Agric. Entrepreneur in Residence (AgENT) program was popular
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.”