March Conference looked different this year for the Junior Farmer Association of Ontario (JFAO) as they switched to a virtual format with the theme of “A Hoot and A Half from Home”. With workshops, speakers and the banquet being held using Zoom, the focused remained on networking with members from across the province, sharing ideas with other clubs, learning about a variety of topics and of course, fun.
March Conference is designed to bring members from throughout the province to gather for a great weekend of leadership, networking and to recognize those who have shown outstanding community betterment. JFAO had two socials including a line dancing night and one where they learned how to make balloon animals.
The Saturday was full of activity with the keynote speaker starting the day off talking about how to recognize volunteer burnout and strategies to ensure that members of the various clubs feel supported in their roles. Following this was a club roundtable where members were split into breakout rooms to discuss topics like club socials, successful fundraising projects and new member recruitment ideas. In another session, JFAO members learned about local food and direct farm sales during COVID-19 from representatives from OFA and OMAFRA. The afternoon concluded with an exciting cooking workshop where members tuned in from their kitchens to follow along and make delicious bread in a bag and hot chocolate bombs. Their annual awards banquet was held in the evening where members brought their own supper to eat in breakout rooms while socializing.
Awards were presented for different milestones, our new board of directors was inducted with a candlelight ceremony and we enjoyed entertainment from comedian Jeff Estrela. The club of the year award was presented to North Simcoe Junior Farmers. The Agriculture club of the year went to Huron Perth Junior Farmers. The Rose Awards were given to an outstanding Novice JF member; Arin Douglas from Wellington JF, an outstanding JF member; a pair of ladies from Huron Perth, Lauren Bos & Jolande Oudshoorn, and an outstanding retiring member, Quintina Cuddihy. Our communication awards were also presented during the banquet. The winner of Best Social Media Post was Stormont – Glengarry. Winner of multiple categories including: News Article Competition, Best New Member Recruitment, Best Community Betterment Club Photo, Best Century Farm Sign Photo, Best New Fundraising Idea was Huron Perth. Winner of the Best Pandemic Club Social was Renfrew.
Congratulations to all the winners and we look forward to the year ahead. March Conference marks the end of one Junior Farmer year and starts off the next year. With this, our 2020 President Elizabeth Bruce, from Oxford County, passed off the Presidential duties to the 78th President Kylie O’Neil of Middlesex County.