5 Young Sisters Carry on Their Parents’ Legacy After the Biggest Challenge of Their Lives

In 2007, Leona Dargis and her 4 younger sisters experienced the unimagineable.  Their parents, Jean and Joanne Dargis, as well as their grandmother Anita Dargis, were killed in a plane crash near Swan Hills, Alberta.  The 5 girls, two of them still in high school at the time of the accident, were faced with the challenge of succeeding their parents estate and making decisions of what would happen to the family farm.
We had the privilege of interviewing Leona and hearing the story of how these 5 amazing young women not only carried on their parents farm business for the past 8 years, but more importantly, what they learned from the years that they had with their parents on the farm.
“Mom and Dad supported us to be who we wanted to be, and do what we wanted.  It wasn’t to stay on the farm, it wasn’t to go away from the farm, it was totally just ‘pursue your passions and follow your dreams’, and if something doesn’t work out then try something new.”

Leona’s own path has been an incredible journey, including a Nuffield scholarship that took her around the world and added a global perspective to her understanding of the issues facing farmers around succession planning.  And now, her career in public speaking offers her the chance to inspire many more people to live life to its fullest.  But what really took me by surprise was what Leona plans on doing next, which she talks about at 5:06 into the video.  Leona, as well as her 4 sisters, have an enthusiasm for life, a work ethic, and a passion for agriculture that are sure to take them to unbelievable places and make their parents very, very proud.



Matthew Gould’s Farm Story

When Matthew Gould was young he always knew he wanted to be a farmer. In fact, he made this known to his family from an early age saying that when he was older he would be farming with his Dad. He comes from afarm family, through and through, and all of his siblings have been involved with the farm from a young age.

His familiar, but unique farm story is well worth a watch, if not two! So please, feel free to hit play on the video below and learn about the young farmer, Matthew Gould.

Matthew Gould’s Farm Story

Jen Jenkins’ Story

We’re happy to introduce you to Jen Jenkins.  She’s the new online facilitator.  But more importantly, she has an incredible farm story.


3 Big Factors in Choosing a Legal Structure for Your Farm Business: Tax, Liability and Succession!

The first thing to be aware of is that all the legal structures are used on family farm businesses, and sometimes some families even use a combination of them. For example, it’s possible to have the farm operations incorporated but the land kept outside of the company and owed personally.

Tracy Hanson, lawyer at Walsh LLP in Calgary, discusses the three major factors for choosing a legal structure: tax, liability and succession.

With regards to tax, it’s possible to incorporate the farm operations, so that the company is then paying corporate tax rates. In Alberta, the corporate tax rate on the first $500,000 of income is 14%. For personal income, it’s 39%. So, when you have individuals with significant income, often the level of tax becomes a driving force for incorporation. Once incorporated you have 86 cent dollars to pay debt or expand. However, a downside to incoroporating is the complexity and extra administrative costs.

Whether or not your farm business fits into one structure or another is dependent on the type of farm business. There’s no magical answer to what structure fits for any given business or type of farm, simply because there are so many factors to consider.

This workshop was funded in part by the Agriculture & Food Council of Alberta



Re-Thinking the Future of Agriculture

Vik Maraj, of Unstoppable Conversations, discusses how to improve the future of agriculture by letting go of the past.

Farmers can’t get out of their view about what limits them in fulfilling their future ambitions. Often they think that they are “on their own.” This view has been passed down by previous farm generations, however the limitations of generations past, no longer reflects the reality of today. In the past, farmers truly where on their own, left to battle it out each year for the hope a good yield, come harvest time. But today, farmers need to realize they are not on their own and to be able to re-imagine a new future of agriculture they must start reaching out to other farmers, organizations and networks.

The future of agriculture cannot improve by referencing the past; it requires us to bring forth a future that is entirely new.



Managing Your Human Resource Risk

When you’re in a farm operation there are a number of different risks and in order to be successful as a farmer you need to understand:

1. What the risks are;

2. The potential for problems with the risks;

3. How to alleviate the risks to an acceptable leve

To understand the whole picture you need to educate yourself and then consult professionals to help you out.

‘Human Resources Risk’ is one of the ‘5 Pillars of Risk Management’, as explained by expert Reg Shandro.  In farm families the complexities of managing human resources can be risky business!

For further resources, please read the information below or in the “download” section on the right of your screen:

Conflict Resolution Skills
This workshop was funded in part by the Agriculture & Food Council of Alberta


Building the Future- Leaving the Past

Kevin Gangel, from Unstoppable Conversations, talks about how you can build the future you want, by questioning your old assumptions and then confronting those perceptions that have prevented you from identifying new possibilities.

Farmers today are facing huge challenges. Usually farmers, and people in general, look for “better solutions” to impending challenges, however Kevin Gangel recommends looking “in a better place”, instead.

Generally, when farmers look for “better solutions” to their problems they look at what they do and don’t have to help solve their problems. However, the place farmers should be looking at is in their own “thinking”. You have a thinking that gives you your actions. in other words, what you think is or is not possible. Therefore, if you change the way you think about something, it will enable you to choose a new future. In this way, you are building the future, while leaving the past and farmers (just like anyone else) could benefit hugely from taking this step forward.


How Young Farmers Can Master Success in Their 30’s

You’re 30 and you’re the worker bee at your farm. You’re tired, you have a family, you need to run your farm business and you want to have some fun.

So, as a 30 year old farmer, what are some things you need to think about to make it all work?

1. Accountability – talk to your family about what accountability means to you.

2. Conflict resolution – those that master success in their 30s are ones that understand conflict resolution.

3. Passion and commitment

4. Are you paying attention to results?

5. Trust

You’ve made it through your 20’s on the family farm.  Now what?  Well, your 30’s could be the most exciting time of your life, building on what you’ve already learned, and truly becoming a master at what you love.

Elaine Froese discusses how to ensure successful farming in your thirties on the family farm.


How Young Farmers Can Make Great Choices in Their 20’s

When you’re in your 20s your challenge is to become independent from your parents. Part of what a young farmer really wants is to have a voice and make decisions, and to be respected for his or her opinion.

So, if you’re a young farmer and you identify with the above, this video is for you!

Also, remember to check out Elaine Froese‘s webinar “How to Make Better Family Farm Decisions“.

And if you want some farm management tools and templates check outWittman Consulting.

The 4 Stages of Changes for Farm Families

Farmers often believe that by working hard, things will be OK. But life is not a straight line, and working harder and harder doesn’t mean things will always work out. So, what should you do?

Elaine Froese has taken the Hudson Institute‘s cycle of renewal modeland applied it to the lives of farm families.  Take a look at where you’re at in these 4 Stages of Change, in both your personal and farm business life.
The 4 Stages of Change Applied to Farm Families