Agric. En­tre­pre­neur in Res­i­dence (AgENT) pro­gram was pop­u­lar

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - Farm News - BY HEATHER CAMERON — South­ern Al­berta News­pa­pers

45 stu­dents par­tic­i­pated in the in­au­gu­ral year of the Agri­cul­ture En­tre­pre­neur in Res­i­dence (AgENT) pro­gram of­fered by Leth­bridge Col­lege.

“The Agri­cul­ture En­tre­pre­neur in Res­i­dence (AgENT) pro­gram in an ex­tracur­ric­u­lar ex­pe­ri­en­tial learn­ing op­por­tu­nity in which stu­dents learn foun­da­tional skills in both in­no­va­tion and en­trepreneur­ship,” Me­gan Shapka, Man­ager of In­no­va­tion and En­trepreneur­ship Cen­tre for Ap­plied Re­search at Leth­bridge Col­lege, said.

Shapka says that stu­dents from di­verse pro­grams reg­is­tered in this pro­gram to fo­cus on in­dus­try-pro­vided chal­lenges in the agri­cul­ture in­dus­try.

The 45 stu­dents who par­tic­i­pated in the in­au­gu­ral year were pro­vided am­ple op­por­tu­ni­ties to ap­ply skills and knowl­edge to real-world prob­lems.

“These stu­dents came to us from many dis­ci­plines on cam­pus, in­clud­ing agri­cul­ture sci­ence, agri­cul­tural en­ter­prise man­age­ment, gen­eral busi­ness, en­vi­ron­men­tal sci­ence, en­gi­neer­ing tech­nolo­gies and com­puter in­for­ma­tion tech­nolo­gies,” Shapka said. “We en­cour­age multi-dis­ci­plinary project work and col­lab­o­ra­tion in this pro­gram.”

This pro­gram, Shapka says, is com­pletely free to our stu­dents thanks to the phil­an­thropic gift from Cor Van Raay to Leth­bridge Col­lege and dif­fers from a typ­i­cal col­lege pro­gram be­cause it is non-credit ex­tracur­ric­u­lar pro­gram­ming. Shapka says that the stu­dents reg­is­tered in AgENT are par­tic­i­pat­ing above and be­yond di­ploma or de­gree work at the col­lege.

“Rather than host­ing a sin­gle en­tre­pre­neur in res­i­dence on our cam­pus, we elected to host a group of in­dus­try men­tors and guest speak­ers to pro­vide a wide va­ri­ety of per­spec­tives and in­spi­ra­tional sto­ries from lo­cal agri­cul­ture en­trepreneur­s,” Shapka says. “There are sig­nif­i­cant pro­fes­sional net­work­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for both our stu­dents and in­dus­try pro­fes­sion­als in our pro­gram.”

Shapka says the stu­dents al­ready en­rolled at the col­lege reg­is­tered for AgENT in Septem­ber and par­tic­i­pated in work­shops, a guest speaker se­ries, project work, field trips and spe­cial events un­til April.

Stu­dents also com­peted in a pitch com­pe­ti­tion at the end of the se­mes­ter, pre­sent­ing their in­no­va­tive solutions and ideas for in­dus­try-pro­vided chal­lenges back to in­dus­try ex­perts.

Shapka adds that Leth­bridge Col­lege is also a part­ner in the Re­gional In­no­va­tion Net­work of South­ern Al­berta (RINSA), which is funded by a grant from Al­berta In­no­vates.

“AgENT was de­signed with the agri­cul­ture in­dus­try and stu­dent col­lab­o­ra­tion in mind,” We not only are en­cour­ag­ing the stu­dents to de­velop in­no­vate solutions for in­dus­try-pro­vided chal­lenges, but we are also fa­cil­i­tat­ing di­rect con­tact be­tween stu­dents and our in­dus­try part­ners,” Shapka said. “In do­ing so, we are pro­vid­ing them with in­cred­i­ble net­work­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties be­fore they grad­u­ate from Leth­bridge Col­lege. AgENT specif­i­cally is pre­par­ing them to have an en­tre­pre­neur­ial mind­set. In de­vel­op­ing this mind­set, we are giv­ing them agency to cre­ate their own fu­ture as they pre­pare to en­ter a work­force that will re­quire them to con­tin­u­ally rein­vent them­selves.”

For more in­for­ma­tion about the AgENT pro­gram, con­tact Byrne Cook at [email protected]­bridgecol­lege.ca or visit https://leth­bridgecol­lege.ca/de­part­ments/cen­tre­for-ap­plied-re­search-and-in­no­va­tion/agent.

“There has never been a greater need for all lev­els of so­ci­ety to em­ploy the en­tre­pre­neur­ial mind­set. Em­ploy­ing the en­tre­pre­neur­ial mind­set en­cour­ages the ini­ti­a­tion and pur­suit of ideas, multi-dis­ci­plinary col­lab­o­ra­tion, and in­no­va­tive prob­lem-solv­ing and im­ple­men­ta­tion abil­i­ties,” Shapka said. “AgENT’s am­bi­tion is to build aware­ness of the ben­e­fit of par­tic­i­pat­ing in en­tre­pre­neur­ial learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ences to build self-con­fi­dence and self-ef­fi­cacy.”

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