The Junior Farmers Association has been revived in Waterloo Region.
After nearly eight years of inactivity a new club has formed under the watchful eye of Barclay Nap and Graham Johnston, who are both Junior Farmer alumni volunteers working with the club as mentors until the group becomes self-sufficient and understands the program.
Currently the club has 12 members who meet monthly to plan their community involvement, organize monthly socials and learn about parliamentary procedures. For the next few months the club will be trying to meet the requirements to become an official club with the Junior Farmers Association of Ontario (JFAO).
“There are guidelines that have to be met each year which help fulfill the mission statement of provincial junior farmers which is to build future rural leaders through self help and community betterment. The focus is on developing leadership and volunteer skills,” said Nap during a phone interview.
The club first began in the early part of the 20th century when most of Ontario was rural. Sons of farmers who didn’t have the opportunity to go to college or university were taught advancements in agriculture through universities and the provincial government. In 1914 one group of young farmers took some of the information they have learned and applied it to their community in a broader scale. This group formed into a social club and by 1944 developed into the provincial association of the JFAO.
The club is open to anyone interested in joining and provides opportunities for young people age 15 to 29 of all backgrounds, but especially those in rural Ontario. Members take on the challenge of exploring their individual talents and potential to develop personally while being involved in bettering their communities and networking.
“For those young men and women in Waterloo (Region) the club offers a chance to be social with other youth that have similar background and interests while being part of a group where leadership and volunteering skills are taught and applying those skills in the community,” said Nap.
This summer members of the regional club have adopted part of Nafziger Road to clean it up and have held a learn-to-square-dance night in Winterbourne as square dancing is something that is part of rural Ontario’s culture, he said.
Provincially the group is capable of participating in exchanges with other rural youth programs in other parts of the world. There are provincial competitions that have clubs competing against other clubs in different sporting, cultural and agricultural based competitions.
To display the diversity of agriculture in the region, the club is hosting a Mystery Farm Bus Tour on July 20. For the cost of $20 guests will have a day of visiting local farm businesses with each location on the tour showcasing the finest in agriculture across the region.
The new club meets on the first Sunday of the month at the New Hamburg Community Centre. For more information about the organization contact the club at firstname.lastname@example.org.