IFAJ’s culture is changing — for the better

by Owen Roberts, IFAJ President

If you think IFAJ doesn’t look like it used to, you’re right. It looks better.

IFAJ is experiencing what might be called a culture change. It followed the decision we unanimously took in 2015 at the delegates meeting in New Zealand, to become more global and accept as members agricultural journalists from countries that do not have freedom of the press.

As a result of that decision, we have never experienced anything so big, nor so full of challenges and opportunities.

IFAJ started in 1956 with a handful of guilds. Over six decades, it grew to include 33 guilds. Pretty good!

But since we changed our constitution, we have grown remarkably. At the annual congress in The Netherlands last summer, we admitted our 50th member guild.

That’s 17 new guilds in just three years.

Given those kinds of numbers, it’s not surprising that our culture may be changing. IFAJ is still the dynamic, thriving and unique organization you’ve come to know. Plus now, it’s truly global.

The “new” IFAJ is extending all of our networks into new areas of the globe. It touches people with new insights and perspectives, gives us contacts and opens doors everywhere.

The way the door has swung open in the past three years to all member nations is huge for journalists who write or broadcast about agriculture. Look at the new contacts that we’ve all gained, north, south, east and west. Look at the new potential we have to more completely inform our readers, listeners and viewers about agriculture.

Elsewhere on this website, you will see a recently published list of membership benefits — press cards, press tours, contests, financial grants and guild-building help, among them.

These benefits are the result of opportunities constantly arising from partners and sponsors working with the presidium and global office to fulfill IFAJ’s mandate – youth development, professional development and global outreach.

And it’s worth noting that these many new opportunities will be offered in 2019 for the same membership fee as 2018.

In fact, despite steadily increasing opportunities, programs and benefits to members, the fee hasn’t risen in decades, thanks to sound financial management and oversight, numerous new partnerships, and a vision for the future. The fledgling IFAJ Foundation being created as we speak will take member opportunities to another level yet.

I hope you are as excited as I am about IFAJ’s evolving culture, and about what it means for you. I encourage you to participate in it and grow from it. Access to global colleagues through participation in IFAJ is the biggest member benefit of all.

The participants from the 20 countries represented at the 2018 Bootcamp held in the Netherlands. Made up of the Alltech Young Leaders and the Corteva Master Class, these along with other IFAJ programs, have been at the forefront of culture change emanating from IFAJ’s global, youth and professional development activities. Photo: Steve Werblow