Neither Janelle Wells or Bryan Prystupa grew up on a farm, but being born and raised on the prairies means they both felt a strong connection to agriculture from a young age.

“Though I didn’t grow up on a farm, we definitely shared a lot of the same values as farm families. Unity, teamwork, hard work. Food brought us together.” said Prystupa whose family ran a wholesale distribution company that supplied Saskatchewan restaurants and grocery stores with produce.

Like Prystupa, Wells grew up in the city but remembers her father commuting to work at a farm southeast of Regina during her childhood

Having this exposure, while one step removed, always made me think that those in the sector were extremely hard working and passionate about what they do,” said Wells.

“What I didn’t see at my younger age was the science and technology behind the business decisions made,” she said. “That has been the most eye-opening piece about working in this industry as an adult.”

Wells and Prystupa have both spent over a decade working with Farm Credit Canada and are now AgExpert Senior Product Owners.

Their mission is to help digitize records so that producers can better leverage their data.

“Our goal is to be solid and simple and provide an easy stepping stone in moving from a notebook to a cloud program,” said Wells. “Digitizing records is the first step to seeing an operation’s 360 degree view of their business. As more information and growing years get entered in, the data our customers have, becomes more powerful.”

When Wells and Prystupa visited EMILI’s Innovation Farms Powered by AgExpert this summer, we asked them if they’d be willing to share their career journey as part of EMILI’s #ThisisAgriculture series.

When you were growing up, did you see yourself working in digital agriculture?

Bryan: Honestly, no. Like many other young, naïve prairie hockey players, I probably thought my career would be in the NHL. Which is funny because farm kids were the most talented hockey players growing up. I’m sure they still are!

Janelle: Growing up, I had no idea this type of role even existed and I didn’t see myself working in technology. I also didn’t realize how many jobs help to support the industry beyond the primary producer.

What brought you to your current role?

Bryan: I started in lending, working directly with customers for years. My passion was in marketing where I was fortunate to work on some very cool national marketing campaigns as well as niche customer experience projects. With the new era of digital agriculture we’re entering, I really like working directly with customers, helping them leverage digital tools to do what they do best as farmers. 

Janelle: I’ve worked at FCC for over 13 years, and one thing I really missed in my previous roles was the customer connection. When I heard about this role, and how I’d be able to work directly with customers to try and make their lives easier, it was a place I really wanted to be.

What advice would you give to someone considering a career in digital agriculture?

Bryan: Follow your passions. Chances are, they, along with your skills and competencies, will find opportunities in digital agriculture. It is an extremely advanced, technology-savvy industry that has a large responsibility to help solve a global problem: feed a growing planet.

Janelle: The sky’s the limit. There is so much opportunity in digital agriculture. Talk to people, learn about the industry and discover the pain points they have. Not only do you get to work with great people in agriculture, but you can have an impact.

This profile is part of EMILI’s This is Agriculture series, highlighting talented and diverse individuals across the digital agriculture sector. While individuals working in agriculture come from a variety of backgrounds, they share a common interest in growing and strengthening Canadian agriculture to ensure an environmentally and economically sustainable future for generations to come.