#FarmVoices 2015

Are you a Farmer? (If you drive large equipment in the field or if you plant a small garden at your city home be proud to call yourself a farmer!)

Are you involved in our Global Agricultural Industry? (The reality is that we are all involved in agriculture because we are all consumers… and the things that we consume all started with the germination of a small seed that grew in an environment that was cared by those we call farmers.)

I’m passionate about my rural roots and many of you know that. I am particularly passionate about sharing my enthusiasm to motivate the people around me. I believe that we thrive as individuals when we contribute to a cause, all while learning more about our society in the process.

I’ve recently been asked by my good friends at FarmOn.com to participate in this years #FarmVoices Movement. I must say that the video we created is powerful and such a great feature on what it’s like to farm in the middle of winter in Western Canada!

“The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision.” Neil Gaiman

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One of the most heartfelt experiences that I had was when friends told me that it was because of our story and the things that I said that inspired them to change their life. Appreciation goes a long way and in order to truly appreciate we must open our eyes, ears and hearts. So for those who live with a daily sense of appreciation better themselves and the society they live in because they recognize what it means to be selfless and mindful. Happiness is contagious. Open yourself to sharing your passions and you may be surprised at how many want to join you!

Earth Day is on April 22nd and I encourage everyone to share their #FarmVoices. Post a comment or photo on what farming means to you, your favourite memory on the farm or what your most excited to grow this year! The ideas are endless.

Stay tuned as I’ll be posting on social media from Argentina!  Léona

Kind Words From A Stranger

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Today, I experienced a pleasantly surprising encounter with a stranger and it made me think. When was the last time you approached someone you didn’t know to tell them they have a nice smile or that you liked their shoes?

Earlier this afternoon, as Pepere and I stopped at a Flying J in Montana on our road trip home from Phoenix, a young man put his hand on my shoulder and told me “I just had to come tell you that you are gorgeous!”
I thanked him while immediately feeling flabbergasted. I wasn’t wearing any makeup, my hair was in a simple side braid and I thought to myself ‘Wow, what a kind compliment in exchange for a simple smile.’

“We may never know all the good a simple smile can do.” Mother Theresa

Of course this random act of kindness made my day and will be a memory that will boost my confidence every time I replay the moment in my mind. So how about a challenge for you? Let’s all make a conscious effort to interact with each other more. You can start with a simple smile and then perhaps gain the courage to approach a complete stranger and tell them something that will surprise them (in a good way), make them laugh or give them a boost of self confidence that may just last a lifetime!

GoodLuck, Leona 🙂

MNP – TransitionSmart™

Fear of change keeps us from planning for the future. So why not embrace it and strive to make the most of every opportunity.          – Leona Dargis

As you may or may not already know I have four beautiful younger sisters and we grew-up on a mixed family farm in Northeastern Alberta. Alongside our beloved parents, we were taught the values of hard work & team work, respect & responsibility, pride & passion and most importantly appreciation. As a result, I take great pride in the work I do and am genuinely happy when quadding on the ranch amongst the cattle or watching the sun set from a combine cab.

When asked by MNP if my sisters and I would be willing to share the story about our parents in video format, I thought to myself “What purpose would it have?” and after thinking about it for a while we agreed to the task. It is my hope that in sharing a part of our story that it helps encourage people to be proactive when it comes to completing their wills and planning their estates. (I must be honest though, I did feel a bit like the Canadian Bachelorette when filming the video with all bright lights, walking around the farm and gazing into the distance.) Enjoy!

MNP Video Collage

MNP provides tailored expertise in accounting, consulting, tax, and a wide range of business advisory services including TransitionSmart™ which offers guidance in succession planning for your family and farm. Feel free to visit their website at www.transitionsmart.ca and Take The Assessment for free online. Over the next couple of months, I will be speaking to MNP clients about our personal story of tragedy. transition and triumph across Western Canada.

When I completed my Nuffield Study on Succession Planning, I learned that one of the biggest challenges that most families face is that they do not communicate with each other as well as they should and were scared of potential conflict/change. A few words of advice; I encourage everyone to reflect on the many things to be grateful for and ask yourself “If I die today, will my family (and farm) be ok tomorrow?” If the answer is no or you’re not sure then now is a good time to start thinking about the “What if…” situations. With Christmas right around the corner, families will reunite and I am certain that having these discussions with your loved ones will be of value. I promise that you will be glad you did because if something were to happen then at least you took the chance to share your wishes and show them your gratitude and love.

