Another Day, Another Zone: Zone 2

Zone 2 Exchange

The delegates had yet another couple of busy weeks in zone two! Each delegate had some highlights they would like to share as well!

Kate Johnson of Durham West said they started off the week by taking the delegates to the Pan Am torch at Uxbridge Town Hall, Greenwood Mushroom Farm, Ocala Winery, a BBQ lunch and then went to Hop Hill Horse Farm, Mustards Dairy tour and Crop tour, Richters Herbs and shopping. They also had time to spend with their host families to get to know them better! To finish off the week they went to a cottage overnight, Reesors Elevator, Bob Stones Chicken farm, the Stoffville market and Kate Johnson’s beef farm tour. The final event was a potluck supper send off and bonfire at Eriks.

Angela McDonald from Kawartha said “Our zone had a lot of fun with the delegates! At the start of the week we all spent quite a lot of time together. We went to the Warsaw Caves near Peterborough, cowboy boot shopping, the beach, winery tour, shopping in Bobcaygeon, and a lacrosse game in Peterborough. Friday we didn’t try to meet up so I’m not sure what everyone got up to, but Beatrice, Caroline, Lisa, and I went on a beef farm tour and then to a world renowned taxidermist where we saw some iconic Canadian animals including a polar bear. We all left that evening for Redneck Games in Carlton where the girls met their next hosts.”  Lisa’s highlights of the last two weeks were the mushroom farm, getting to see the Belgian show horses and getting see the pan am games torch go through Uxbridge where they got to meet the mayor, going to Vanshaiks dairy farm to milk in their tie stall barn and finding an Irish cow ! Seeing Ron’s taxidermy was really cool they got to see polar bears and found out he has shipped animals to Ireland for the filming of Vikings! Caroline’s highlights included the mushroom farm tour, party with everyone at Erik’s house, and the dairy farm tours. Beatrice’s highlights were the mushroom farm, wheat spraying with Erik, chicken wings evening with dance, winery, the caves, milking, and the “private” farm walk with Angela where she showed her, her farm and crops (corn, soybeans and wheat). Beatrice said she learned a lot from Angela!  Christina’s highlights were the mushroom farm, maple sugar farm, pistol club, and being the special guest at the Becca’s mom’s teaching class.

Gillian’s highlights were the mushroom farm and the 105 dance, although she said she really enjoyed the last two weeks in general!

A huge thank you goes out to Jeffery Wilson, Kate Johnson, Joel Speers and Erik Kressibucher of Durham West as well as, Rebecca Keitel of Peterborough, Tricia Staples, Angela McDonald and Nicole Sproxton of Kawartha for hosting in zone two!! Another big thank you goes out to everyone who hosted tours and spent time driving our international guests these past two week! The delegates have now moved on to zone 1 where they will stay with Renfrew for two weeks enjoying eastern Ontario! Check out the Renfrew County Junior Farmer Facebook page for a schedule of events on the upcoming two weeks and how you can get involved!

International Delegates in Zone 3

International Delegates in Zone 3 at Blue Jays game

On May 22nd our first two international delegates arrived with Gillian Stewart from Scotland and Lisa Walsh from the Republic of Ireland. After only a slight detour and traffic jam they arrived at their first host in Peel County. Carolin Westerkamp and Beatrice Hadorn arrived on May 23rd to join the other two followed by an exciting week with Peel Junior Farmers!

The delegates went to all the major attractions in Toronto including the CN Tower, a Blue Jays game and the Toronto Zoo. They travelled up to Elora for the new Elora Dairy research barn open house and visited the Johnston’s Dairy barn in New Dundee as well as a few other farms including a mink farm and the Deboer Family Farm.

The delegates ended their first week with JFAO’s new All Ontario Judging Competition. The girls had a lot of fun and learned a lot about what judging in Ontario is all about! Gillian said she was used to judging animals at home but she had never had to give reasons before, as they only do that after you make it to a certain level, and they only judge livestock at home. Judging crops and plants was an entirely new experience. Lisa said she really enjoyed learning all the reasons behind selections and seeing how she was right or wrong. Beatrice was excited to have won “the best delegate” award.

The second week in zone 3 was also a busy and exciting week with the Wellington club! The final delegate, Christina Poganitsch of Austria arrived on May 31st in the wee hours of the morning. Luckily enough member Claire Johnston lives really close to the airport and was kind enough to pick her up and give her a place to sleep!

The girls started off the week with a local winery tour, and tried out the trampolines at Air You! There they discovered the challenge of getting out of the foam pit! They ended the night with a lot of laughs as they enjoyed some entertaining minute to win it games! They spent Monday in Elora touring the Beef Research Facility and the old Dairy Research Facility as well as exploring the gorge by repelling down the side of it! It was defiantly a face your fears kind of moment as you put your life in the hands of the instructor! They ended the day by touring the local racetrack. They received a behind the scenes tour and learned about the racing industry and what it all takes to run the races and they even got to ride in the start car on the track during one of the races. Tuesday was a break day where they still decided to visit me on my dairy farm, van der Meulen Dairy! Wednesday Wellington toured them to several farms including Rivers Edge, a goat dairy that produced their own goat cheese and milk, a new dairy barn with sand and three Lely robot s, a tie stall dairy, a fish farm and Woodland Carriage Company, which is a company that makes Mennonite buggy wheels! The delegates really enjoyed learning about the Mennonite culture and taking a ride in the buggy! The day ended with a car rally and a campfire. Thursday was spent at the Elora Fish Farm Research center, touring the DHI lab and finally they ended their day learning to line dance and ride a mechanical bull.

