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IFAJ Task Force

Seven agricultural journalists spanning the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists’ (IFAJ) major membership regions are working together as a task force to make recommendations for education, training and professional development programs for the federation. 

The group’s first action is to create a needs assessment survey, which will be distributed to IFAJ members in the next several weeks.  

The assessment will be key to informing the task force’s recommendations; an update will be available at the IFAJ annual congress in August, according to IFAJ past-president Owen Roberts, chair of the IFAJ Task Force on Education, Training and Professional Development. 

IFAJ President Lena Johansson says the task force is an important initiative for IFAJ and its members. 

“Professional development goes to the heart of IFAJ’s mission, and this initiative is an opportunity to raise the bar on the organization’s commitment in this regard,” she says. “By providing member guilds with well-designed training materials, agricultural journalists and communicators will be able to advance their skills and receive recognition for doing so.”

Roberts brings his experience as a communications instructor and faculty member in the Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communications program at the University of Illinois to the role, as well as his insights as an active journalist and as one of the architects of IFAJ’s global growth through the past decade.

“I appreciate the opportunity to work with such a diverse and committed team of IFAJ members who bring their region’s needs to the table, to help design a plan that we can recommend to the federation,” says Roberts. “Members have continually cited professional development as one of IFAJ’s key membership benefits, and the organization has implemented several superb programs in response. I expect our task force’s recommendations to focus on strengthening IFAJ’s successes and to suggest new possibilities for the federation to consider.”    

IFAJ global manager Hugh Maynard will provide administrative guidance to the task force, and secretary general Addy Rossi from Argentina will be the task force’s liaison with the presidium. 

The task force’s regional members are:

  • Farah Atyyat from Jordan, who has worked since 2004 in the Al-Ghad Daily Newspaper covering the Ministry of Environment and Municipal Affairs. 
  • Ed Cassavoy, head of content partnerships for The Toronto Star, Canada’s largest newspaper. 
  • Aghan Daniel, the Chief Executive Officer at the Media for Environment, Science, Health and Agriculture (MESHA), a Kenya-based and registered association of science journalists and communicators. 
  • Northern Ireland-based journalist Rachel Martin, chair the Irish Guild of Agricultural Journalists’ northern section and reporter for the digital farming news publisher Agriland Media. 
  • Sam Townsend, a senior writer for The Land, Australia’s largest agricultural newspaper.