Churchbridge, SK (January 20, 2017) – Former farmers and Quebec regional Outstanding Young Farmer (OYF) winners Sylvain Gascon and France Brunet were recently honoured as recipients of the 2016 W.R. Motherwell Award by Canada’s OYF program. The award was presented at the national event in Niagara Falls, Ontario last month.
Sylvain and France’s involvement in OYF began in 1997 when they were selected as honourees for the Quebec region, and have since attended the national event nearly every year. Through their actions and outgoing nature, they have helped to bring the Quebec OYF alumni closer to the rest of the alumni.
“As soon as he joined the OYF organization, Sylvain gave himself the mandate to bring the various provinces participating in the program closer, notably by finding options to eliminate the language barrier,” says Canada OYF President Luanne Lynn. “Sylvain spent a lot of effort and energy to ensure the OYF program became entirely bilingual. Today, the translation service is permanent and present at all levels of the program, and we owe that to Sylvain Gascon.”
Drawing on his past experiences and hoping to make the agricultural sector better known to the public at large, Sylvain is often called upon by the media to provide his opinions on various agricultural issues. He is known as a person who is skilled at presenting his agricultural work in simple terms, and because he is credible and knowledgeable, reporters who have worked with him mention his ability to explain problems.
“My work as a reporter has brought me to meet, interview and discuss with Sylvain at various moments of my career,” says Pascale Tremblay, a well-known agronomist/TV host in Quebec. “When he attended my shows, it quickly became apparent that Sylvain had the ability to present his work in agriculture in simple terms and in such a way that he has become an important guest on numerous occasions.”
Sylvain has always been extremely involved in the farming sector and dedicated in the promotion of dairy production in Quebec and Canada. In 1984, after starting up in a non-traditional way, he became owner of Ferme Chatrac, a dairy operation he ran with his wife France until 2006.
Even after Sylvain and France decided to sell their dairy herd they remained connected to agriculture through many ventures, including making sheep cheese and managing a local farmers market. They also set out on a cross-country journey in 2013, stopping to visit over 70 OYF farms and alumni along the way. Now very active in social media, Sylvain is a farmer trying to find intelligent and logical solutions to today’s farming problems. He is an ambassador and a remarkable communicator for Canadian agriculture.
“Sylvain and France are true examples of OYF ambassadors,” said Ontario OYF Alumni Doug and Joan Cranston. “They have both worked tirelessly to help build the OYF program into what it is today through their contributions to the Quebec regional program, several Quebec hosting committees and on the National Board. We both feel very honoured and lucky to be able to call them our friends.”
Dr. Motherwell, the namesake of the W.R. Motherwell Award, was born near Perth, Ontario in 1860. His leadership in Canadian agriculture spanned more than 50 years and he is regarded by many as the “grand old man of Canadian agriculture.” His career highlights include minister of agriculture in Saskatchewan’s first provincial government, and minister of agriculture for Canada in the 1920s. Having attended agricultural college in Guelph, Ontario, his move to Saskatchewan resulted in his instrumental role in establishing the agriculture facility at the University of Saskatchewan. Dr. Motherwell died in 1943 at the age of 83.
On the 25th anniversary of the OYF program, the W.R. Motherwell Award was established. The award is presented annually, on behalf of OYF alumni across Canada, to an individual or couple who has demonstrated excellence in leadership and dedication to both the OYF program and Canadian agriculture.
More information about the OYF W.R. Motherwell Award is available at oyfcanada.com under Nominations. The deadline for nominations for the 2017 award is March 31, 2017.
Celebrating 37 years, Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers’ program is an annual competition to recognize farmers that exemplify excellence in their profession and promote the tremendous contribution of agriculture. Open to participants 18 to 39 years of age, making the majority of income from on-farm sources, participants are selected from seven regions across Canada, with two national winners chosen each year. The program is sponsored nationally by CIBC, John Deere, Bayer, and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada through Growing Forward 2, a federal, provincial, territorial initiative. The national media sponsor is Annex Business Media, and the program is supported nationally by AdFarm, BDO and Farm Management Canada.
Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers for 2017 will be chosen at the National Event in Penticton, British Columbia from November 29 – December 3, 2017.