Hebert Grain Ventures launches new scholarship program for Ag students

June 7, 2023, 2:14 pm
Sierra D'Souza Butts

Former students from Olds College of Agriculture & Technology working on a farm as part of their program. Photo credit: Olds College.

On May 30, Hebert Grain Ventures (HGV) announced a new recurring scholarship program for agriculture students attending Olds College of Agriculture & Technology.

In addition to four $1,000 entrance scholarships being awarded this fall, two of the four students will also be selected for a paid summer 2024 internship at HGV’s grain and oilseed farm near Moosomin, Saskatchewan.

Upon completing their internships, both students will have their tuition fees reimbursed up to a maximum of $10,000.

Jeff Warkentin, Chief Operating Officer at HGV, spoke about why HGV decided to launch the new scholarship.

“There’s been lots of headlines lately about the shortage of skilled Ag labour in Canada, and myself and our CFO had been out to Olds College to present to their Ag Tech class,” said Warkentin.

“We also hired a summer student this year from the Agriculture & Technology program at Olds College.

“As the management group, we sat down and brainstormed what we can do to access this talent pool on an ongoing basis, and this is what we came up with.”

According to a report by RBC’s Farmers Wanted, 40 per cent of Canadian farmer operators will retire by 2033, placing the agriculture industry in a precarious state if younger talent fails to step in and fill the void.

Warkentin said the intention for the new scholarship program is to attract agriculture students from all areas, and provide them an opportunity for in-person farming experience.

“Every generation now is another one removed from the farms, we need to pay it forward if we want to access this skilled labour going forward,” said Warkentin.

“Ultimately, our goal is to attract them as a summer student and then hopefully, that will lead to full-time employment down the road as well.

“Through our Deep Roots Foundation we also provide scholarships at the high school to Grade 12s in Moosomin, Maryfield, Wawota, Whitewood, and Redvers for anyone furthering their education in Business or Agri-Business.”

Warkentin explained why HGV decided to partner with Olds College for the newly introduced scholarship program.

“Predominantly because of their Ag Tech program, and because there’s been a tremendous growth in technology within primary Ag,” said Warkentin

“Also, we just thought Olds College Ag Tech program is a great fit with our operation.”

Warkentin said the goal for the new program is to encourage students to come back and work on the farm afterwards.

“I think that Olds College can teach them good theory and we can teach them the practical applications of technology and primary Ag,” said Warkentin.

“It’s a win-win opportunity. They get to practice, they get to see the practical applications of what they’ve learned in primary agriculture.”

In addition to hiring post-secondary students in previous years, HGV has hired, so far, one student for the summer.

“This year’s student has only been with us since the end of April, but he’s been fantastic,” said Warkentin.

“He actually drove one of our drills for us, and at the moment he’s in one of our sprayers learning how to run the sprayer for the summer.

“He’s a very hard worker and willing to learn so it’s been a great experience.”