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Red Deer Man to Lecture Max Planck PhDs

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Todayville is pleased to announce that our own Agriculture TV producer, Nick Saik, has been invited to speak to many of Europe’s leading PhDs at the famous Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology in Potsdam-Golm Germany.

As a featured speaker at the Plants and People Conference 2019 in September, Nick has been invited to discuss effective science and agricultural communication –something he has proven very successful at despite him doing so during an era of divisiveness. And to think that it all started with an argument with his father.

Nick was a hippy filmmaker working in Vancouver on fairly shallow, big budget Hollywood fare when his former farmboy father suggested that he come home to tell the story of modern agriculture. There was only one problem. Nick didn’t believe in the approaches of modern agriculture.

Sharing a healthy respect for science, that lead the TEDTalk agricultural expert that advises everyone from Bill Gates to African Presidents to challenge his son: prove me wrong.

That challenge led to a lot of learning and several highly involved trips around the world. Nick met with the scientists and farmers who were directly engaged in the innovations necessary to feed the world’s growing population. The father’s strategy was wise.

“I had no business even having an opinion about something I knew so little about back then,” says the younger Saik when referring to his previous self. “Today my main advantage is my ignorant humility. It’s a healthy place to work from.”

A handcam provided for Nick Saik’s early start in the field of communications.

That is what the young Albertan has to offer Europe’s leading scientists: He can not only show lay people how to do meaningful research, even more importantly he can actually model the behaviour of someone who will change their mind if the evidence is good.

Today’s brain science is quite clear: changing one’s mind is not a natural inclination for human beings. We are impacted by confirmation bias and cognitive dissonance and are very often little more than creatures of habit. This makes even honest persuasion difficult.

“The best way to change someone’s mind is to let them change it themselves,” says Saik. In a world where most seek only to reinforce their existing opinions, Nick’s willingness to be naive and open is at the heart of why he has become so popular as a science and agriculture educator and public speaker.

His unique position as neither a scientist, nor farmer, nor activist allows him to genuinely represent the average person’s perspective because, like him, most people are none of those things.

“There’s an awareness in science that it accidentally became a closed shop. It wasn’t very friendly when it came to dumb questions. But I ask a lot of dumb questions myself, so instead of dismissing people’s concerns I actually share them, so I look into them and then share what I learn. And it turns out people like that.”

Nick is good at modelling respect, and at helping people understand each other. His Facebook page may have the most respectful and informative comment section on that entire platform.

In a world of binary, either-or thinking, Nick uses everything from LEGO to musical styles to help explain and/or analogize the essence behind what could otherwise be complex ideas. He’s even funny, having had single videos that, in their various forms and on their various channels, have been seen over 50 million times.

Supported by a large cast of farmers and scientists that are perpetually adding to his knowledge, Nick continues to learn every week. That was ultimately why he came to call his company KNOW IDEAS MEDIA. (Even the logo shows two distinct circles of thought being tied together by communication. He’s as earnest as they come.)

 

 

The company’s principles of optimism, reason, science, respect and maybe most importantly, compassion may be just what agriculture needs. In a world divided by many people shouting many points of opposition, voices of clarity, unity and cooperation are like a breath of fresh air. It that context it makes sense that a voice of reason in Red Deer was heard as far away as the most hallowed halls of Europe.

Respectful and informative exchange. If it seems too simple, we only need to remember that it was that very approach that lead Nick Saik all the way from the shallows of Hollywood fare to the meaningful depths of discussing food security at one of the leading educational institutions on Earth.

If he keeps this up, Nick’s ignorant humility might just lead him to follow in his father’s footsteps. He too may one day be advising billionaires and world leaders, and that’s pretty impressive for a guy who’s claim to fame is that he is ‘just one of us.’

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Corb Lund and A Night At The Ranch in support of Smiles Thru Lindsey Foundation

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Corb Lund

CORB LUND

Corb Lund is a national treasure.  A singer/songwriter from southern Alberta, he has released nine albums, three of which are certified gold. Lund tours regularly in Canada, the United States and Australia, and has received several awards in Canada and abroad.

