WEST 2018

Our great lineup of speakers: Listen, Learn, Network & Grow!

Our speakers are industry leaders, market innovators and those passionate about creating success. We choose the best people from within and outside the ag industry to share their wisdom and knowledge with you.

Imagine the goals you could achieve with a little inspiration, networking and insightful skills from women and men who’ve “been there, done that” and are willing to share what they’ve learned along the way.

Meet the AWC EAST 2017 presenters that we have lined up to date!

Leslie Beck, RD

Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc., Toronto, Ontario

Presentation Title • Peak Performance Nutrition: What to eat to be stress resilient, energetic and healthy

Presentation Overview: Stress is a fact of nature. A little of it helps you stay focused, energetic, alert. Beyond a certain point, though, stress stops being helpful and can zap your energy and impact your weight, your health, your mood and your productivity.

Nutrition plays a critical role in managing the physiological effects stress. What you eat – and don’t eat – can help or hinder your body’s ability to respond to stress.

During this information-packed presentation, Leslie Beck will present 10 practical, easy-to-implement nutrition strategies to help you fuel your body with the right foods and nutrients it needs to effectively deal with stress, stay energized and be as healthy as possible.

Leslie Beck has spent her career helping Canadians achieve their health goals as they relate to diet and nutrition. She is a best-selling author, columnist, and television and radio personality.

In her Toronto-based private practice, Leslie works one-on-one with clients who seek her expertise, providing diet advice, personalized meal plans, and ongoing coaching. She also is the Director of Food and Nutrition at Medcan, a company that helps people achieve their very best health and wellness.

Leslie is recognized as an authority on nutrition and food issues and is an experienced communicator in television, radio and print media. She writes a weekly column in The Globe and Mail, Canada’s national newspaper, and is a regular contributor to CTV news. She is the best-selling author of 12 books (Penguin Canada) including The Plant-Based Power Diet and Leslie Beck’s Longevity Diet.

Born and raised in Vancouver, BC, Leslie obtained her Bachelor of Science (Dietetics) from the University of British Columbia and proceeded to complete the dietetic internship program at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto. She studied a Masters in Epidemiology at the University of Toronto. She is a member of the College of Dietitians of Ontario, Dietitians of Canada, The Institute for Functional Medicine and The American College of Lifestyle Medicine.

Q+A: Get to know Leslie Beck >

Tim Caulfield

Canada Research Chair in Health Law and Policy, Professor in the Faculty of Law and the School of Public Health, Research Director of the Health Law Institute, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta

Presentation Title • When Celebrity Culture and Science Clash

Presentation Overview: Celebrities are everywhere! And this matters. Seriously. Research shows that popular culture has a profound influence on people’s health and that our ideals of beauty and success are framed by a celebrity-dominated worldview. In this fun and provocative presentation, Timothy will examine what science tells us about the influence of popular culture. He will also debunk common health myths and provide practical, evidence-based, recommendations relevant to both healthcare professionals and to individuals seeking to live a healthy lifestyle.


Author of Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything?

Professor Timothy Caulfield is an unrivaled communicator who debunks myths and assumptions about innovation in the health sector—from research on stem cells to diets to alternative medicine—for the benefit of the public and decision-makers. He is a Canada Research Chair in Health Law and Policy, and a Professor in the Faculty of Law and the School of Public Health at the University of Alberta. He has been the Research Director of the Health Law Institute at the University of Alberta since 1993.

Over the past several years, Professor Caulfield has been involved in a variety of interdisciplinary research endeavours that have allowed him to publish over 300 articles and book chapters. He is a Fellow of the Trudeau Foundation and the Principal Investigator for a number of large interdisciplinary projects that explore the ethical, legal and health policy issues associated with a range of topics, including stem cell research, genetics, patient safety, the prevention of chronic disease, obesity policy, the commercialization of research, complementary and alternative medicine, and access to health care.

Professor Caulfield is and has been involved with a number of national and international policy and research ethics committees, including the Canadian Biotechnology Advisory Committee; Genome Canada’s Science Advisory Committee; the Ethics and Public Policy Committee for International Society for Stem Cell Research; and the Federal Panel on Research Ethics. He has won numerous academic awards and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences.