To read more about Succession Planning download a copy of my Nuffield Report here.

WeDay Alberta 2013

We are all young at heart and for some of us it shows in the things we choose to do. This year I decided to volunteer at We Day Alberta as a returning Senior Crowd Pumper. What does it mean to be a Crowd Pumper you ask? Well, it is a high energy, over enthusiastic position who’s purpose is to not only to pump up the thousands of youth in the venue through excessive cheering and dancing but also to be a Free The Children (FTC) ambassador. FTC is an international charity and educational partner, working both domestically and internationally to empower and enable youth to be agents of change, co-founded by brothers Marc and Craig Kielburger. Through their holistic and sustainable development model called Adopt a Village, they work to remove barriers to education and to empower communities to break the cycle of poverty. It’s a pretty powerful movement if you ask me and one that I am proud to personally support. Just over a year ago I traveled to Kenya and participated on a Me to We Adult Trip.

Agriculture is my passion and I had the opportunity to share that passion with my new friends from USA, UK and Canada however it was extra special for me to share fundamental knowledge in agricultural production with Kenyans, like Mama Jane. (Read more about Mama Jane in my Nuffield Report.) These less fortunate people appreciate life in ways we often take for granted. That is why I choose to be a part of a cause. A cause like Free The Children and We Day.

“We Day is the movement of our time, empowering a generation of young global citizens through an inspirational event and a year-long educational initiative.”

More than 18,000 youth from across Alberta participated We Day on October 24 at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary. The energetic event included music from award-winning performers and messages from renowned speakers including Nelly Furtado, Martin Luther King III, Naheed Nenshi, the Kenya Boys Choir, Spencer West and Magic Johnson. (All of which are in the photos bellow.)

If you want to be inspired, do something for someone else, volunteer and you may just be surprised at how amazing it feels!

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Sure I may have been the oldest crowd pumper but I can guarantee that I was also the loudest and to quote Kid President “It’s everybody’s duty to give the world a reason to dance.”

We Day is still on tour. Volunteer Here

Fall Fun in the Maritimes

After a busy summer of traveling to 3 different continents and helping out at the farm with an outstanding harvest season, I was eager to start speaking (and blogging) again. Luckily for me I had been asked to travel to the Maritimes and speak at the New Brunswick Association of Fairs & Exhibitions annual general meeting. Upon my arrival, I was greeted by hospitable Canadian friends and I thought to myself that this was going to be a great next few days.

Do you have any childhood memories of going to your local fair or exhibition, maybe competing in a potato sack race or the egg in a spoon relay? Or how about trying to be the first to catch and win the greased pig competition? Ever enter some baking, knitting or art projects?

I was lucky enough to have experienced all of the above back in the day and what I am fond of most is that we had a ton of family fun. Wasn’t it nice that we didn’t have to drive too far or pay too much for a day’s worth of activities? I remember watching my parents compete in a farmer skills competition where among other things, they had to haul bags of wheat onto a pallet and roll a large round straw bale across the finish line. I also remember cheering at the top of my lungs for my parents and their friends Mike & Joanne Richter who competed together on a team.

After speaking at the International Association of Fairs and Expositions (IAFE) convention in Las Vegas last year, Mike Vokey, executive director of the Fredericton Exhibition (FREX) insisted that I share some show inspiration to his colleagues in New Brunswick. I prepared a presentation titled “Empowerment, Engagement & Entrepreneurship within your Local Show Society”. In doing so I reflected on my 7 years of volunteering with the Royal Agricultural Society of the Commonwealth (RASC) and realized how diverse my show experience really was. I have attended agricultural shows around the world from the big city of Sydney, Australia to the rural landscape in India. Throughout this workshop I aimed to share my perspective and experience on: Empowering board members, staff, volunteers and the next generation through active leadership, Engaging community members and visitors through innovative ideas, and Entrepreneurship through building strategic partnerships and global networks. We discussed the challenges and successes of local shows today. I was happy to see the group take notes during our discussion and I encouraged them to welcome fresh ideas and involvement from the next generation. You’ll never know of its successes if you don’t at least try and who knows, maybe the future struggles of attendance or sponsorship will not be so challenging. Later that evening I presented an additional keynote address to inspire, motivate and acknowledge their dedication and hard work in continuing to organize local fairs and exhibition events.

