IFAJ Offers “30/30” Professional Development Webinar Sessions

By Hugh Maynard

IFAJ Global Manager

You’ve probably lost track of the times you’ve been asked for just a minute of your time. Well, we want 60 minutes of your time, but I promise you it’ll be well worth it.

IFAJ now has available the “30/30” professional development sessions: 30 minutes of presentation, 30 minutes of questions and discussions. You’re done in an hour.

Using the GoToMeeting online platform, the IFAJ Global Office can set up a webinar where your feature speaker can present power points, documents, photos and videos. The audience can see and hear the speaker, ask questions and the group can follow with questions and a moderated discussion. The whole session can be recorded and posted online for those unable to make the scheduled time. We can handle up to 100 participants.

A few examples of sessions you could organize:

  • The Freedom of the Press Foundation has some expertise on delivering digital security training to journalists. They could provide a speaker to talk about the evolving technologies in the media landscape.
  • The EU announces some big changes to the CAP, a briefing could be arranged to bring all journalists up to speed – both inside and outside the EU – on the impact to farmers and trade.
  • Theo de Jager, a farm leader who spoke at the IFAJ Africa Forum at the South Africa Congress last April, is now the president of the World Farmers’ Organization. At the Forum, he told the participating journalists that we had to make the story of agriculture “sexy” – maybe he could elaborate on that idea a bit more for us.
  • Finland has a new agriculture minister and so the Finnish guild would like to have an introductory briefing in Finnish. The Croatians could do the same, and the Rwandans and the Australians and the Argentinians and the Germans, and so on and so on.
  • Do you want to write better, edit better, film better, report better? No problem, let’s line up some of the top experts in these fields and give them 30 minutes to present and 30 minutes for questions and discussions.

Just 60 minutes of your time to develop your professional skills and knowledge is not too much to ask, so all you have to do is ask the Global Office to help you organize a session:

Johnnie Belinda Cluff at globalcoordinator@ifaj.org

Pilot Programs

Using the 2017 cohort of IFAJ Alltech Young Leaders as testers, two pilot 30/30 sessions have already been organized. The first featured Katie Knapp, owner and photographer at The Ag Photographer and a member of the American Agricultural Editors’ Association, and herself a former young leader. Katie has a master’s degree in visual sociology from Goldsmiths, University of London. For her dissertation, she explored questions about food production knowledge through innovative, visual methods and is very interested in using photographs as a focal point for storytelling. You can view her presentation here:


The second 30/30 session featured IFAJ president Owen Roberts talking to the Young Leaders about using blogs to ‘agvocate’ on behalf of agriculture. When he’s not being presidential for IFAJ, Owen is a journalist and a columnist with daily, weekly and monthly print and online media, an adjunct agricultural communications professor and the research communications director at the University of Guelph (Ontario, Canada). His 30/30 presentation will be made available online soon.

Marieke Snyman from the South African guild was one of the Young Leaders who participated in the pilot 30/30 sessions. She found the sessions beneficial because it allowed her to interact with other journalists in agriculture and discuss topics within their working environment, ones that they all understand.

“What’s so great about this is when I have questions about things within this environment they are able to give me answers applicable to it – instead of a generic answer,” Marieke said about the 30/30 sessions. She also noted on a social scale that it’s enjoyable to interact with her fellow agri-journalists from around the world that she met at the South African Congress in April, and to keep building on those relationships.

Tom Bicknell, another Young Leader from Australia, said that the sessions allowed him to pick the brains of some of the best in the business through the 30/30 webinars. “The webinars make me feel like I’m right back in South Africa (at the congress), happily asking stupid questions of smart people. I recommend everyone come along to a session — the conversation’s great, and you never have to get on a bus.”