He writes frequently for the popular press on a range of health and science policy issues and is the author of The Cure for Everything: Untangling the Twisted Messages about Health, Fitness and Happiness, and his most recent book, Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything?: When Celebrity Culture and Science Clash.

Melodie Chan

Senior Manager Veterinary Services – Cattle/Equine/Genetics, Zoetis, Kirkland, Quebec

Presentation title • Why wait for the knock? Build your own doors

Presentation Overview: Despite being a city kid, Melodie Chan travelled down an unlikely pathway right into the heart of agriculture.  Join her as she takes you through a journey where self-awareness, curiosity and courage all played an important role to help her get to where she is today.

Dr. Melodie Chan grew up in the greater Vancouver area as a city girl and fell in love with agriculture during her undergraduate studies at the University of British Columbia. In 2002, she graduated from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine and pursued a career within the dairy industry.  After completing an internship in Dairy Production Medicine at Cornell University, Dr. Chan worked at a mixed animal practice in Saskatchewan and then started her own dairy veterinary practice in Olds, Alberta. Dr. Chan is currently the head of Zoetis Canada’s Technical Services Team for Cattle, Equine and Genetics.

Dr. Chan is a past-president of both the Western Canadian Association of Bovine Practitioners and the Canadian Association of Bovine Veterinarians. In 2014, she was named as one of the honorees of Vance Publishing’s 2014 “Top 40 Under 40” Award Program which recognizes people making a significant contribution to America’s food system.  More recently, Dr. Chan received the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) Industry Award in 2016 that formally recognizes a CVMA member for their contributions to the advancement of veterinary medicine.

Dr. Chan has a passion for helping people to succeed by sharing knowledge that will improve animal health management, animal welfare and food safety.

Q+A: Get to know Melodie Chan >

Merle Good

GRS consulting Ltd., Cremona, Alberta

Workshop Presentation Title • Stereotypes are a thing of the past … Spousal Succession is a thing of the future!

Presentation Overview: Agricultural  family farms are “big businesses” with complex succession issues and concerns. However, unique opportunities do exist and need to be examined under a new light.  Traditional family roles and relationships may not define future success.  New attitudinal shifts combined with innovative business agreements are required to provide both personal and business clarity.  This clarity will provide a roadmap for purpose and opportunity within your business.  Together, let’s re-examine your own family farm future!

Merle Good graduated from the University of Alberta with a B.S.C. degree in Agriculture Economics. Merle, his wife Peggy & daughter Annessa have created GRS Consulting Ltd.

Prior to his private sector endeavor, Merle worked for over 30 years as the Alberta Provincial Farm Tax Specialist. Merle focuses on unique business structures and tax strategies to facilitate intergenerational Succession. This expertise combined with his practical experience of owning and operating a multi-generational farm has created a unique combination of skills and insights to enable clients to meet their business and personal goals.

Their company motto is “Succeeding in Succession.”

Merle continues to work with top accountants and lawyers throughout Canada and on a yearly basis speaks at over 20 public seminars and works with over two hundred farm clients per year. Merle and his family continue to reside on the family farm near Cremona, Alberta.

Darci Lang

Motivational Speaker and Trainer, XL Enterprises, Regina, Saskatchewan, Sponsored by G3 Canada Limited

Presentation Title • Focus on the 90%

Presentation Overview: One simple tool to change the way you view your life

If anyone understands staying motivated and doing what you love, it’s Darci Lang. She quite literally went out and built the life she wanted. She has worked for great leaders and not so great leaders, built three award-winning businesses and let them go when the time was right. All she has accomplished has been done on her own terms, maintaining balance between home and work and by Focusing on the 90% – on the positive in her world.

Darci Lang has discovered a solution to help you live your life, do your job, and connect with the people who matter most, to the fullest. Living her message of focus on the 90% has enabled Darci to make a difference in the lives of those around her. She helps to transform cultures, employee engagement and in turn – morale and profitability.

In the midst of her flourishing entrepreneurial career, Darci has learned powerful lessons about maintaining balance, bringing her best self home to her husband and teenagers and embracing her own victories. Darci Lang is an inspirational speaker, an award-winning entrepreneur, a best-selling author, a wife and a mom, whose simple tool helps individuals reframe the way they look at, and think about, their work and their interactions and relationships with others.

