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2024 March Conference Recap

2024 March Conference Recap

It’s Game Day

The 2024 Junior Farmers’ Association of Ontario (JFAO) March Conference was held in Peterborough, ON from March 22nd through 24th, 2024. This year’s conference theme was “It’s Game Day”, where we kicked off a new JFAO year and exercised team building and leadership skills.

See below for banquet photos and the video greeting from OMAFRA Minister Lisa Thompson.

Annual General Meeting

On Friday March 22nd, 2023 we started the morning off with JFAO’s Annual General Meeting (AGM). All executive reports were presented, we reviewed the financial statements and covered constitutional changes. JFAO Past President Carolyn Wren Doris was appointed as scrutineer to take us through the election process.


2024 JFAO Executive Directors and Organization Representatives

The Executive Committee is comprised of JFAO members from across the province who have been elected following the confirmation of Past President Jolande Oudshoorn of Huron-Perth / Wentworth-Niagara County Junior Farmers. Congratulations to the 2024 JFAO Execuitve Directors and Organization Representatives:

President – Carson Wagner, Oxford County Junior Farmers

Director of Programming – Keely Henderson, Renfrew County Junior Farmers

Director of Communications – Christena Jenkins-Giffen, Middlesex Junior Farmers

Executive Director of Finance – Karen De Bruyn, Oxford County Junior Farmers

Director of Community and International Programs – Sarah Danen, Oxford County Junior Farmers

East Zone Director – Dana Quinn, Carleton County Junior Farmers

Central Zone Director – Jack Vickers, Grey County Junior Farmers

West Zone Director – Hansford Mahon, Middlesex Junior Farmers

Social Media Representative – Hannah Arnold, Middlesex Junior Farmers

4-H Ontario Representative – Amelia Judge, Wellington County Junior Farmers

Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) Representative – Jordyn Domio, Wentworth-Niagara Junior Farmers *

*Carson Wagner of Oxford County Junior Farmers will continue to serve as the OFA Rep until the OFA AGM in November 2024. Then Jordyn will join the OFA Policy Council as the JFAO Representative.

Post AGM Activities

Following the AGM, we split into sports teams and were given bingo cards to fill in by networking with fellow attendees at March Conference.  Those who applied for an exchange this year had their interviews for the international exchange opportunity for 2024.

On Saturday, March 23, 2024, we travelled to Escape Maze located in Peterborough where we were welcomed with open arms to the entire facility. We continued with our sport’s teams and competed against each other at Tactical Lazer Tag and various escape rooms. It was an amazing experience being transported to another world while in the escape rooms and a good bonding experience. The main escape rooms are built within a converted barn which was really cool. We highly recommend this location to anyone travelling to Peterborough, ON.

2024 JFAO Annual Banquet

As always, the JFAO Annual Banquet is a highlight we all look forward to during March Conference. Arin Douglas of Wellington County Junior Farmers was our master of ceremonies for the night. Arin announced, “Tonight is about celebrating; celebrating the achievements of our clubs, celebrating the efforts of our members, and celebrating the great Junior Farmer community of alumni, family, friends, and partners that we have all around us.” At this time, we also inducted our new executive, presented the President’s pin, recognized retiring directors and announced the 2024 Provincial Chairity; Feed Ontario. There was also a silent auction which raised $570 for Feed Ontario.

Celebration of Lives

Our incoming President, Carson Wager shared, “The memories we form today are treasures that we hope can last a lifetime. But in honour of members, alumni, family and friends who have passed away over the past year, we light this candle in memory and ask that you please observe a moment of silence.”

Presentation of JFAO Travel Opportunities

“As the 2023 Executive Director of Community & International Programs, it is my honour to present the 2024 recipients of the JFAO Travel Opportunities and recognize last year’s delegates,” exclaimed Nic Willemsma of Essex-Kent Junior Farmers. We recognized Kelsey Brekelmans who went to Scotland, Elizabeth Bruce who went to Northern Ireland, Sarah Danen who went to the Republic of Ireland and Julie Milne who went to Switzerland in 2023. “I encourage everyone to consider an exchange – no matter how busy you may be, there will never be a better time to try to see another part of our country or the world – and from two weeks to six months, our exchanges offer something to accommodate everyone’s busy schedules,” urged Nic Willemsma. “This year our judges were Shannon Kelly, Mark Balkwell, and Sarah Teefy. Now, it gives me great pleasure to announce our recipients of the exchange opportunities for this year,” Nic continued.  For 2024, Keely Henderson is travelling to Switzerland, Kelsey Brekelmans is going to the Republic of Ireland, Julie De Bruyn is going to Austria, Jolande Oudshoorn is going to Northern Ireland and Christena Jenkins-Giffen is going to Scotland. Nic announced, “For the second year in a row, one bursary winner will receive an additional bursary in memoriam of Joyce Weber for their travels. Judges had a tough time deliberating. This year’s recipient is Christena Jenkins-Giffen.” Congratulations to all International Exchange participants!

