GATINEAU, Quebec — The outgoing president of the Quebec Produce Marketing Association ended his one-year term in style — whitewater rafting down the Ottawa River during the association’s annual convention Aug. 16-18 at the Hilton Lac-Leamy in Gatineau.

“New QPMA members are younger and more active, so we tried to find activities that would appeal to them,” said Robert Beauregard, director general of Boucherville, Quebec-based produce importer Agri-Mondo Inc.

Encouraging young people to join the produce industry and become involved in the association has been the focus of Beauregard’s presidency, but he sees his theme — Cultivating the Next Generation — as a long-term goal for the association.

“It’s not (just) a one-year theme,” he said. “We’re putting good things in place for the future. A lot of industry people agree it’s time to think about the next step, the next generation.”

He’s most proud of the one-year internship the QPMA has created for a young industry professional.

“We want to create a passion for the produce industry,” he said. “If young people talk about QPMA and the industry, it plants a seed for the future.”

In his closing speech, Beauregard said QPMA has initiated a number of important projects in the past year, from establishing an internet showcase for Quebec and Canadian produce to strengthening ties with hotels, restaurants and institutions.

QPMA also plans to work more closely with provincial and national associations to share information and defend the produce industry on key issues, he said.

In the past year, the association also welcomed the Quebec Cranberry Growers Association and the provincial Aliments du Quebec program as partners and published a guide on broccoli and cauliflower with the Quebec Produce Growers Association.

Following the convention, Beauregard said he is looking forward to a few days of fly fishing, followed by an Italian cruise with his wife, Denise Ross.

Ross was actively involved in every aspect of the convention, from supervising the bus tour to handing out mardi gras beads.

“It’s been a busy year,” Beauregard said, “but I’ve really enjoyed it and it’s been a good challenge.”