A Night At The Ranch is an annual rodeo event hosted at The Daines Ranch near Penhold.  So far $35,000.00 has been raised for charities.

Proceeds from the May 8th and 9th events will go to The Smiles Thru Lindsey Foundation.

From A Night At The Ranch website:

We are so excited to announce that we will be having none other than Corb Lund perform LIVE for you at the Daines Ranch as part of his 2020 Canadian Tour!  The performance will follow the Extreme Bronc Challenge at 4:30 PM on May 9th!

Tickets will be available February 14th, 2020 at 10:00 AM local time. You can get your tickets at www.nightattheranch.com or at the Innisfail Auction Market !

Proceeds will be donated to the Smiles Thru Lindsey Foundation

NIGHT AT THE RANCH

The Night at the Ranch Foundation has raised over $35,000 for local charities and hosts an annual event in May at the Daines Ranch in Innisfail, Alberta

CovyMoore_CM_NightattheRanch_C5Futurity-

XTREME BRONC MATCH

Rank horses and tough cowboys are the meat and potatoes of this event! C5 Rodeo brings their award winning roughstock so these cowboys can battle it out in the arena dirt for the cash prize!

CovyMoore_CM_NightattheRanch_C5Futurity-

CHARITY POKER TOURNAMENT

The Charity poker Tournament at Night At The Ranch is one you will want to attend! We transform the Daines Ranch Bar into a full on Poker Tournament, with live and silent auction items! Bring your best poker face and play your buddies for the cash prize! All proceeds made from the tournament; as well as auction items, will be donated to the Smiles Thru Lindsay Foundation.

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Angling and adventure greet our intrepid traveller on Padre Island

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Now that harvest is over, maybe you’re considering a getaway.

By Gerry Feehan, award-winning travel writer and photographer. Here is his latest story, Padre Island, Texas.

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“…I peaked through a stack of chili-flavoured pork rinds, past a battered flag of the Lone-Star State hanging in the dirty window, and into the parking lot. Smiley was staring storeward… waiting….”

 

Padre Island Texas is a long spit of sand dunes guarding mainland Texas from the destructive tornadoes and winter storms that pound in from the Gulf of Mexico. Between this narrow barrier island and the mainland lies Laguna Madre, a shallow hyper-saline sea renowned for sensitive sea grass and world-class fishing.

Padre Island Texas

The end of the road on South Padre Island.

On some Padre Island beaches, camping is free. South of Corpus Christi, at Padre Island National Seashore, free boon-docking extends for over 100 kilometres. But the sandy entrance is also the only exit. So, after you bite off as much of the hard-packed seashore road as you can chew and you’ve had your fill of remote surf and turf, a tight U-turn and a long return drive up the beach is required to get back to civilization.

It was shoulder season, so we and our RV had the whole shoreline to ourselves.

Padre Island Texas

Now that’s remote camping!

The other campers were all outfitted for fishing. “When in Rome,” thought I and asked the park ranger if he knew of any local fishing guides.

The weather was atrocious: 3°C with a 70-kilometer north wind. Only a Canuckle-head would beach in such conditions; five meters from the raging ocean and sideways to a Gulf gale. The van was a rockin’ all night.

In the morning the weather cleared, the sun shone and the wind ebbed, portending a fine day on the Laguna Madre. We drove back across the causeway to the mainland, toward Arroyo City and a lovely campground along a canal fronting the ocean. We chose a site protected by live oak trees in case (heaven forbid) the weatherman’s prognostication was inaccurate and the wind began to howl anew. As per our typical MO, we arrived at dusk, sans reservation.

The other campers were all outfitted for fishing. “When in Rome,” thought I and asked the park ranger if he knew of any local fishing guides.

“No, I sure don’t,” he said. “Y’all could check with the live-bait store back in town. Look for the big sign – a redfish – out front. They may have a’ idea.” I asked Florence if she’d mind hanging solo for a day while I went angling. “No, go ahead. I’ll spend the day relaxing, reading and knitting.” I wandered down the road.  When I saw red, I stepped in. The shop smelt. After baiting the proprietor with fishing small-talk, I asked, “Do you think you could find a guide to take me out tomorrow?”

