Young farmers from across the country will swap their coveralls for dress clothes as they head to Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers’ 29th annual event in Calgary in November.
The national event honours young farmers who demonstrate excellence in their profession and promote the contribution of agriculture. This year it will include western tours, honouree presentations and a Banff excursion.
Earlier this year, winners were announced for each of the seven regions in Canada – two of which will be named national winners.
Duane and Christie Movald from Breton, Alberta, are one of the young couples who will travel to Calgary to take part in the national competition. They were named the 2008 Alberta winners at an event on July 8 at the Calgary Stampede.
Duane and Christie, along with their two children, Thomas and Emily, operate Movald Ranch at Breton. Movald Ranch is a mixed farm with a purebred cow-calf operation. They have 370 breeding females and operate 2,320 acres. The Movalds were selected according to the progress made in their agricultural career, maximum utilization of soil, water and energy conservation practices, crop and livestock production history, financial and management practices and their contributions to the well-being of the community, province and nation.
Ten years ago, Richard and Marian Stamp of Stamp’s Select Seeds of Enchant were the Alberta winners. They went on to become national winners that year as well. Stamp is now the president of Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers Board of Directors. He is a strong promoter of agriculture as a career choice for young people.
His goal as president is to raise the profile of the organization and the agricultural industry in general. “My aim is to make it exciting for young farmers to be involved any way they can, and to strength the rural-urban connection,” says Stamp.
“It’s so hard for young farmers today – all they hear is doom and gloom, but I’m an eternal optimist,” he says, noting that Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers is a positive platform for agriculture.
Young farmers need a good education, dedication to the work, and the ability to think on their feet, says Stamp, whose oldest son just started farming with him. “You have to work hard at it,” he says.
Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers is open to participants 18 to 39 years of age, making the majority of income from on-farm sources. Judges award points based on the following criteria: environmentally friendly farm practices, farm progress, production history, financial progress, and contribution to community, province and nation, oral interviews and a national event power-point presentation.
Stamp says the organization is powered by previous nominees and winners, as well as sponsors. There are 420 alumni, many of whom are directly involved in the industry as agricultural ministers, board members and managing partners in various organizations.
The Outstanding Young Farmers Program was established by a local Junior Chamber of Commerce in the United States, and was adopted as an official program of the U. S. Junior Chamber of Commerce in 1954. In 1979, the Calgary Jaycees, with the support of the Alberta/Northwest Territories Region Jaycees, proposed the introduction of a similar program at their national convention. It was adopted as an official program of the Canadian Junior Chamber/Jaycees, with its first national recognition program held in 1980.