Five bursaries presented to young ag representatives at the 2022 Ontario Federation of Agriculture’s Annual General Meeting.
By Andrew Joseph, Farms.com
The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) has named five winners in its newly expanded 2022 Bursary Program.
OFA is the largest general farm organization in Ontario, representing 38,000 farm families across the province. Headquartered in Guelph, Ontario, it represents and champions the interests of the province’s farmers through government relations, farm policy recommendations, research, lobby efforts, community representation, media relations, and more.
Announced at its recently completed 2022 Annual General Meeting, the OFA bursaries were awarded to students in undergraduate programs studying agriculture.
This year, OFA added a bursary for a person completing an apprenticeship, as well as one for an individual completing a post-graduate or leadership development program. Each bursary is worth $2,000.
“The addition of two new bursaries made it possible for us to recognize the importance of all levels of education in setting people up for success in our industry. This year’s recipients represent the diverse skillset the next generation of young leaders brings to the agriculture industry,” stated Peggy Brekveld, the President of the OFA. “We’re proud to recognize five individuals who are dedicated to using their skills to better agriculture and Ontario’s rural communities.”
OFA said that all applicants were judged on demonstrated leadership skills, involvement in the community, as well as the varied accomplishments in their school and within the agriculture industry.
Post-graduate Bursary Winner
Valerie Higginson of Vankleek Hill is completing her final year in the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program at the Ontario Veterinary College, at the University of Guelph.
Higginson grew up on the family sheep farm, spending weekends and summers milking cows. Upon graduating next Spring, she will pursue a position as a food animal veterinarian working primarily with bovine species. She hopes to give back to the industry that raised her by volunteering as a 4-H leader, mentoring upcoming students, and joining industry boards.
Apprenticeship Bursary Winner
Andrew Kuiack is apprenticing through the Agriculture Equipment Technician program offered at Fanshawe College. He grew up in Ottawa, but a move west inspired a different path for his life.
He credits a friend for taking him under his wing and helping spark the passion he now has for a career as a mechanic at a local dealership. Kuiack is also dedicated to the herd of cattle he raises with his wife and kids, selling beef within his local community.
Undergraduate Bursary Winner—North/East Region
Faith Emiry, a Massey, Ontario native, is finishing her undergraduate degree at the University of Guelph in the Food, Agriculture and Resource Economics program. Growing up on a dairy farm with a seasonal strawberry patch, Emiry was accustomed to hosting school groups and community members. This fostered a passion for advocating on behalf of agriculture and representing the industry positively. She has honed her leadership and communication skills by holding an executive position on the OAC Class of 2023 board for all four years of university.
After graduation, Emiry intends to work in a role that bridges the gap between farmers and consumers.
Undergraduate Bursary Winner—Central Region
Michael Jones is a Bachelor of Applied Science candidate in Chemical Engineering, Class of 2025 at Queen’s University. From Midland, Ontario, his passion for soil science can be traced back to elementary school.
His resume includes two award-winning research projects, extensive volunteer work, and a diverse list of jobs, including pharmacy assistant, and co-owning a produce business. With a specialization in biochemical engineering, Jones is looking at a career advancing agricultural chemical technology, working as a process engineer or development researcher.
Undergraduate Bursary Winner—Southwest Region
Lexi Johnston of Listowel, Ontario, is a student at the University of Guelph in the Bachelor of Science in Agriculture program, majoring in Animal Science. With a well-rounded resume of judging accolades, leadership positions, volunteer work, and 42 completed 4-H clubs, Lexi aims to bring a wealth of knowledge back home to the family dairy and grain farm. She has a keen eye on the future, aspiring to maximize herd production and cow comfort.
Johnston’s passion for agriculture and her community is evident in the amount of time she has dedicated to giving back to both.
Funds raised at the silent auction held at this year’s OFA AGM, are earmarked for the association’s 2023 Bursary Program. The OFA invites students to look for announcements regarding applications in late spring.
For more information on OFA’s bursary program, visit www.ofa.on.ca/bursary.