Rotary Club honours farmers, awards scholarships

The annual farmers' appreciation dinner on June 20, saw a coming together of farmers, ranchers, dignitaries and community members.

The annual farmers’ appreciation dinner on Monday, June 20, saw the Stettler Community Hall full of farmers, ranchers, dignitaries and community members, with the latter two coming to show their appreciation for the agriculture industry.

County of Stettler Reeve Wayne Nixon and Town of Stettler Councillor Malcolm Fischer presented greetings on behalf of their municipal bodies.

The event, hosted by the Rotary Club of Stettler, started with a catered dinner and then segued into the presentation of scholarships. This year, three $1,000 scholarships were handed out, courtesy of support from MNP, a financial consulting firm, the Royal Bank of Canada and the Stettler Veterinary Clinic.

The three scholarship winners were Angela Gendre, Jordan McCallum and MacKenzie Hankins.

Gendre recently finished her practicum as a veterinary technical assistant, and is now employed at the Stettler Veterinary clinic. Hankins has been conditionally accepted to university and is pursuing a dream of being a veterinarian — which will take eight years to do, she told the crowd.

McCallum spoke to the crowd last, explaining that he switched his focus in post-secondary to agriculture mechanics, because he liked working on machinery on the farm and preferred working with his hands rather than doing “paperwork,” eliciting a chuckle from the crowd.

After the presentations, Jordan Webber spoke about solar power. Webber is the economic development officer for Starland County, which has some of the largest solar installations in Western Canada. The county won a Municipal Excellence Award in innovation in 2015 for its on-farm solar power program.

Webber explained that solar power, in the past decade, has advanced by leaps and bounds and is now a truly feasible option for the agricultural industry — not just larger businesses, but for individual farmers as well. With the amount of sunlight available in Western Canada, Alberta is situated perfectly for solar power generation, he said.

He spoke about the technological advances as well as advances on the side of the energy companies that make it cost-effective to install solar relays. When the relays were first installed, Webber noted they were expensive and cost money, rather than saved money. Within a decade, that had completely reversed itself.