The Norfolk Federation of Agriculture is planting seeds for the future of farming and the agricultural industry at large.
For the past several years, the local farm organization has annually awarded a scholarship to a student enrolled in a full-time agricultural or environmental science course leading to a degree or diploma.
Named for a long time supporter of the NFA who originally proposed the sponsorship, the Richard Walker Memorial Scholarship traditionally awards $750 to a local student. In some years, there have been no applications for the scholarship. But for 2016, there were a record five applications.
Enthused by the response and this year celebrating the 75th anniversary of the NFA, directors decided to give all five applicants the scholarship award.
Tanner Buch is a student at Delhi District Secondary School enrolling in a two-year program at Ridgetown with plans to earn a degree at the University of Guelph.
“I hope to be a farm operator in the Norfolk/Oxford area, specifically with a cash crop and hay farm,” he said. “I am hoping to make a career as a first generation farmer.”
Buch cited the importance of agriculture to society.
“Agriculture is under-valued in today’s world and should be recognized for providing all the food and fuel to other industries,” he said.
Tyler Butler of Delhi District Secondary School and attending the Ridgetown campus of the University of Guelph aims for an associate diploma in agriculture.
“I am looking forward to graduating…and continue working at Nightingale Farms as a crew leader and manager and furthering my knowledge of organics and greenhouse farming.” he said.
Bill Nightingale Jr. said Butler has worked at their operation since the age of 15.
“His interest and drive shines in the workplace and he will be very successful in whatever farming operation…,” Nightingale said. “Students like Tyler are much needed in Ontario for the future of agriculture in the province.”
Sandra Daniels attended Waterford District High School and is enrolled at Ridgetown’s veterinary technology program.
“In the future I would like to become a registered veterinary technician,” said Daniels, who is actively involved in her family’s dairy farm and volunteers at the Norwich Veterinary Clinic.
Brett Feeney of Holy Trinity Catholic High School will be attending the University of Guelph with hopes of obtaining a bachelor’s degree in environmental science.
“I have always had an interest in the environment and it has become a very valuable aspect of my life,” he said.
Feeney has been influenced by his family who have transformed their home with the installation of geothermal and solar energy sources.
“With my degree I hope to find a job in the environmental policy field where I can use research and economics to make a difference,” he said.
Drew Grummett of Port Dover Composite School is headed for the two-year agriculture program at Ridgetown.
Grummett has worked for five years at the Cider Keg and will be working at the University of Guelph Research Station this summer. She’s grown up working on her grandfather’s farm and growing her own crops and wants to make agriculture a career.
“I would like to change the statistics on young farmers entering the field of agriculture,” she said. “There are so many opportunities for young farmers in the agriculture industry in Norfolk County.”
Originally published in Norfolk Farms, March 2017, by Media Pro Publishing, 519-429-0847.