Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

April 06, 2001

Rural leadership development program names top intern, sends out recruiting call for new applicants

Twelve certificate students have graduated from a unique University of Guelph internship program that allows young Ontario adults with a proven interest in agriculture and rural issues to experience first-hand how the province’s leading rural organizations are managed and led.

The Internship for Young Leaders (IYL) program pairs interns with board members at leading rural Ontario organizations.

“Through this program, young people develop their leadership, research and public speaking skills,” said Kathryn Biondi, director of agri-food continuing education in the Ontario Agricultural College, who oversees the program. “They learn the goals, politics and audience of an organization; develop an overall awareness of issues facing rural organizations; achieve a sense of civic contribution; develop an understanding of how one promotes an organization’s cause through lobbying, information presentations and project initiatives; and gain insight into how the government impacts rural Ontario boards. It’s a tremendously valuable opportunity for young people.”

Working with their mentors, interns study the mandate of the mentoring organization, participate in workshops to learn how boards operate, attend conferences and complete a special project as part of the program.

The IYL is a U of G certificate program delivered by OAC in partnership with Junior Farmers and the federal government.

The program, now entering its third year, is looking for new applicants aged 18 to 30 interested in participating in the program, as well as potential mentor organizations.

Among the 12 interns graduating this month was Janet O’Rourke of Dublin, Ontario, who received the Top Intern Award for this past year after mentoring with Women in Rural Economic Development (WRED).

“I was honoured to be named top intern because I realize that many of the other interns also put a lot of work into their programs and their presentations,” said O’Rourke. “The WRED Board allowed me to dig right in and get involved in the issues. The most important feature of the program is the knowledge and experience gained while participating on a Board of Directors. Since every intern mentored with a different Board, we all gained an awareness of the way Boards function. The IYL program requires discipline and self-motivation, and I would highly recommend it to anyone wanting to gain more leadership skills.”

O’Rourke, who runs a family farm with her husband, says she chose WRED for her internship because she is interested in training for rural women and plans to become more involved in rural organizations as a board member in the coming years.

Application deadline for this year’s program is June 1, 2001.
Interested applicants and employers can contact:
Kathryn Biondi
Director, Agri-Food Continuing Education
Ontario Agricultural College
University of Guelph
519-824-4120, Ext. 3414
or visit the IYL Web site at:

To arrange an interview, media can contact Alex Wooley, manager,
media relations, at the University of Guelph, 519-824-4120, Ext. 6982.

For media questions, contact: Communications and Public Affairs, 519-824-4120, Ext. 3338.

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