2017 IPM Trust Fund Scholarship continues match's legacy through youth
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
In 2017, Huron County, specifically Walton, played host to the 100th International Plowing Match (IPM) and the leaders of that event aimed to leave something behind for the youth of the region for years to come.
That legacy lives on today, as six local students received money from the 2017 IPM Trust Fund Scholarship late last month at the Huron County Plowing Match. The recipients were Amanda Morrison of Brussels, Lauren Oke of Exeter, Josie Murray of Seaforth, Bobby McLachlan of Seaforth, Jacob Renon of Goderich and Hunter McCullagh of Brussels.
Originally dubbed the IPM Legacy Fund, the motivation behind the annual scholarship was that it would be supported by enough money to provide students with scholarships for between 20 and 25 years, which was about the frequency with which Huron County has hosted an IPM over the years.
When Huron hosts its next IPM, organizers hoped, the coffers would again be topped up and the scholarship would live for another two decades.
All organizers needed was a profitable IPM in 2017, but they didn’t get off to a great start when Mother Nature made life difficult for them on the first day of the match. A wrench was thrown into their plans when a torrential downpour on the opening day of the match resulted in the closure of the site for two days, leaving just three of the traditional five days for the site to be open to the public.
However, despite those challenges and setbacks, the match was still able to generate a profit of several hundred thousand dollars, all of which they aimed to reinvest into the community in one way or another. Nearly $500,000 was set aside to be donated to local charities or for the Huron IPM 2017 Trust Fund Scholarship over the next 25 years.
In early 2018, the 2017 IPM Committee held its final all-chairs meeting in Blyth. There, those assembled heard that the match had a local economic impact of just under $4.5 million.
Even with the weather-related closure on Sept. 20, 76,562 people passed through the IPM’s gates in Walton. Research found that each person averaged 1.5 visits and that the match saw just under 50,000 unique visitors.
The lunch committee said they made 4,700 sandwiches over the course of week, while Matt Townsend, head of the RV park, said they nearly sold out of campsites with 1,326 sites sold, only nine short of a sell-out.
At the special meeting of the committee chairs, held on Feb. 27, 2018 at Blyth Cowbell Brewing Company, Bishop said that in the six months since the match, the committee’s impact had been felt throughout the community.
“Not a day goes by that I don’t hear a comment thanking us for what a great job we did,” Bishop said. “I’m very proud to have been involved and we did make a difference.”
In early 2019, those behind the successful IPM from a year-and-a-half earlier, officially created the Huron IPM 2017 Trust Fund Scholarship, a grant resource for local youth pursuing an education in agriculture. With $250,000 dedicated to the fund, the goal, according to Bishop, was to hand out scholarships for 25 years, which would hopefully bridge the gap to the next Huron-hosted IPM (the county has an unofficial tradition of hosting an IPM every 20 years or so), after which the coffers could be replenished.
The fund, Bishop explained in an interview with The Citizen, is available to applicants entering their second, third or fourth year of post-secondary education, whether it be college, university or a trades school or apprenticeship. The IPM was always focused on the youth and the future of Ontario, Bishop said, and this legacy fund will be a way for the local match to invest in the county’s young people decades after the event was held.
The thinking behind the fund, Bishop said, was not only to leave a lasting legacy, but to help inspire the youth of Huron County for years to come. She said that the first year of post-secondary education is often planned for, but that bills can mount in the second year of a program, which is why IPM committee members structured the fund the way they did.
While members of the IPM executive couldn’t necessarily plan for the fund before the match was held, Bishop said some form of a legacy fund had been on the lips of members since the early stages of planning.
“From day one it was our vision to leave a legacy after the match,” Bishop said. “We were hoping and praying to have enough to leave that legacy after the match.”
While the scholarship fund alone will inject $250,000 into the community over the next quarter-century, members of the IPM executive have been donating funds raised through the 2017 IPM to worthy county-wide causes after initial donations were rolled out at that final all-chairs meeting, held in early 2018.
“We wanted to make one-time donations to four [non-profit organizations] that touch the lives of all Huron County residents,” Bishop said.
The executive donated $20,000 to the Huron Residential Hospice, followed by further $20,000 donations to Jessica’s House hospice in Exeter, the Huron County Food Bank Distribution Centre and the Wingham and District Hospital’s new oncology unit. The Wingham donation helped fund the unit’s kitchen area, which has since been named after the IPM.