Darci’s Focus on the 90% message will help you find balance, discover ways to stay motivated and love your work, rise above adversity, and make a difference in all you do!

Q+A: Get to know Darci Lang >

Dr. Karen MacNeill

Copeman Healthcare Centre, Calgary, Alberta

Presentation Title • Mental Health – let’s talk!

Presentation Overview: In any given year, 1 in 5 Canadians experiences a mental health problem. Given issues with isolation, accessibility of support and the stigma of reaching out the farming community may be at even higher risk. In this session you will learn how to recognize and respond to Mental Health issues so you can be of better support to the agricultural community.

Dr. MacNeill is a registered psychologist and performance consultant with over 17 years of experience helping Olympians, organizations and business leaders consistently bring their best in high pressure situations. As part of the day to day routine, Dr. MacNeill thrives by having a broad scope of practice. She works as a psychologist at Copeman Healthcare Centre, helping individuals work through issues related to mental health, transition and interpersonal effectiveness. She developed a crisis intervention approach for sport, and is trained in various crisis intervention techniques. She also consults with “Compete to Create”, a mindset and culture Accelerant Company founded by Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and Dr. Michael Gervais, and is a sessional instructor for the Haskayne School of Business MBA Programs teaching a course on High Performance Leaders. Dr. MacNeill also applied her knowledge and expertise in her capacity as manager of sport psychology services for Vancouver Olympic Committee’s medical team at the 2010 Olympic Games, and will perform a similar role as Lead Mental Health Counsellor for the Canadian Olympic Committee at the 2018 Winter Olympics. Dr. MacNeill’s holds a Ph.D in counselling psychology and her career achievements and volunteer efforts have been publicly recognized as she was a recipient of the Avenue Top 40 under 40 Award.

Q+A: Get to know Dr. Karen MacNeill >

Billi J. Miller

Author & Photographer, Billi J Miller Photography, Kitscoty, Alberta

Presentation Title • From Government-working “cubicle dweller” to running her dream business from a 100-year old prairie farm

Presentation Overview: Billi will discuss how she went from living in the city working for the Government in 2009, to marrying a 4th generation farmer and living on a 100-year old family farm in the Canadian prairies. Billi will talk about creating her business of passion and how the Farmwives Book Project was borne from it.

Billi J Miller is published author, photographer & freelance writer from Kitscoty, Alberta, Canada. She has written two books celebrating Canadian Farmwives and has no plans to stop writing about inspiring Canadians.

She is a recognized, award-winning photographer whose niche is capturing farm families “while at work” to provide their families with heirloom art to pass down for generations.

She writes freelance for newsprint and magazines and works from her home office on a 106-year old farm in east-central Alberta where she lives with her husband and their two daughters.

Billi is passionate about telling the stories of inspiring Canadians. Her first two books do just that by focusing on a traditionally underappreciated role of “farmwife”. Her first book “Farmwives in Profile” (released in January 2016) sold over 1,100 copies and celebrated and honoured 17 farmwomen from the Canadian Prairies between the ages of 55-90. Her second book (due out February 2018) hones in on the new faces of this aging title. These new women span across the country from British Columbia to Newfoundland.

Billi, herself, is a farmwife (although with her own “spin”) to her husband a 4th generation mixed cattle and grain farmer from a century old farm rich with tradition and history. It was her relocation to this farm in 2010 that fueled her deep love and passion for capturing the permanence and pride of farm life and why she created her successful business doing so.

Q+A: Get to know Billi J. Miller >

Janet Podleski

#1 National Bestselling Author, The Looneyspoons Collection/Entrepreneur, Granet Publishing Inc., Ottawa, Ontario

Presentation Title • From Cellar to Bestseller: The Looneyspoons Recipe for Success

Presentation Overview: How did two sisters with no formal culinary training, no publishing track record, no food industry experience and most importantly, no money, end up writing and publishing one of Canada’s bestselling cookbooks of all time, spawning one of the country’s most unique and widely recognized healthy eating brands? The answer may surprise, delight, ignite and inspire you!