Communications Awards

“Each year we invite our members to submit their work in a number of areas to showcase not only how they are promoting JF, but what they are doing in their mission to build future rural leaders through self-help & community betterment,” shared 2023 Executive Director of Communications Kelsey Brekelmans, as she presented the 2023 JFAO Communications Awards. Congratulations to the 2023 JFAO Communication Award Winners!

Best Joint Youth Event – Renfrew County Junior Farmers for their Farm Safety Day

Best Club Photo – Carleton County Junior Farmers

Best Written News Article Competition – Oxford County Junior Farmers on their Tractor Pull

Best New Member Recruitment Activity – Wellington County Junior Farmers

Scrapbook (original / digital) – Middlesex Junior Farmers

Best New Fundraising Idea – Carleton County Junior Farmers

Favourite Junior Farmer Memory – Christena Jenkins-Giffen, Middlesex Junior Farmers

Best Social Media Post – Renfrew County Junior Farmers

Congratulations to all the award winners and to all participating clubs!

Membership Awards

5-year Member Milestone

 Brant County Junior Farmers: Rea Vriends

Durham Region Junior Farmers: Joel Speers

Essex-Kent Junior Farmers: Derrick Leclair

Grey County Junior Farmers: Caden Martin, Christine Wyville,

Huron-Perth Junior Farmers: Jolande Oudshoorn

Middlesex Junior Farmers: Christena Jenkins-Giffen

Oxford County Junior Farmers: Amy Danen, Emily Danen, Preseley DeBruyn, Matt DeBruyn

Peterborough Junior Farmers: Maggie Doris, Liam Doris, Erik Darling, Rileigh Darling, Roxanne Teeuwsen,

Renfrew County Junior Farmers: Jocelyn Smaglinski, Katie Stewart

Stormont-Glengarry Junior Farmers: Dougie Robinson

Wellington County Junior Farmers: Arin Douglas

10-year Member Milestone

Durham Region Junior Farmers: Kate Johnston

Middlesex Junior Farmers: Will Johnson

Renfrew County Junior Farmers: Jamie Schultz

Wellington County Junior Farmers: Justin McNally, Hunter Woods, Jackie Shaw

Retiring Members:

 Meaghan Alton, Stephanie Mayes, Tina Wark, Alex Richardson, Drew De Bruyn, Jackie Shaw, and Justin McNally

2023 President’s Rose Awards

Jolande Oudshoorn, the 2023 JFAO President revealed, “The idea for the Rose awards was introduced at the very first JF effective speaking workshop – and it comes from a presentation called “flowers are for the living” – that is, the people who can appreciate them now. JFAO recognizes three outstanding members for their dedication and involvement.  Each of the individuals nominated demonstrates the JFAO mission to build future rural leaders through self-help and community betterment. This year, I had the help of three past presidents to help select our winners:  Angela Ackroyd-Tearle 2000, Jennifer Mitchell 2004, and Ellen Mason 2005.”

Congratulations to the 2023 JFAO President’s Rose Award Winners!

Outstanding Novice Member – Jeanette Schramm from Huron-Perth Junior Farmers

Outstanding Member – Carson Wagner, from Oxford County Junior Farmers

Outstanding Retiring Member – Tina Wark, from Grey County Junior Farmers

Club of the Year – Exemplary Contributions to Forwarding the Mission and Values of JFA – Congratulations to Oxford County Junior Farmers

Agricultural Club of the Year – Raised Agricultural Awareness in the Community – Congratulations to Middlesex Junior Farmers

Sunday Morning

To wrap up our 2024 March Conference, we rejoined our teams and participated in workshops with a focus on team building, communication and leadership skills lead by Elizabeth Bruce and Patrick Sullivan. We also answered sports related trivia to continue with our game day theme. We rounded the conference off with guest speaker Heather Richardson who was a linesperson in the gold medal game at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. She discussed her story on how sports impacted her life, highlighting a growth mindset, humility and fun. Afterwards, we finished with a slideshow of photos taken at March Conference by Amy Danen.

Thank You

We would like to show our appreciation for everyone that made March Conference possible, including our event sponsors. A big shoutout to our Conference Coordinator Hedi Danen, thank you for making March Conference Memorable! Jamie Schultz, outgoing Past President gave thanks to our Financial Administrator Susan Elliott, our Website Administrator Doug van Wolde and Fund Development Specialist Christine Wyville. A special shout out to Jacqui Dennis, our Office Administrator. Jamie shared, “Jacqui has been our office administrator since 2021. She wasn’t able to make it tonight, but we’d like to recognize her for her hard work and service she has provided Junior Farmers over the last couple of years. At the end of April, Jacqui will no longer be with us as she moves on to new adventures as she journeys out West. Luckily, we were able to recognize her wonderful efforts during our AGM yesterday.” Thank you to all of the March Conference Committee members and supporting JFAO members and alumni! We hope everyone enjoyed their time this year and look forward to next year’s March Conference set to be held in Niagara Falls, ON.

Message From Minister Lisa Thompson

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