Nominations are carefully considered by the Ontario Agricultural Hall of Fame board
By Jackie Clark
Seven leaders from the agricultural industry will be inducted into the Ontario Agricultural Hall of Fame (OAHF) in 2021, the OAHF Association announced Feb. 2.
This year’s inductees include:
- Stan Eby, beef industry leader who worked through both the Walkerton and BSE crises
- Roger George, past president of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture and played a part in the foundation of the Ontario Farm Environmental Coalition and Agricultural Adaptation Council
- Herbert Norry, extension specialist with the provincial government and promoter of 4-H and Junior Farmers
- Delbert O’Brien, lawyer and founder of the Drainage Tribunal
- Dr. Arthur Terence O’Connor, veterinarian and government advisor for swine and beef industries
- Dr. Peter Sikkema, agronomy researcher and extension specialist on weed management
- Doug Williams, advocate and government expert on Ontario produce, created of the slogan “Good things grow in Ontario”
With such abundant talent, passion, and leadership in Ontario’s ag industry, choosing OAHF inductees is no small task.
“We have a really engaged board,” Dr. Deb Stark told Farms.com. She’s the president of the OAHF Association and former deputy minister of agriculture, food and rural affairs in Ontario.
“We have quite a structured process, we work very hard to make sure we’re only assessing what’s been presented” in the nomination, she explained. “We challenge ourselves to make sure we’re not reflecting our own personal biases.”
The board receives nominations in October and reviews them separately. In December the board meets-this year virtually- to discuss and make decisions on inductees for the following year.
Nominated individuals “are very rarely people that are just leaders in agriculture. They are usually community leaders as well,” Stark said. “They’ve seen some kind of a problem, they’ve seen something that, for whatever reason, they’re determined to fix.”
Though the OAHF has previously focused on honouring individuals with a lifetime of achievement in the industry, the board is currently looking at how that might limit the diversity of inductees.
“We’ve talked about (diversity) since I’ve been on the board. The light is on it more and more now,” Stark explained. “We have tended to place a lot of weight, in the past, on people that have a long track record.”
The work of those in the ag industry with marginalized identities may not have been highlighted so prominently in the past, and it’s less common for women, Black, Indigenous, people of colour, or folks with other marginalized identities to have held positions of power in the industry.
The board looking to discuss what their future role will be to honour those individuals, Stark said. “That’s a very live conversation, and it’s on our agenda for our next meeting.”