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Who We Are
Building Leaders. Building Communities.
JFAO provides opportunities for young people age 15-29 of all backgrounds, but especially those in rural Ontario, to take on the challenge of exploring their individual talents and potential to develop personally while being involved in bettering their communities, networking, and having fun. JFAO’s mission is “To Build Future Rural Leaders, Through Self-Help and Community Betterment.”
Self-directed programs and opportunities provided by JFAO and its more than 20 affiliated clubs help to develop in members a sense of social and environmental responsibility, the ability to provide effective leadership, and an awareness of good citizenship within the community and world around them.
Members across the province have the opportunity to participate in exchanges with several countries and one province,
as well as provincial sport, cultural, and skills competitions.
Leadership Camp, Communications Workshops, March Conference, Director’s Training and the Ontario Young Farmers Forums round out JFAO’s personal development opportunities, not including the many locally organized inter-club challenges and events. JFAO also works with the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, 4-H Ontario and its own alumni to further increase the opportunities for youth in Ontario.
Each year JF members collectively donate upwards of $80,000 to charitable projects across the province, along with countless hours of volunteer service. A provincial charity is designated each year, a list of which can be found here on our website. JFAO also operates the Ontario Century Farm recognition program, which began as a centennial project in 1967.
The first JF clubs formed in 1914 in Durham, York, Peel, and Middlesex.
JFAO is a charitable organization established in 1944 with the support of the rural extension branch of the Ontario government, with a membership of approximately 10,000 at its peak. Today JFAO is funded solely with the support of members, donors and sponsors. JFAO’s annual fundraising golf tournament takes place every August at Guelph Lakes.
Details and registration for our annual golf tournament can be found under provincial events here on our website.
Executive – Representatives – Staff
Junior Farmers’ Association of Ontario
My name is Nicholas Weber and I have been involved with JFAO for more than 6 years now, both at the local and board levels. Currently I split my time between full time farming on our family-owned beef and sheep farm and as a parts counter sales rep at a local agricultural dealership. I look forward to leading JF forward for this year and years to come.
My name is Erich Weber and I am the Past President and Chair of the Board of Directors for JFAO. I was the 75th President, and served as the Executive Director of Finance for 5 years. I am currently a member of Waterloo JF. In 2012, I graduated with a degree in Agricultural Business Co-op from the University of Guelph and in 2017 received my CPA (Chartered Professional Accountant) designation. I am very excited to be in this new role and continuing to make a difference within Rural Ontario.
My name is Sophia Diebold, and I am the Executive Director of Community and International Programs. I started my JF career at the age of 15, where I was introduced to an amazing group of people and was presented with incredible opportunities. Through my time in this organization so far, I have grown so much as an individual that I aspired to become a JFAO executive. I am so excited to hold the position of CIP as international delegates is a personal highlight of JF for me. My family has hosted delegates twice a year for the past six years! I am excited to not only organize the incoming delegate, but to also send my peers across the globe to embark on the experience of a lifetime.
My name is Ben Straathof. I am your Executive Director of Finance for 2019. I have been involved with JF for a few years and looking forward to expanding my role.
My name is Christina Straathof and this is my second year on executive in this role. While originally a Renfrew County native, I am currently a member of Waterloo County JF. Prior to be elected to the board, I was Renfrew’s Provincial Director. I am looking forward to continue serving the members of JFAO by sharing and spreading the good word of the events and activities of members across the province.
My name is Kylie O’Neil and I am excited to be taking on the role as JFAO’s 2019 Executive Director of Programming. This is my eleventh year as a member of Middlesex JF. I am a kindergarten teacher and I help on my family’s dairy and cash crop farm. I enjoy leading 4-H clubs and spending time with friends. In this role, I look forward supporting clubs in providing quality, fun, and successful programs that benefit both members and communities in which they live.
