My name is Keteirah Reimer. I am going into my fourth and final year of studies at the University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) in Abbotsford. I will be graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree, specializing in Global Development, Business, and Communications. Additionally, I will be graduating with a Liberal Arts Diploma and a Communications Certificate. I have a passion to serve others in anyway I can, while making my impacts sustainable long-term. With that being said, I recently participated in an internship through Wagner Hills Farm Society, during May until August of 2021. I worked under my supervisor Melinda French, who is The Markets project manager. This started as a volunteer position and quickly turned into a summer job. This job also became integrated among a ‘Canadian Internship’ class at UFV supervised under my professor, Dr. Cheri Enns. With that being said, I am going to share what Wagner Hills Farm Society is, as well as The Market (the specific program I worked under), and the definitions associated with this society. I will also touch on why The Market was successful, and how I am going to apply the skills I learnt among this internship into my schooling and future career goals.
Wagner Hills Farm Society is a Christian based addictions recovery program for both men and women. Both campuses are located in Langley and welcome individuals of all backgrounds and beliefs. The men’s campus started in 1981 (40 years ago) and the women’s campus started in 2008 (13 years ago) (Wagner Hills, 2017). The programs are a duration of 1 year long, while the residents also have the opportunity to continue the program for a second year if they desire to. Additionally, “The farms are equipped with professional greenhouses growing perennials, grasses, groundcover and shrubs; productive gardens; bee hives; blueberry fields; and home-grown livestock and they provide an environment of peace and tranquility for residents, staff & visitors. Since inception, the Society has seen over 5000 men and women access this ministry” (Wagner Hills, 2017). Other work programs among the farm include cooking, carpentry, sowing, and learning how to make body care products. Not only this, but the recovery centre offers counselling and pastoral mentorship opportunities. There are also book clubs and bible studies that are built around forming lifelong friendships and community. The organization has some financial support from the government and hosts fundraisers to help sustain its program at an affordable cost for residents, through dinners and golf tournaments.
Non-profit organizations’s come with many challenges including, keeping up with sustainable change in growth, proving skeptics wrong among proper use of donations, building lasting infrastructure, determining the way success is measured, standing out from other competitors, and determining how to change patterns that have been in place for a long period of time (University of Notre Dame, 2020).
Wagner Hills Farm Society is considered a social enterprise (because of The Market), this is defined by, “…a business that has specific social objectives that serve its primary purpose. Social enterprises seek to maximize profits while maximizing benefits to society and the environment. Their profits are principally used to fund social programs” (Barone, 2020).
The Market is originally located in a separate building on the women’s campus, selling food from the farm, body care products, jewelry, home decor, cooking utilities, and much more. All of which is produced and created by the residents through the work programs. Since this past May, up until the end of the September, The Market has been planted among an outdoor retail space, in the heart of Fort Langley, to achieve extended networking opportunities. At this location, The Market has been open from Thursday to Sunday, with 65 volunteers rotated shifts during this time. I have been managing The Market as the hands-on onsite market manager, by setting up and putting away all the products, at the beginning and the end of the day with the residents (by putting all the products in and out of the trailers). I also restock products in our display space when supply is decreasing, make note of products we need delivered to the pop up for the next week, train volunteers & residents, clean out the storage units, arrange break times, and troubleshoot any issues throughout the day. Additionally, I meet with other staff for meetings and research new product ideas for all the product lines.
View of the pop-up Market in Fort Langley before the space is full of product.
One corner of the pop-up Market in Fort Langley displayed with product.
Another corner of the pop-up Market in Fort Langley displayed with product.
While knowing Wagner Hill’s Farm Society’s purpose of the pop-up Market in Fort Langley was to network, something that assisted that goal was volunteers buying products as gifts to friends and family. During each shift at least one volunteer bought a product as a gift for someone. In each paper bag that carried the gift, I placed a pamphlet informing the receiver of the present what The Market was all about. With an increased need for volunteers through the pop-up Market, sales not only increased, but as a result information going out to new individuals and households increased as well. This also happened by volunteers simply sharing about what they did (volunteered) throughout the week through casual conversation with others.
Another way the pop-up Market has found new ways to network is through outdoor signage: firstly sharing The Markets hours (two signs on the sidewalk at the front of the store), secondly sharing the purpose of The Market (one sign hanging in the middle of the store on the tree), and thirdly sharing the different product lines The Market carries (one sign standing in the middle of the store at the base of the tree). This is the first time The Market (in any location) has had outdoor signage. This brought customers into The Market based on the sign with the mission of the Market and informed them of the hours to come back again. Allowing for new networking connections to be made.
Networking applies to Global Development Studies (my minor in the Bachelor of Arts program) through the need to gain the attention of and attract individuals who support other non-profit organizations, who are also seeking networking opportunities, as noted above as one of the challenges among these kinds of organizations. One career goal I have is to become a Missions Pastor. Among this career choice one of the main pieces in this role is to work with individuals in a range of countries, cultures, and ethnicities. As well as, to connect with the congregation to raise money for projects and partnerships in those communities. To do that, networking is a key tool.
By planting the pop-up Market in Fort Langley, Wagner Hills Farm Society has also continued to bridge the gap (through networking) for neighbouring communities to understand the need for addictions recovery support, and encouraging to welcome among empathizing with residents of these programs back into the community. This assists with the United Nations stand point on the Right to Development, ‘..equality, non-discrimination, participation…’ (United Nations Human Rights, n.d.).
Therefore, throughout this internship, two of the many takeaways I learnt for my future career journey, is the importance of marketing through signage, pamphlets, and volunteer help. Signage is key in the tasks involved in being a Mission Pastor. This means knowing how to advertise the demand for funds or volunteers through the elements of: what to write to draw the reader in and where to advertise this specific information. This can be applied to bulletin handouts in hallways and projector slides in main sanctuaries. Churches are also largely run by volunteers, therefore their efforts in helping and voicing a passion for serving through global development trips or fundraisers can often be shared among their friends and family who may want to serve too. Therefore, volunteers not only help the task at hand, but share the need for more volunteers for future projects.
To follow, this is why the goal of networking for the pop-up Market in Fort Langley was successful for Wagner Hills. Additionally, how it ties into my education and future career goals. I would highly recommend other students to participate in this internship.
Barone, A. (2020). Social Enterprise. Investopedia. https://www.investopedia.com/terms/s/social-enterprise.asp
United Nations Human Rights. (n.d.). The Right to Development at a glance. https://www.un.org/en/events/righttodevelopment/pdf/rtd_at_a_glance.pdf
University of Notre Dame. (2020). Six Challenges Facing the Nonprofit Sector. https://www.notredameonline.com/resources/nonprofit-leadership/six-challenges-facing-the-nonprofit-sector/
Wagner Hills. (2017). History of Wagner Hills. https://wagnerhills.com/history-of-wh/