HONORARY LIFE MEMBERS
Dianne Finstad specialized in agriculture and rodeo coverage for decades. She began her career in 1981 at CKRD-TV and Radio in Red Deer, where she worked for 25 years as news anchor and reporter. As RD-TV’s ag director, her coverage was second to none. Her award-winning TV programs “This Business of Farming” and “Makin’ 8” were enjoyed by many western Canadians. After a stint at CKGY-Radio, Dianne ventured out on her own and these days does a wide variety of ag and rodeo communications work, including hosting a program for RFD-TV Canada and the Cowboy Channel Canada called Frontline Farming Canada. Dianne has been a longstanding AFWA supporter and member since 1987, including serving as AFWA president in 2017-18 and taking an active role in AFWA’s activities and ag sector tours. Dianne received the Lethbridge College Distinguished Alumni Award in 1995, was made an honorary member of the Alberta Institute of Agrologists in 1997, and the Alberta Human Ecology and Home Economics Association in 2010. She was the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame Bell Memorial Award recipient in 2018.
Ross began working in what would become a long and storied career in Alberta’s grain industry in September 1963. Starting as an elevator assistant in Lougheed, Ross moved to manage his first elevator at Esther, one of the first of three elevators Alberta Wheat Pool (AWP) built in 1925. He transferred to Wainwright in 1969 and in 1973, was promoted to pool representative in Grande Prairie. Another transfer to Vermilion followed in 1975. In the spring of 1980, Ross joined the AWP head office in Calgary where he was promoted to manager of advertising. It was that year Ross joined the AFWA and went on his very first fall tour. During his time with AWP, Ross managed corporate advertising on television, newspapers and trade shows and became the voice of its daily radio message that aired on 24 radio stations in Alberta and British Columbia. Ross retired from AWP in 1997 after 34 years of service.
Lee Hart is a long-time agricultural writer based in Calgary. He has covered virtually all aspects of the Canadian agriculture industry for more than 35 years. Born and raised in Ontario, his journalism career took him to B.C. in the early 1970s and to Alberta in early 1980s. He recently retired as field editor with Grainews, a Western Canadian-based farm magazine. He also served as editor of the Cattleman's Corner section of the magazine. He remains involved with the agriculture industry with some contract writing.
Terry grew up on a mixed farm in Minitonas, Manitoba, an operation he still runs today in partnership with family. With a bachelor of science in agriculture and holding editorial positions at some of Canada’s leading agriculture publications such as Country Guide and Canadian Cattlemen, Terry became a partner and vice president in Fieldstone Marketing and Public Relations, a heritage company of the advertising and PR firm AdFarm. During his extensive career in agriculture communications and founding Meristem Information Resources in 1992, Terry has worked with many of Western Canada’s farm organizations, companies and government departments. Terry has been a longstanding AFWA supporter and member for more than 40 years and has taken an active role in AFWA’s development. He has provided good counsel and guidance to the AFWA and the CFWF and its governance facilitation, activities and initiatives for four decades. Terry announced his retirement in early 2023.
Upon graduation from the University of Alberta in 1970, Jack joined the Alberta Agriculture department as a district agriculturist in training, stationed at Ponoka. He was there only six months when the position of radio farm commentator with the department came open. This involved hosting and producing the department’s daily radio broadcast “Call of the Land.” Having a keen interest in radio since he was a young child, Jack applied and, much to his surprise, got the job. He started near the end of October 1970 and continued in the position until retirement in June 2006. It was a job that involved publicizing the agriculture department’s programs and policies as well as happenings in the provincial agriculture industry. “It was a very satisfying career,” said Jack.
