulatory environment they might have to operate in, in the future. He will also provide useful information to consumers and to investors active in Canada's food industry. In addition, he will make a presentation to CFWF members via webinar and/or at the 2016 CFWF conference, which will be held in Saskatoon.



"Enhancing skills for better understanding agriculture as a business"

Gord Gilmour


Gord is an associate editor with Country Guide magazine, and was previously a reporter with the Manitoba Co-operator and communications consultant with the Canadian Wheat Board. He has been a member of the Canadian Farm Writers' Federation for nearly 20 years and has been involved in organizing three CFWF annual conferences. He grew up working on a family farm in northeastern Saskatchewan.


He is currently studying business administration at Red River College with the aim of improving his theoretical grounding in all aspects of business given the extensive coverage he has to provide of ‘agriculture as a business’. He plans to take courses in financial accounting, statistics, business law and human resources management amongst other relevant topics so that his writing will reflect a greater understanding of business fundamentals and provide readers with better information on which to base their business decisions. To share the learning from this activity he will contribute two feature-length articles on my professional development activities to the Farm Journalist over the next 12 months. He will also make himself available to the organizers of the upcoming CFWF conference and leadership of the MFWBA for opportunities to make a presentation or participate in a webinar.


"Learning Research Methods in Agricultural Science”

Karen Dallimore


As owner of Words For Hire, Karen has been a fulltime freelance writer for agriculture and equiculture since 2002. She counts over 50 publications as her clients, providing copy, photography, and one commissioned book. In 2006, she was a finalist for a Kenneth R. Wilson Award for Best Agricultural Article; she received the CFWF Q.H. Martinson bronze award for Weekly Press Reporting in 2012 and another CFWF bronze in 2016 for photography. Known as ‘the idea person’, she served 11 years on the ECFWA board as director and VP and as editor of The Nib, the ECFWA newsletter, and two years as regional representative on the CFWF board.  

Karen has enrolled in a course at the University of Guelph entitled “Research Methods in Agricultural Science” to enhance her understanding of research principles and processes that will allow her to analyze and disseminate relevant research results to readers, combining good science with her writing talents to provide interesting articles. She hopes to gain a stronger foundation in critical thinking, experimental design and data analysis that will allow her to assess and report the value of research projects. Karen plans to share her knowledge through CFWF presentations, a webinar or articles and is interested in speaking to students about the role of mainstream media in science.


"Exchange Tour with Russian Dairy News”

Suzanne Atkinson


Suzanne has been a regular contributor to Ontario Farmer Publications for 22 years, covering all aspects of agricultural news from Port Perry to Kingston. Previously she was an editor at a community weekly in Cobourg, ON and community editor at the now defunct Cobourg Daily Star. With her husband and son, she is also a full time dairy farmer at Rainbowsend, a 40-cow purebred Holstein operation that crops about 800 acres. She has been an active CFWF member for about 10 years and was a ECFWA organizer of the 2007 CFWF conference in Prince Edward County and, subsequently, hosted one of the tours to the area as part of the 2011 IFAJ Congress.

She has been invited to lead a tour involving the chief editor of the Russian publication Dairy News and other Russian dairy industry professionals. Visits will take place to industry leading dairy farms, Holstein Canada, CDN, CLGA, the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair etc. This opportunity will allow her to build on her CFWF experiences and share her knowledge of the industry while broadening her understanding of the international market place. As a journalist, she will share information with readers at Ontario Farmer and its dairy publications and also contribute to the Russian publication, Dairy News. The learning will be shared through the publishing of articles, social media and through ECFWA and CFWF events.


"Communicating with Visual Graphics”

Karli Reimer


The Manitoba Farm Writers and Broadcasters Association (MFWBA), which formed in 1956, is the regional association representing Manitoba’s agricultural journalists and communicators. MFWBA brings together agricultural media and communications specialists to learn about and debate all aspects of Manitoba agriculture. As a regional chapter of CFWF, they will be organizing a learning event via webinar for MFWBA members, others in the CFWF organization and extend an invitation to other organizations such as Canadian AgriMarketing Association.

In today’s world, many readers want to consume information quickly and look for visual cues to learn more efficiently. As a result, more than ever before, words are being paired with images and graphics to teach, instruct and inform. We are proposing a group professional development session on effective graphic communications. While our organization often hosts “lunch and learn” sessions on local agricultural issues, we have a need to expand our offerings to include professional development sessions that will address new and improved ways of communicating with our audiences. The agriculture communicators in our association would be the primary target, but journalists can also benefit from understanding the importance of visuals and graphics for their readership. The webinar will also be recorded for later viewing.




P.O. Box 250

Ormstown, Que.

J0S 1K0


T: 877-782-6456
F: 877-782-6456

Hugh Maynard

Secretary Treasurer


Alexandra Hayden

Awards Coordinator



Photo Credits: Lisa Guenther, Allison Finnamore

& Johnnie Belinda Cluff