New agriculture dean at Olds College

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Part of smart agriculture program

BY Blayne Meek

Olds College is pleased to welcome James Benkie into the new role of dean of program development, agriculture technology.

In his new role, Benkie will be focused on developing and launching a new program in agriculture technology that will offer students three different provincially approved credentials, including a certificate, diploma and degree.

A seasoned business leader, Benkie held senior roles with Fujitsu Canada, Benville Grain Group and Agriculture Financial Services Corporation prior to joining the Olds College team.

“As a college we are excited to be growing our programming and applied research in agriculture technology,” says Debbie Thompson, the college’s vice-president academic, student experience as well as its chief innovation officer.

“Mr. Benkie brings diverse cross-industry experience and expertise from both the agriculture and technology sectors that will be extremely valuable as we begin to create these new programs,” she says.

The creation of three new credentials in agriculture technology, along with the launch of the Olds College Smart Farm, and the newly enlisted thought leader in smart agriculture are all part of the smart agriculture program at Olds College.

It will be “a catalyst for the enhancement of academic and research programming, and demonstrates the college’s commitment to being a leader in smart agriculture,” a news release says.

“We have seen phenomenal convergence in both the agriculture and technology sectors over the past seven years and I believe the next generation of students will be a conduit to unprecedented change across the industries,” Benkie says.

“The students will no doubt challenge the status quo and lead disruptive paths ahead and Olds College has an incredible opportunity to enhance and enable those paths by creating these new programs.

“I am truly honoured and excited to join Olds College on this journey and I am encouraged to become a member of the amazing Olds College team.”

Blayne Meek is director of corporate communications and marketing at Olds College.

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Doug Collie

Doug Collie joined the Olds Albertan in 2014 as editor. He covers municipal politics, news, community events, arts and entertainment and sports happening in and around Bowden and Olds.