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Agrimarketing : Canadian Agribusiness Employer Guide 08
AGRIBUSINESS EMPLOYER GUIDE ATYPICAL AGRICULTURAL CAREERS by Cynthia Hoffman, AgCareers.com Q: What do a marketing communi- cations firm, cartoonist, and soft- ware technology company have in common? A: Agriculture. At first this may seem like an odd answer, but agriculture in the 21st century has expanded to include various career opportunities. Bernard Tobin, Leigh Rubin and Keith Hartley may not have “typical” agricultural careers, but all of them enjoy their jobs and are proud to be part of the agricul- tural industry. ADVERTISING AGRICULTURE Bernard Tobin’s connection with agriculture began early on. He grew up in Canada on a dairy farm out- side of St. John’s, Newfoundland. But Tobin wasn’t interested in studying agriculture in college. Instead, he earned an undergradu- ate degree in political science at Memorial University and earned a second undergraduate degree in journalism at Ryerson University. Ironically, after college, he began working in the agricultural industry. “I left my home on the farm and went to the city for college and didn’t think I would work in agricul- ture,” Tobin said. “I appreciate what a city has to offer, but was always drawn back to the farm.” Tobin became editor for an agri- cultural publication and wrote about agricultural issues ranging from public affairs to biotechnology. He then worked in several public rela- tions agencies completing projects for agricultural clients. “I was able to pair my political science knowledge and communica- tions skills with my agricultural background and use both to be an effective professional,” Tobin said. In January 2007 he began a new job. Now, during his work day he will open a barn door and pass by a feed trough. But the barn door does- n’t lead into a barn, and the feed trough is certainly not holding any feed. 18 Tobin works at AdFarm, a full-service marketing communica- tions agency for produc- tion agriculture, food and rural development. The barn door opens into a meeting room and the feed trough holds the com- pany’s various awards. “Branding is very important to us and it is reflected by the way we incorporate agriculture into our office building,” said Tobin. According to their Web site, AdFarm works with clients who provide prod- ucts and services to the farm, those who market the farm’s finished prod- ucts, and those who need assistance with farm issues. AdFarm’s Canadian offices are located in Guelph, Ontario, and Calgary, Alberta. AdFarm also has U.S. offices in Kansas City, MO, and Fargo, ND. As team leader for the Guelph office, Tobin is responsible for man- aging a staff of 17 people consisting of account managers, public relations specialists, creative art directors, and studio production professionals. He said the team works together to effectively meet the needs of their clients. Some members on his team have an agricultural background, but others didn’t open a barn door until they began working at AdFarm. Tobin said the team’s diversity leads to its success. “One of our strengths is being able to bring people with both agri- culture and non-agricultural back- grounds together to share perspec- tives and produce the best possible product,” he said. “We thrive on teamwork. Melding everyone’s expertise together is what makes us successful.” These professionals may not be working on the farm, but they are still gaining experience working with agriculture. AdFarm’s unique office atmosphere reflects the industries they serve and reminds employees of the importance of their jobs within the agricultural industry. “Our professionals work on everything from seed to crop pro- duction to animal sciences,” Tobin said. “It’s a great career because you get to work with a range of clients in agriculture and that collection of experience makes everyone better.” ANIMATING FARM ANIMALS An AdFarm creative art director is probably someone Leigh Rubin could relate to. Unlike Tobin, the cartoonist did not grow up on a farm. He was born in Kew Gardens, NY, and moved to Northridge, CA, when he was young. Besides having a few chick- ens and two ducks named Dinky and Waddles, Rubin said he was pretty much a “suburbia kid.”