by Lena Johansson, Sweden
Arranging an IFAJ Congress can be exhausting, but it’s also encouraging and revitalizing. The 2012 IFAJ Congress held in Sweden brought new life to the national Swedish guild of agriculture journalists.
All the work invested in a Congress is done by a lot of voluntary and enthusiastic people. The Swedish guild has about 100 members; approximately 20 of them were engaged in the Congress. Three of these became new board members last year.
A few years ago the Swedish guild experienced a decline in membership. A group of older gentlemen left without naming successors. Something had to be done to pump new life into the guild. One of the decisions was to apply for the IFAJ Congress. It was a bit of a chance, but it was also a stimulating challenge.
Working with the Congress brought members together and engaged new young journalists. Today some of them are highly engaged in the Guild’s work.
Anna Nilsson, a new member of the board said, “After the congress I became very inspired and full of new ideas that are still keeping me going. I have many new friends around the world and gained better self confidence in my profession. Contacts with other participants have also been very useful in my daily work. By being part of the Swedish congress team, I got into the IFAJ-spirit in a way that I might not have done otherwise.”
IFAJ’s Young Leaders Award and other opportunities for young journalists have also helped attract new members. This time the plan is to create a guild succession plan.