WCF Alumni runs successful, first ever Learning Extension Day

The first WCFA Learning Extension Day took place at Cranfield University on December 18th 2019

Date: 17th December 2018

LED at Cranfield gets thumbs-up from the attendees

Sean Rickard 2019 LED
Professor Sean Rickard gave a combative and challenging opening address

For the WCF Alumni committee the Learning Extension Day (LED) was always viewed as one of the most important benefits of membership of the association. The concept of the day was to deliver on the association's mandate, which is to build on the huge positives of attending a WCF course, by creating events and opportunities that help delegates to continue to learn, develop and network.

The very first LED was held at Cranfield University's Milton Keynes complex, on December 19th 2018. There was a full house of one hundred delegates in attendance and a range of top quality speakers and session leads to provide the meat of the day. The programme started with a typically challenging and combative opening address by Professor Sean Rickard and some lively and thought proving debate to follow. This was followed by a series of three, separate workshops on International Competitiveness, People Management and Precision Agriculture. The delegates were streamed into three colour coded work-groups - all wonderfully well organised and managed by the associations excellent secretary Duncan Couper. The work groups made their way around all three workshops with breaks for tea and coffee and lunch in between.

During the lunch break - a period of the day that included a range of personal mentoring opportunities - the delegates got the chance to meet with fellow course members and to meet members of other courses and other year groups. The chat and the conversations were sometimes just as challenging as the more formal parts of the day and delegates reported real value in the contacts and conversations they made and enjoyed.

P Wynn mentoring at 2018 LED
Past Master Philip Wynn was one of a number of mentors operating sessions during the lunch break

The last formal part of the day saw the delegates reassemble in the plenary room for a closing address from Sir Peter Kendall. Sir Peter responded and commented on Sean Rickard's opening address and gave some really interesting feedback from the various sessions he has attended. Once again the audience was invited to participate and the questions, comments and challenges to what had been said were as n interesting and enlightening as the rest of the day had been.

Karen Mercer Chairman of Education for the WCF gave the audience an update on the development of the Company's educational portfolio and talked a little about the new course the Company, in conjunction with Harper Adams, is launching in 2019 - called Benefiting from Precision Technology in Agriculture.

Mark Hall - Chairman of the WCFA organising committee - closed proceeding by thanking his committee and all the presenters and mentors who had given up their time for free.

The atmosphere throughout the day and the dinner was buzzy and positive. Delegates from courses as far back as mixed with those from much more recent courses and exchange memories, ideas, challenges and thoughts. The venue - Cranfield University's School of Management facilities proved perfect for the day. The main lecture theatre was perfect for the audience size and lent an entirely appropriate air of serious study to proceedings. The break-out rooms were all clustered around a central open space - which encouraged lots of inter-mingling and networking and for those staying over the accommodation was all we could have hoped for.

lunch at 2018 LED
Coffee breaks and lunch were popular networking opportunities for delegates

In an email survey conducted immediately after the event, participants were almost universally positive about their experience. Over 80% of respondents said they would be 'likely or very likely' to attend again when the 2019 event is held and almost as many again said they would 'recommend' attending to friends and colleagues.

The WCFA committee under the leadership of chairman Mark Hall are already planning the next LED for December 2019 and details of dates and the venue - which it is hoped will be Cranfield again, will be announced via the WCF website as soon as they are available.