On March 23, 2019 I had the pleasure of attending my first Ontario Home Economics Association (OHEA) conference at Brescia University College. I was excited to have the opportunity to meet current and future Professional Home Economists (P.H.Ec.) and explore the possibilities of this field.
The theme for this year’s conference was “40 Years of OHEA: Past, Present & Future”. The theme was well represented as many speakers talked about how OHEA has evolved over time. I was motivated to see how I can help OHEA develop over the next 40 years.
Our keynote speaker, Bruce Sellery, started the day off with a very informative and thought provoking discussion on why smart people do dumb things with their money. The main reason he presented was that people do not understand the 4 C’s of money - context, consequences, complexity, and community. He asked the question “What is your money for?”, and encouraged us to think into the future to determine what we wanted in life and how we could start saving.
We then shifted gears to hear Marlene Cornelis talk about how to market yourself through blogging. She gave us insight to the world of blogging with tips and tricks to success, as well as first-hand experience on how to turn your passion into a business reality.
A sustainability panel consisting of three individuals who owned a farm or worked on an agriculture related board were invited to talk about their experiences. This panel allowed us to hear not only why livestock agriculture is important, but how it is improving and why they love what they do.
To end the first half of the day, we heard Mairlyn Smith, P.H.Ec., discuss how she used laughter to get through the hardest times in life. She encouraged us to wake up every day and choose happiness.
Following lunch, Carol Culhane, P.H.Ec., presented research on bacteria and the importance of washing your hands. She tied this in with the conference theme by explaining how the research evolved over OHEA’s 40 years. The key point of this was to ALWAYS WASH YOUR THUMBS.
Next, Dr. Joe Schwarcz gave an eye-opening presentation on agricultural myths and facts. He focused on how easy it is for someone to cherry pick points from articles and that society is driven by fear more than facts.
Kelly Drennan discussed the major implications of the clothing industry. It was shocking to see how our choice in clothing can have such an impact on the environment and how cheap clothing factories can impact human safety. Madison Olson informed us on a possible solution to these implications caused by fashion. She explained how her and her sister took a passion of theirs and made it into a tangible business by creating a STMNT.
Our final speakers were Jason Eaton and Holly Laasanen. These speeches were very motivating. They discussed how OHEA and SHEA have the possibility of fostering many minds and how we have a future as a professional organization, making our presence known.
I will leave you all with this final note.
When I heard Carol Culhane, P.H.Ec., state this quote in her closing slide, I was taken back. She stated:
“Consider your university education as the foundation of your professional knowledge, not the peak of it.”
I encourage all future P.H.Ecs to take this quote with them wherever they go, putting a value on your continuous education. I ask all current P.H.Ec. to help guide us students in our professions, as we will help lead OHEA into the future.
Lela Hopper is currently in her third year of a Honours Specialization in Nutrition and Dietetics at Brescia University College. Lela is from a small town called Lively, Ontario, about seven hours north of London. She has always had an interest in the field of nutrition as she is both a Type 1 diabetic and has Celiac's disease. These are her motivators. They drive her to learn more and excites her to teach others. After graduation, she hopes to incorporate dietetics and human ecology.