Janet’s captivating, heartfelt and often hilarious against-all-odds success story illustrates the awesome power of passion, perseverance, following your gut instinct and believing that ANYTHING is possible—even when everyone around you thinks you’re nuts! Get ready for a heaping serving of inspiration, information and a LOT of laughs!

Janet Podleski is the author of four #1 national bestselling cookbooks: Looneyspoons, Crazy Plates, Eat, Shrink & Be Merry! and The Looneyspoons Collection. Along with her sister Greta, she’s known as host of the popular Food Network TV show, Eat, Shrink & Be Merry! and they’re also the creators of a successful line of healthy prepared foods sold at Costco Canada.

Their first cookbook, Looneyspoons (published with the help of David Chilton, of Wealthy Barber and Dragon’s Den fame), became one of the fastest-selling books in Canadian publishing history, with an astonishing 850,000 copies sold. It spent an incredible 85 weeks on the national bestseller list and 8 months at the #1 spot. Not bad, considering the girls self-published the book out of their basement!

The sisters’ inspirational, against-all-odds entrepreneurial success story has been featured on countless media outlets across North America, including The Today Show, CNN, QVC, People Magazine, Reader’s Digest, Cityline, Breakfast Television and Canada AM. Fixtures on many a Canadian kitchen countertop, their books and recipes have been the subjects of Trivial Pursuit questions and their famous entrepreneurial story is even studied in university marketing textbooks.

Janet, the writer of the duo known for her trademark wit and humour, is a “Certified Health Nut.” (Allergy warning: May contain puns!) She runs a busy private wellness practice in Ottawa, integrating Natural Nutrition with cutting-edge Mind/Body Energy Medicine based on the latest in modern science such as epigenetics and energy psychology. She was drawn to this field in 2005 after being diagnosed with a serious autoimmune disorder, which she successfully reversed using natural methods. No stranger to overcoming obstacles, Janet was inducted into the Carleton University Sports Hall of Fame in 2000 for excelling in soccer and basketball…despite six knee operations along the way!

Now, besides making the complicated subject of healthy eating “easier to digest,” her true passion is inspiring, uplifting and empowering others so they can produce miracles with their own career, health and life. Prescription: Belief!

Cami Ryan

Social Sciences Lead, Monsanto Company, Eureka, Missouri

Presentation Title • The Road Less Travelled: An Unexpected Journey Through Agriculture

Presentation Overview: Career and life pathways can be planned or pre-determined. Yet, we often find ourselves stumbling upon roadblocks or unexpected opportunities that can shift our direction in subtle or surprising ways.  This is a story of gratitude. It is the story of my unexpected and remarkable journey into the world of agriculture.

Cami Ryan is a self-defined nerd, social media maven, unapologetic storyteller, and part-time myth-buster. She has worked in the area of agriculture for more than 20 years and, for most of that time, as a public-sector researcher.  In 2014, Cami joined the Monsanto Company where – as Social Sciences Lead with Regulatory Policy and Scientific Affairs – she leverages an expanding scientific network in North America and around the world to more closely examine and understand policy, regulations and acceptance of agricultural innovations. Cami hails from the Saskatchewan prairies. She and her cowboy-carpenter husband, Blair, live on a small farm in Missouri with a handful of horses and other critters. They have two grown children: Tanya is a country-western singer/songwriter/performer and yogi and Hayden is an electrician/actor/playwright.

Q+A: Get to know Cami Ryan >

Gail Schafer

Regional Sales Manager, Global Ag Risk Solutions, Olds, Alberta

Workshop Presentation Title • Stereotypes are a thing of the past….Spousal Succession is a thing of the future!

Presentation Overview: Agricultural  family farms are “big businesses” with complex succession issues and concerns. However, unique opportunities do exist and need to be examined under a new light. Traditional family roles and relationships may not define future success. New attitudinal shifts combined with innovative business agreements are required to provide both personal and business clarity. This clarity will provide a roadmap for purpose and opportunity within your business.  Together, let’s re-examine your own family farm future!

