By Elaine Shein, International IFAJ Committee Chair, DTN/The Progressive Farmer
Congratulations to AAEA members Phyllis Coulter and Michelle Miller who have been selected to receive International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ) 2020 Congress Stipends. They were selected by the AAEA International Committee to each receive $1,500 towards their travel costs to this year’s Congress being held in Denmark. Thank you to AAEA’s Professional Improvement Foundation — and those who have donated to PIF — to help make these professional development opportunities happen.
Coulter is an award-winning field editor with Illinois Farmer Today from Bloomington, Illinois, while Miller runs the social media platform “Farm Babe” and is also an international keynote speaker. This will be Miller’s first IFAJ Congress.
The AAEA International Committee also selected our 2020 AAEA Young Leader nominee (we are allowed one nominee per guild). We look for applicants 35 and younger who demonstrate great potential to become leaders in the agricultural journalism/communications industry. Our nominee was then submitted to the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ)/Alltech Young Leaders Award judging committee. Congratulations and good luck to our nominee, Wyatt Bechtel — we will find out before the end of March if he was selected as one of 10 outstanding young journalists to be a 2020 IFAJ/Alltech Young Leader.
If he is, he will be awarded the opportunity to participate free of charge in a two-day specialized training program (Boot Camp) from June 21-23, 2020 in Vingsted, Denmark. The Boot Camp includes professional development, networking workshops and farm visits. The award also covers the Young Leaders’ registration and accommodation to the main IFAJ Congress in Denmark from June 24-29.
Bechtel currently is working in marketing for Filament, and formerly worked with Farm Journal Media and Vance Publishing.
PIF is also kindly providing $1,500 stipends towards Bechtel’s travel to the Congress, and to me as chair of the International Committee so I can participate in the Congress and represent AAEA on the IFAJ Executive Committee.
This year’s Congress has the theme “Farming Today for the Society of the Future” and more on registration can be found here, including links to the pre-Congress and post-Congress tours. The early bird deadline is March 31, 2020.
One of the biggest questions currently is will IFAJ Congress go ahead, or will it be cancelled because of the coronavirus global situation. Denmark, like many other countries, has seen a spike in its COVID-19 cases from its first one on Feb. 27, 2020 to just over 800 as of March 13.
On March 12, one of the Congress organizers updated on the IFAJ2020 Facebook page the following statement on behalf the IFAJ 2020 steering committee:
We are still working on preparations for the IFAJ 2020 congress on the assumption that it will be held.
The recent dramatic escalation of the corona pandemic globally and in Denmark obviously gives us pause for thought about how we as organisers of this summer’s IFAJ congress should react. Should we go through with the congress as planned, postpone it or even cancel it?
The short answer is that we are still working on preparations on the assumption that the congress will be held at the end of June as planned. We have until 21 April to change our minds and in the worst case cancel without losing too much money. We will therefore wait until mid-April, when we know more about how the pandemic develops, to make a more definite decision. In the meantime, we will follow the plan that we have had all along, namely to hold a fantastic congress in June.
We will still comply with our policy of refunding the congress fee. This means that everyone who has paid for participation in the congress or who will do so in the weeks to come, can until 10 May get a full refund if they regret their registration. Likewise, everyone who has registered will of course get a full refund if we have to cancel in April. You can therefore without risk continue to take advantage of the early bird discount that continues until 31 March.
Since at this point we are still unsure of the full impact and length of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are tentatively moving ahead with plans to attend IFAJ.
If there are AAEA members who have already registered for the Denmark trip or are thinking of going, please contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org) so I have a better idea of how many AAEA members we have going and will keep everyone updated on more details as we hear more.