OLDS — Ag entrepreneur and author Robert Saik has donated $100,000 to Olds College.
The money will be used to create an endowment fund for the Robert Saik AgTech awards: two $2,500 scholarships per year supporting students from urban areas enrolled in the Agriculture Technology programs at Olds College.
That builds on another Saik scholarship that supports rural students entering agriculture at the University of Alberta.
The inaugural Rob Saik AgTech awards will be distributed in January 2023.
Saik, the CEO of AGvisorPRO, gave the keynote address during Olds College’s 2019 AgSmart exhibition on the future of farming.
“I established these scholarships at Olds College because the College offers hands-on, high-tech learning experiences with the Ag Tech programs,” Saik said in a news release.
“Technology, robotics, artificial intelligence and machine learning are a part of the future of agriculture.
“Olds College is helping students focus on the agricultural needs of tomorrow by placing technology inside the classroom and providing a hands-on learning environment on the Smart Farm.”
Olds College offers several agriculture and agriculture technology programs through the Werklund School of Agriculture Technology.
College officials say the Smart Farm is the first such entity in Canada.
It’s an interconnected environment utilizing 2,800 acres of land as well as existing agriculture operations and applied research programming to spur and showcase agriculture technology and agri-food development.
“I want this scholarship to encourage bright people to join the agriculture industry and take advantage of the technology available, and those bright people don’t need to come from a farm or have a background in agriculture,” Saik added.
“It’s important that kids living in urban areas understand agriculture is a viable and exciting career; it’s a really good place to be. I feel very strongly about that.”
Patrick Machacek, vice-president of development and strategy at Olds College, praised Saik’s donation.
“Agriculture offers a variety of career opportunities, including new skill sets centered around technology, data, robotics and engineering,” Machacek said in the news release.
“Thanks to Mr. Saik’s generous donation, we will be able to support urban learners in agriculture by removing some of the financial roadblocks and introducing these learners to exciting ag tech careers that are emerging throughout Alberta.
“Robert has been a long-time friend of Olds College and we would like to thank him for his continued support.”