The week wrapped up with Leadership camp. Leadership camp was full of meeting new friends, learning new skills and swatting away pesky mosquitoes that seemed to be extra attracted to the Irish blood! A couple of highlights from the weekend were kayaking and capture the mascot! Video will be posted soon, so keep an eye on the Junior Farmer Facebook page!

When I asked what they liked the most about Zone 3 the highlights included repelling, kayaking, the mascots at leadership camp, harness racing, riding in the start car, sight seeing in Toronto , the blue Jays game and meeting new people.

The delegates have just arrived in Zone 2 so keep an eye out for them with Durham West, Peterborough and Kawartha over the next two weeks!

I would like to thank Claire Johnston and Casie Deboer of Peel and Katherine Clyne, Elbert Bouwman and Jess Nibourg of Wellington for hosting in Zone 3! You can learn so much from hosting a delegate! There is still plenty of opportunity to host this year by hosting one of the Welsh or Belgium delegates in November!! Contact me at for hosting opportunities or to discover how you can have a unique travel experience through JFAO!


Jen van der Meulen

Executive Director of Community and International Program

Pre-Exchange Report – Courtney Steven (Switzerland)

Courtney Steven is a Junior Farmer in Perth JF

This summer, eight lucky Junior Farmers are leaving Ontario to explore the world around us. Follow along on the JFAO blog as we hear from the JF Travellers before, during, and after their big adventure!

This past winter through the Junior Farmers Association of Ontario I was given the opportunity to explore my passion for traveling by applying for an international exchange! Every year JFAO accepts exchange applications for international and provincial travel opportunities to Australia, Austria, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, UK, the Republic of Ireland, Wales, and PEI. I decided to apply for this travel opportunity in the summer of 2013 when I first met the international delegates when Perth County was hosting. I heard about their experience here and their lives back home and I knew that I wanted to do this. In 2013 I made friends from Scotland, England, Northern Ireland, Austria, Germany, and Switzerland; that fall I made friends from Wales. In 2014 I made more friends from the same countries as well as friends in the Republic of Ireland and Tasmania! Now on June 15th, 2015 I begin the adventure of a lifetime as I make my way to Switzerland for 3 months.

In 2013 I graduated from Lakehead University with an HBa Kinesiology. As I arrived home many of my friends had moved away and I found myself looking for something new. That is when a friend brought me out to the newly re-established Perth County Junior Farmer Club. Not having a farming background I was hesitant about joining but I soon discovered all the great work that Junior Farmers do in their community and I jumped right in. Since then I have made hundreds of friends across the province (and the world) and gotten involved in my community and other local organizations!

My adventure of a lifetime began in the fall of 2014 when applications opened for 2015 exchanges; it took a while but by March 1st, 2015 I had finished my application and sent it in to JFAO’s Community and International Exchange Director. The next step was to wait for interviews. March 28th, 2015 in London, ON when JFAO hosted its annual AGM and Conference, this is where the interviews were held. The interview included a test about JFAO, Ontario, and Canada; an interview with a panel of judges; and a short presentation about myself and why I wanted to go on exchange. Then it was back to waiting, but only for 36 hours this time! The following evening at JFAO’s evening banquet myself and 8 other exchange applicants patient awaited the announcement of exchange winners. Finally, after almost 2 years of anticipation the moment was here…”and the exchange to Switzerland goes to: Courtney Steven!” So, the planning began; hearing from the Switzerland Young Farmers, filling out paperwork, writing bio’s, booking my flight, planning my adventure, and figuring out what to bring! During this trip I am looking forward to making many many new friends, expanding my agricultural knowledge, and learning about the different cultures and traditions in Switzerland! For more information about me and to follow my journey follow my blog at!


Courtney Steven is a Junior Farmer in Perth JF. Follow along with her adventures at!

Pre-Exchange Report – Graydon Bowman (Germany)

Graydon Bowman - Junior Farmer in Durham East JF

It is with great excitement I begin to prepare for my exchange to Germany. I was awarded the exchange at Junior Farmers’ annual March Conference held this year in London. I will be staying in Lower Saxony for five weeks starting in the beginning of June.

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Kurtis Smith – Wales Exchange Report 2014

Kurtis Smith Exchange to Wales 2014

After returning from volunteering with Habitat for Humanity in New Zealand in February, I quickly decided that I wanted to apply for a JFAO exchange to explore and experience another part of the world! At March Conference I was awarded with what

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Junior Farmers travels to Wales on JFAO Exchange

Junior Farmers travels to Wales on JFAO Exchange

When I found out that I had been accepted for a JFAO exchange, I was so excited and nervous as it was my first trip to the other side of the world! But shortly after this news I found out that I wasn’t going to be the only JF in Wales at the time, Kurtis Smith had

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