A graduate of Mount Royal University with a degree in journalism, Janet has held journalist and editor positions at publications New AG International, Alberta Seed Guide, Top Crop Manager and Alberta Farmer Express, operated stakeholder communications at the Beef Information Centre and managed accounts at 31st Line Strategic Communications all while holding the position of president of Trapper Enterprises, her freelance writing and communications business. Her experience in the agricultural communications and journalism industry is solid. She's one of the few in the country to work as staff and freelance, both in journalism and communications. This agility gives her an unparalleled understanding of the CFWF membership. Always enthusiastic about professional development, Janet was the driving force behind the Alberta Farm Writers Association for over 25 years. At the international level, Janet was one of CFWF's prime representatives for several years and encouraged CFWF to adopt a more formalized approach of representation at the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists. Janet was also one of the main drivers who first brought home the proposal of CFWF hosting an international farm writer conference - an idea which bloomed into the 2011 Canadian congress and, in many ways, put Canada on the map within IFAJ. The lasting financial success of the congress has had a major impact on CFWF and led to the creation of the Professional Development Fund.
Born in 1932 in Lacombe, Ron holds a degree in agriculture from the University of Alberta. He also received an MBA from the Ivey Business School in 1960. Ron started his career in May 1954 as farm radio director for the Alberta Federation of Agriculture, and then joined CFAC in Calgary, covering Southern Alberta with his daily farm broadcasts. Ron was instrumental in founding AFWA in 1955. In 1957, the United Grain Growers and CFAC sponsored his 80-day world tour to compile radio network reports on Canada’s contribution to the Colombo plan. By his return date, he contracted yellow fever and had to relinquish his CFAC position to his excellent stand in, the late John Church. He returned to his family’s registered Angus business for 10 years, and during that time, served on Red Deer’s city council and as chairman of the (now) Westerner Exposition in Red Deer. He spent four more years with the Canadian Grain Commission until 1974 when he was named director general for Alberta for the Department of Regional Economic Expansion. Ron managed its 30-person office for six years, dispensing more than $25 million in federal regional grants. Ron closed out his career with Suncor as manager of government affairs. By 1984, he resigned from Suncor to go back home to Red Deer to assist with the dispersal of the family’s Angus cattle interests. At the time, it was the second oldest such operation in Canada, having been established in 1911.
REGINALD R. NORBY
Reg graduated from the University of Alberta with a bachelor of science degree in agriculture in 1969 and a masters in agricultural economics and rural sociology in 1974. During his 50-year career in agriculture, Reg focused his work in agricultural and food marketing and management advising, evaluation and communication in economics, marketing and management. He served as the executive manager for the Alberta Institute of Agrologists from 1993 to 1995. He also worked as an administrative officer and lecturer in the U of A’s Faculty of Agriculture. Reg was a founding member of the Alberta Agricultural Economics Association and served on its first board. Reg also spent more than 30 years as a presenter in the agriculture in the classroom Classroom Agriculture program, and over 40 years as a Northlands shareholder and volunteer. In addition to multiple awards Reg received throughout his career, most notably he was named an honourary life member by the Alberta Agricultural Economics Association in 1989, the Alberta Institute of Agrologists professional recognition award in 1985 and a U of A Agriculture Club honourary life member in 1980.
Bill graduated with a degree in agriculture from the University of Alberta in 1958 and began his career in the feed sales department with Canada Packers in Stettler. From there, Bill moved his family to Camrose where he worked as the farm commentator for CFCW radio for three years, and then became CBC’s farm commentator in Edmonton for seven years. Bill joined colleagues Scott Flewett and Gayle Honey to form AgraVoice Productions where he wrote and produced radio and television projects. His work took him to Edmonton’s Northlands Exhibition and its public relations department until Alberta Pork hired Bill to lead the pork promotion and communications program. This included expanding the Alberta Hog Journal to become the Prairie Hog Journal and then, eventually, the Western Hog Journal magazine. Bill was a visionary for the organization of the Banff Pork Seminar (one of the largest pig programs of its kind in the world) and was one of the founders of the Red Deer Pork Congress. A career highlight was organizing the sponsorship of the Culinary Olympic Team that travelled to Frankfurt, Germany, in the early 1990s. Bill remained an associate member of several chef organizations. After 15 years with Alberta Pork, Bill retired at the age of 60 in April 1994 and moved home with his wife, Marion, to the family farm at Westlock.
