Local Roots; Far Reaching Influence
Breton resident Sara Wheale is making sure that her voice is heard far and wide. As a member of the Agricultural Services Board (ASB) since October, she is representing her generation in agriculture. And as a member of the Prime Minister’s Youth Council, she is bringing her perspective as a young agricultural producer and oil and gas industry worker from rural Alberta to a national forum.
“I wanted to see if someone within the industry would have a chance (to be appointed),” Wheale says of applying to serve on the Youth Council. “I wasn’t sure rural perspectives would be involved.”
But she was appointed in January, joining 25 other Canadians aged 16 to 24 from across the country for a two-year term. So far, the Council has held one in-person meeting, in Calgary, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet.
“It was interesting to meet the ministers,” Wheale says. We were able to sit down and have casual conversations, and talked one-on-one about their departments.”
And the perspective she brings to the table? That politicians and the media don’t always present the full picture of the agriculture and oil and gas industries.
In Wheale’s opinion, “Not everything industry does is bad. The good that we do is not mentioned or is forgotten about, and we are shamed for what we don’t do. Way more positive things happen that people don’t see, and it’s hard to understand when you listen to one side.”
She says the diversity of the Youth Council is incredible, and each member shares the same main goals – to connect with people and ensure the Council is transparent to the public. Currently, the Council is working out logistics for meetings and how to make sure that connectivity and transparency can come about. Wheale also likes the fact that the Council is not limited just to current issues prevalent in the media – “We can address everything and anything, absolutely everything that we see going on.”
Wheale also brings insight from the agricultural field to both the Youth Council and the ASB. Agriculture feeds everyone, she points out, and people have lost the connection between producer and product.
“It’s important that young people get involved,” she says. “We need to have balance.”
She has been active before her formal involvement with the Council and ASB, launching the Farmers Against NDP Bill 6 Facebook page in the fall of 2015, which is still active in examining municipal, provincial, and federal issues.
“If it’s related to agricultural policy, we like to have discussion around it,” Wheale says.
And while Wheale is focused on having a voice, she wants others to be heard as well.
“Don’t be afraid to talk to me about what’s going on,” she says. “A big part of our mandate is to connect to people in our communities, to work to make policies work for all areas.”
To start a conversation, you can e-mail Wheale at email@example.com
Brazeau County is proud of Wheale and her efforts to represent our area and our industries.