“Well, I know of a fella lives right by,” he said, chewing uncertainly on a pork rind, “but it’s kind of late and I doubt he’d be available on short notice. I could call if you like.” He picked up the phone.

Padre Island Texas

Captain Smiley

Five minutes later ‘Captain Smiley’ was walking in the door. He shook my hand and arrangements were made to tackle an early morning. The sun had not yet risen when the Captain putt-putted up to our riverfront campsite and welcomed me aboard. Minutes later, dawn greeted us as we cast our first lines into the shallow, glassy waters of Laguna Madre. A fat red drum hit on my second cast; a fighting day was upon us.

I had a great time with Smiley. Affirming his moniker, he laughed and joked all day long in his charismatic Tex-Mex accent.

The night before I had warned the Captain that I was short on greenbacks and would need to pay by cheque. He hesitantly agreed. When we arrived back at dock he expertly prepped my red-fish “on the half-shell” for grilling. Driving me back to our campsite he diverted his battered pick-up truck toward the bait shop. Pulling up he informed me that there was an ATM inside. Evidently he preferred cash to a cheque written on the reputable but foreign Royal Bank of Canada. I smiled, opened the door and headed into the store.

I had no bank card, just a US Visa. Uncertain if I could withdraw cash or whether my PIN# would work, I shoved the card in, chose English over Spanish as my language of preference and, after agreeing to an unreasonable fee for using the bank machine (“in addition to whatever other charges your financial institution may impose”). I prayed silently as I entered my personal security particulars. The machine sat quietly for a time, made some distant interior rumblings and eventually announced: “Request Declined.”

Padre Island Texas

Roseate spoonbill

I peaked through a stack of chili-flavoured pork rinds, past a battered flag of the Lone-Star State hanging in the dirty window, and into the parking lot. Smiley was staring storeward… waiting.

I checked to see if there was a back exit. The wary owner eyed me suspiciously. The rear door led through a heap of fish offal into an alligator-infested swamp. Preferring embarrassment to an awful death, I thought I’d again ask the Captain if he would accept my cheque. I took a last baleful glance at the ATM and noticed a message: “maximum withdrawal $120.” I had requested too much dinero. I started the process anew, punched in my PIN, agreed to pay the usurious fees and crossed my fingers. The machine slowly spat six tattered twenties at me. A full day of guided fishing is not cheap. I repeated the process a few times. Eventually the tired machine coughed up enough cash to retire my piscatorial indebtedness.

I handed the dough to Smiley. He smiled and asked, “Do you want to fish tomorrow?” I couldn’t envisage enduring another ATM debacle and, in any event, it was time for us to move on from this arroyo.

“No thanks,” I said, “we need to hit the road tomorrow.”

“Aw, that’s too bad,” said Smiley. “Tomorrow’s my day off and what I do on my day off is… go fishing. I’ll take you out on my dime.”

Padre Island Texas

A great blue heron eyes the fishing.

I saw my calendar clearing.

I called Florence to ask leave. She concurred, delighted. (Apparently, one day away from her beloved was insufficient to create any overwhelming desire to be reunited in the confines of our small RV.)

I had another great “caught my limit” day of fishing. As I fried up a delicious speckled sea trout that night, Florence asked, “Are you going fishing again tomorrow?”

“Naw,” I said. “Smiley’s got a customer lined up for the morning.”

“Gee, that’s too bad,” she said, “this fish is incredible.” She was eyeing her knitting.

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Close up shot of writer Gerry Feehan

Gerry Feehan

Hope you enjoyed your trip to Padre Island Texas.  Gerry Feehan is an award-winning travel writer and photographer.  He and his wife Florence live in Red Deer, AB and Kimberley, BC. You can read more of his stories here.

 

 

 

Read Gerry’s excellent tale – The Long Road to Texas.  Click below.

 

 

 

 

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