Gail and her family farm East of Olds, AB.  She grew up in South Africa and worked in agriculture and government there. After immigrating to Canada in 2000 she has worked in leadership roles in the financial and employer services industries. Gail represented AFSC in Central Alberta as a Relationship Manager; and recently joined Global Ag Risk Solutions in October 2016 as the Alberta Regional Sales Manager. Global Ag Risk Solutions is a progressive, client focused, innovative and rapidly expanding private Revenue Insurance Company.

Josie Van Lent

Dean, Agriculture Sciences, Lakeland College, Vermilion, Alberta

Josie is currently the Dean of Agriculture Sciences at Lakeland College in Vermilion. She and her husband are also partners in Staden Farms, a commercial livestock and grain farm, with bison, beef and grain enterprises. Josie spent the first half of her career working for Alberta Agriculture, Food & Rural Development as a District Agriculturist and Beef Specialist. Following she was employed in the crop service industry with Webb’s Crop Services in Vermilion. She moved on from Webb’s to manage the crop input division for the United Farmers of Alberta (UFA) in northeastern Alberta and then on to Lakeland College.

Josie is a member of the University of Alberta’s Rangeland Research Institute’s Advisory Council and on the Advisory Committee for Alberta Farm Animal Care. Josie is also Past President of the Canadian Association of Diploma Agriculture Programs. She and her family are also actively involved in the agriculture community in various capacities.

And most importantly, she has four children and three grand boys, and feels blessed to share agriculture and farm life with them! Josie and her family spend much of their spare time on horseback herding cattle and competing in western equine events!

Sherry Waddingham

President, Mindshift, Toronto, Ontario

Presentation Title • Don’t let unspoken gender rules get in your way

Presentation Overview: Men and women are very different. Men have different rules by which they work, communicate and make decisions. The challenge for women is these rules are not consciously communicated which leaves them operating blind.  This session will uncover gender differences in the workplace and how to avoid the pitfalls that can hold you back.

Dream It. Do It. Live It. That’s the essence of Debbie Travis’s success: and there’s a lot to learn from this deceptively simple approach. In this powerful keynote, Travis lays all her cards on the table. Want to make it big? Well, you’re going to have to work hard, she says. You’re going to have to make sacrifices. You’re going to fail, at least sometimes. But if you keep pushing forward, and if—above all else—you have passion that you believe in, you can get there.

With great humour and depth, Travis shares her rags-to-riches life story. Going from working-class England to one of Canada’s most recognizable brands—just walk into any Canadian Tire store to see the walls of Debbie Travis merchandise—has not been an easy journey. But her relentless entrepreneurial spirit continues to push her into newer territory. There’s no possible limit to success, she says. But there are no shortcuts: you have to put in the hours and chase every opportunity with passion, gumption, and creativity. You have to find your happiness. You have to create something. Including hands-on advice on building relationships, branding, and marketing, this talk is not only exceedingly inspirational, it’s practical, too. And, it’s an absolute joy to watch Travis on stage.

Sherry is an Interpersonal Behaviour Specialist and the President of Mindshift a workplace communication consultancy. She works with organizations in the areas of interpersonal communication and gender differences in the workplace together with leadership for women.

Sherry’s desire is to create a more humane workplace experience by helping people understand each other and providing the tools to help them work better together. Her industry experience runs the gamut and she has worked in both the private and public sector.

Prior to starting her own consultancy, Sherry was a corporate executive and spent over twenty years inspiring people and building teams. She has held senior leadership positions in communications, marketing and strategic planning with some of the country’s top companies including IBM Canada, Cossette Communications Group, OgilvyOne Worldwide and Liberty Health.

Sherry holds an M.B.A. from Queen’s University and is currently studying Psychology at Ryerson University.  She is an alumna of The Judy Project (Leadership Forum For Executive Women) from the Rotman School of Management. She is a Professional Certified Coach with the International Coach Federation and a graduate of Adler International Learning/OISE, University of Toronto.  She is a Certified Facilitator and Authorized Partner of Everything DiSC, A Wiley Brand.  Sherry is a graduate of Protrack Academy from the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers (CAPS).

Sherry lives in Toronto, is an avid potter, gardener and animal lover.

Q+A: Get to know Sherry Waddingham >