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2019—Lilian Schaer

Article from April 15, 2019:

Freelance agriculture writer Lilian Schaer has been awarded the 2019 Canadian Farm Writers’ Federation (CFWF) International Bursary sponsored by Bayer. Schaer will attend the International Federation of Agriculture Journalists (IFAJ) Congress in Minneapolis this July.

Schaer, based in Guelph, Ontario, writes for agricultural publications across Canada and internationally and works with commodity and agricultural organizations as a communications specialist. She is a past-president of the Eastern Canada Farm Writers’ Association, a former CFWF board member, and served as co-chair of the 2011 IFAJ Congress when it was hosted in Canada.

Schaer has attended every IFAJ Congress since 2007 and believes it is an important professional development and networking opportunity. “IFAJ gives me the opportunity to learn about agriculture in a different part of the world to see how things are different but also to see how we aren’t that different from each other. You see those nuances when you have a chance to meet people and visit their farms, visit the processing facilities, their research stations,” says Schaer. “Over the years you develop relationships with people in all these different countries all over the world. As a freelancer, it has been absolutely invaluable over the course of my career to build this network.”

The bursary will cover up to $2,500 of registration fees and travel expenses. As the bursary winner, Schaer has plans to share her experience with CFWF members through a presentation at the next national conference in B.C., on Twitter, and through Instagram. She also plans to write news articles based on the tour stops and congress program for the various agricultural publications she works for.

“I really commend Bayer for being such a longstanding supporter of Canadian farm writers going to IFAJ. And I’m appreciative of the fact that this year I am the one benefitting from that,” says Schaer.

Bayer’s support of this bursary recognizes the important role journalists and communicators play within the agriculture industry.

“Attending an IFAJ Congress is an excellent opportunity to learn and grow,” says Trish Jordan, public & industry affairs director with Bayer. “Bayer believes that engaging with, and learning from, colleagues and farmers from around the globe broadens the perspective of Canadian agriculture journalists and communicators and ultimately helps them excel at their craft.”

This year’s IFAJ Congress is being held in conjunction with the American Ag Media Summit, providing access to additional skills workshops on writing and photography and a wide-range of tours. “I’m planning to attend the IFAJ post-Congress tour to California,” says Schaer. “It promises to be a deep dive into the production issues they have. I’m really intrigued and interested to see what I can learn there as I do a lot of work in the horticulture sector and California comes up a lot in terms of where our produce comes from, who we compete with, and the issues they have around drought and labour – which are issues we face as well.”

CFWF would like to thank Bayer for continuing to support this bursary. We would also like to thank the 2019 judging panel: Myrna Leader, Clare Stanfield, and John Greig.