My Name is Elizabeth Bruce and I am the Executive Director of the West Zone. I have been a member of Oxford County JF since 2015. I am an elementary school supply teacher as well as a support assistant at L’Arche London, a community of adults with and without intellectual disabilities. In my spare time, I help lead two 4-H life skills clubs and enjoy catching up with friends over ice cream. I’m excited to spend time and provide support to all of the clubs in the West Zone this upcoming year!
My name is Philip English, and I am first the Central Zone Director. I began my JF adventure as a member of the Kawartha JF club in 2008. During my years in JF, I have attended almost every single event several times, and held positions on the Kawartha Club exec including Provincial Director or Assistant PD for the past 6 years, and Vice President for the 2018 year. I have also helped with food booths, road clean-ups, work days, fundraisers, and ag education days which are just a few examples of community betterment projects that JFAO continues to provide at both the club and provincial levels. For this coming summer, I have been awarded the Scotland Travel exchange, thus continuing to explore all the opportunities that JFAO has to offer. Through holding this new position of Central Zone Director, I hope to meet with the clubs in my zone regularly to be able to better communicate their questions, concerns, and ideas with the executive and board of directors. I will also help create a more detailed outline for the future of this position.
My name is Patrick Sullivan. I am a member of Carleton JF and have been involved with the Carleton and University of Guelph clubs since 2014. I am currently studying agricultural science at Guelph and graduated from the University of Waterloo with a BA in 2017. I have been involved in the planning of several local events in Carleton. I am excited to take on the new role of East Zone Director and represent the zone at a provincial level.
My name is Celie Diebold and I am excited to represent JFAO as our 2019 4-H Representative! This is my first year apart of the JFAO board and I am thrilled! I have graduated from the University of Guelph with a degree in agricultural science and am still a member of the U of G JF club. I first joined JF in 2012 with the Waterloo club but moved to the U of G club when I started school. As far as 4-H, I was a 7 year member joining when I was 14. I was a part of various clubs and was a part of all the executives as well. I have since graduated as a 4-H member in December of 2017 and immediately became a leader with Brant County 4-H. I think there is so much opportunity for senior 4-H members to take a liking to junior farmers and I would like to help them make the transition to JF!
My name is Charlotte Huitema, and I have been a member of the Haldimand-Norfolk JF and JFAO for two years. I am a 3rd generation egg farmer and work full time on my family’s farm in Haldimand County. I was raised on a pig and egg farm. I graduated from Ridgetown College last April 2018 with an agriculture diploma. Before attending Ridgetown College, I completed the Recreation and Leisure Diploma at Mohawk College, and was recruited and played on the women’s varsity volleyball team. I have a real passion for being an egg-vacate. I am an egg ambassador for Egg Farmers of Ontario and enjoy sharing the importance of how eggs get from the farm to table at events across the province such as the CNE, RAWF, World Egg Day, elementary schools, and local fairs. I am involved in my local: Haldimand Federation of Agriculture and am aware of the important work that OFA does for agriculture in Ontario. I have also attended the Ontario Young Farmers Forum several times, and see the importance of the event being linked with the OFA. I plan to help strengthen the relationship between our two organizations, again with having the joint event with OFA-Ontario Young Farmers Forum. I will always make myself available if anyone has any questions or concerns regarding OFA information.
My name is Crystal Blake. I am very passionate about this amazing organization. I am a college graduate working in the agricultural industry for Jones Feed Mills Ltd, as their dispatch and quality control manager. I obtained my diploma from the University of Guelph (Ridgetown College) and furthered my studies at Olds College in Alberta earning my Bachelor of Applied Science in Agribusiness. I grew up on my family’s purebred Galloway cow-calf beef farm showing our cattle in Ontario, Saskatchewan, and in the United States. I have an extensive background in the agriculture industry with contacts in all fields, which I feel will be an asset in this role. I have been excited to hold roles not only locally at my county club, but I also held the role of JFAO’s 2017 Executive Director of Marketing and 2018 Executive Director of Agricultural Programs. I’ve also served as the 2016 Social Media Rep for JFAO, and plan to use my skills and knowledge from then to promote JFAO through all social media outlets this year.