The next day when I was walking along side the St.John River in Fredericton, I thought about how people today are becoming increasingly aware of their purchasing power and are choosing to belong to this ‘local’ movement. I strongly believe that the biggest opportunity for agricultural education and awareness is through something I learned a lot about in Singapore called ‘Agritainment’ which is the opportunity to ‘experience local’. If you’re passionate about rural life then I would encourage you to get involved in your local show society because the reward of sharing your ideas and stories will create an experience and leave an impact on the most unexpected visitor!

Enjoy this little collage of fall photos from beautiful New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island in October 2013. (I hope to come back in summer time one of these years as I discovered that you can stay at West Point Lighthouse Inn AND enjoy a lobster party on the beach! I love it when I find something to add to my Bucket List.)

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Fun in the Maritimes

Best Ugly – Bagels

One of the first things that most flight passengers do once they’ve sat down and buckled themselves in is glance through the in-flight magazine. I was on-board multiple Air New Zealand flights last week and I was continuously drawn to this one page feature on the Best Ugly Bagels, a Montreal-style bagel outlet located in a converted downtown workshop in Auckland. I thought to myself, I gotta check this out!

So here I am, sitting in this trendy yet rustic warehouse baking space where more than a thousand authentic hand-made bagels are made daily. The atmosphere in this place is insane! Classic tunes from the oldies fill the air along with team members continually communicating orders as the line-up of no less then 20 people stays constant. Once your order is ready, your name will be called out and your senses are immediately consumed with the delights found before you.

As I ate my T.A.B (Tomato, Avocado & Basil) on a Sesame Bagel which I deliciously devoured, I witnessed something special. Two young boys were invited behind the counter to help roll a piece of dough into their very own bagels. How cool is that?! Everyone had a smile on their face and looked like they were having fun. (Can you spot them in the photos bellow?)

I admired Best Ugly’s simple yet tasteful menu options and what was even more impressive was their support of kiwi (aka New Zealand) businesses in supplying all the toppings from clover honey to salmon and peanut butter to cream cheese. Everything came from NZ!

I appreciated this mornings venture to not only satisfy my curiosity but to create spontaneous experiences. We only live once, and even if its something you saw in a magazine check it out! I’m glad I did!

http://www.bestugly.co.nz

Best Ugly - Bagels

Changing The World: One Nuffield Report At A Time

It is with tremendous excitement that I present to you my Nuffield Report!

For the past two and a half years I have had the honour of traveling the world, visiting farm families, discussing the future of agriculture, diversification of the farm business and the roles of our Next Generation. After having made new friends, my perspective and understanding has grown. For the past few months I have been working diligently in preparing this report, for you to read and hopefully learn from.

Family farm succession is challenging yet necessary. I’ve written about ‘What makes this Next Generation different from the last?’ ‘Why Succession is do Difficult?’ ‘Understanding each other’s Perspectives’ and ‘Choosing to be Proactive’.

Communication is Key and to Appreciate one another builds Strength.

I would like to specially Thank Nuffield Canada for welcoming me into the Nuffield family. This experience has changed my life.

It is my wish to share stories that inspires you, influences your decisions and challenges your perspective. When living with a positive outlook we empower the people around us, live the life we want and be prepared for when we leave – our legacy.

Click on the links bellow to view my Nuffield Report. I welcome your comments and topics for discussion. Enjoy!

Leona Dargis Nuffield Report 2013

Nuffield Collage

January Jilt

As our Journey Continues in 2013, I thought it would be suiting to feature a few short stories of the amazing things people are doing to ring in the New Year!

A New Year’s Resolution is a commitment that a person makes to one or more personal goals, projects, or the reforming of a habit. The following ideas could be a part of a New Year’s Resolution or maybe a Bucket List. Either way I think it is a great idea to do such wonderful things and as often as we can! Here’s to a January Jilt… Read More

2012 In Review

“OUT with the old and in with the NEW.” Well I guess it could be a little more like, last year was a BLAST but 2013 is going to be TOTALLY WICKED! I am going to share with you my Year In Review which captures only a snapshot of last year’s highlights. Nonetheless, I am and will always be grateful for my life and the people in it!

Read More