Edward Schultz, retired professional agrologist, attended the University of Saskatchewan and holds a bachelor of science in agriculture, specializing in economics. He worked for eight years for the Alberta Shur-Gain division, Canada Packers Ltd., and 36 years as general manager of Alberta Pork. This position also included 10 years as director of Canada Pork International, helping to make Canada the world’s leading pork meat supplier. Upon retirement in 2007, he served for two years representing the Alberta livestock industry on the Land Use Framework process organized by the Government of Alberta’s Sustainable Resource Development Department. In 2008, Ed was appointed to the Alberta Agriculture Hall of Fame. Ed lives with his wife Judy in Sherwood Park. Throughout his career, he volunteered as a minor sports coach in ice hockey, soccer and competitive alpine skiing. He has been a Rotary member for more than 25 years and recently served on the board of directors of the Edmonton West Rotary Club. He also completed the Aboriginal Canada course at the University of Alberta.
Harry started his career with the Royal Bank in 1978 as a consumer loans officer trainee. Upon an introduction to Keith Sveinson, Royal Bank’s senior district manager of the Agriculture Banking Group for Alberta, Harry transferred to his department in 1981. As regional manager of agriculture banking, Harry functioned as part of a small group of mobile professional agrologists who were mandated to work closely with local branch managers and account managers in their dealings with their agricultural clientele. In this role, Harry produced comprehensive reports for clients’ farming operations that included a detailed assessment of production, financial, human resource and marketing management techniques of the principals involved, in addition to a full valuation of physical assets being employed. This included up to 200 reports a year. These completed farm reports were retained at the branch for future reference and shared with the district credit department for their use in assessing and adjudicating the worthiness of credit requests. In addition, a significant part of Harry’s role in the Agriculture Banking Group involved attempts to increase the bank’s market share in agriculture. To that end, the bank encouraged him to join the Alberta Farm Writers Association with a clear view to meet and get to know journalists, broadcasters and marketing personnel of various agri-businesses and key players involved with all levels of the public sector. In 1997, as a result of his own personal development interests in retirement and financial planning, he transferred from agriculture banking to the financial planning group of RBC Royal Bank. There, he continued to work predominantly with agriculture producers and agribusinesses and continued to benefit from his association with the AFWA. Upon his retirement from RBC Royal Bank in 2005, the annual provincial tours hosted by AFWA provided him with a valuable connection and means of staying in touch with those involved in aspects of the agriculture industry. Harry was privileged and honoured to receive honorary life membership status in AFWA in June 2018. He had, by then, authored approximately 3,000 detailed farm reports.
Ric Swihart was a journalist with the Lethbridge Herald for 41 years, the last 39 of those years travelling the backroads of southern Alberta and beyond telling the stories of rural life and farmers as an agricultural writer and editor. Ric was largely responsible for the Herald wisely adding a daily agriculture page to the newspaper. He has brought southern Alberta readers reports from their own communities as well as travelling across Canada and the U.S. Pacific Northwest reporting on important issues – more often than not being the first to the story. He is the first Canadian to be a member of the National Association of Agriculture Journalists in the U.S. and is an honorary member of the Alberta Institute of Agrologists. Ric, one of the few exclusively full-time agricultural newspaper journalists in Canada, provided industry stakeholders with the type of insightful reporting they required to make key decisions while at the same time bringing non-agricultural readers a clear understanding of this issue. His coverage, including exclusive material through his U.S. industry sources, made The Herald a news leader on this complex subject. Farmers welcomed Ric into their homes, federal ministers return his calls promptly and researchers turn to him first, knowing he has the background and comprehension to recognize significant developments. His dedication to his work as a journalist is equalled only by his dedication to his family and community. Ric and his wife Sharon reside in Lethbridge and have five grown children. His passions remain agriculture, woodworking and his grandchildren.