The food bank donation, Bishop said, fit with the IPM’s agricultural mandate in that it helped the centre to purchase a new refrigerated delivery truck to ensure that healthy, fresh food can be delivered to those in need, rather than preserved foods.
This comes after the executive donated over $100,000 at the beginning of 2018 to 55 organizations. Funds were distributed to committee chairs in $2,000 portions to each committee to be donated to local organizations. In addition, over $40,000 was donated to local service clubs that volunteered at the event.
The committee donations were handed out as follows:
• Huron 4-H Tent Chair Jolande Oudshoorn donated $2,000 to the Huron County 4-H Leaders’ Association
• Accessibility Chair Charlene O’Reilly donated $1,500 to the Huron Respite Network and $500 to Dream Big 2018 – Foundations Huron
• Accommodations Chair Cindy Fisher donated $2,000 to Huron Residential Hospice
• Administration Chair Corrie Forbes donated $1,000 to the Huron County 4-H Association and $1,000 to Community Living
• Airport Chairs Kevin Melady and Al Murray donated $2,000 to the Tanner Steffler Foundation
• Auctioneer Chair Kevin McArter donated $1,000 to the Tanner Steffler Foundation and $1,000 to the Brussels Optimist Club
• Antiques Chairs Bill Roper and Lorne Glanville donated $1,000 to the Wingham Salvation Army and $1,000 to the Huron Pioneer Thresher and Hobby Association
• Beautification Chair Deb Falconer donated $2,000 to the Huron Respite Network
• Brussels Fall Fair Chair Matt Cardiff donated $2,000 to the Brussels, Morris and Grey Recreation Committee
• Education Chairs Peggy Sloan and Crystal White donated $2,000 to the Huron County Children’s Aid Society’s Send a Kid to Camp program
• Emergency Services Chair Marty Bedard donated $1,000 to the Girl Guides of Canada Ontario Council and $1,000 to Victim Services of Huron County
• Entertainment Chair Rick Sickinger donated $1,000 to the Blyth Centre for the Arts while fellow Chair Sherry McCall donated $1,000 to the Blyth Festival Young Company
• Gates Chair Jack McLachlan donated $1,000 to the Tanner Steffler Foundation and $1,000 to Habitat for Humanity
• Internal Communications Chair Brad Vanstone donated $2,000 to the Benmiller Hall
• Landscaping Chair Karen Redmond donated $1,000 to the Huron Residential Hospice (in addition to the planting of a tree and placement of an IPM bench at the site) and $1,000 to the Tanner Steffler Foundation
• Lifestyles Chairs Brenda Dalton and Cheryl Ryan donated $1,000 to the Walton Park Committee and $1,000 to the Winthrop Park Committee
• Lunches Chairs Ann Bosman, Val Bolton and Val Pethick donated $1,000 to the Walton Community Hall and $1,000 to the Winthrop Park Committee
• Marketing and Public Relations Chairs Emily Morrison and Christy Little donated $2,000 to the St. Anne’s Catholic Secondary School’s new agriculture scholarship fund
• Opening and Closing Ceremonies Chairs Jenna Ujiye and Florence Witherspoon donated $2,000 to the Goderich Little Theatre
• Parade Chairs Gary and Lori Pipe donated $1,000 to the North Huron Community Food Share and $1,000 to Victim Services Huron County
• Parking Chair Steve Hallahan donated $2,000 to the Tanner Steffler Foundation
• Horse Plowing Chair Lyle Haney donated $2,000 to the Seaforth Agricultural Society
• Princess Competition Chair Barb Terpstra donated $2,000 to the Seaforth All-Girls Marching Band
• Queen of the Furrow and Celebration of Excellence Chair Melissa Veldman donated $1,000 to the Sunshine Foundation, Huron-Perth Division and $1,000 to the Thames Road-Elmville United Church
• Quilt Chair Linda O’Rourke donated $2,000 to the Seaforth Hospital Auxiliary
• Sanitation Chair Ben Driscoll donated $1,500 to the Huron County Food Bank and $500 to the Tanner Steffler Foundation
• Signage Chairs Ken Scott and Gerry VandenHengel donated $2,000 to the Huron County Food Bank Distribution Centre
• Sponsorship Chairs Graeme Craig (who passed away earlier this year) and Erin Robinson donated $1,000 to the Tanner Steffler Foundation and $1,000 to OneCare’s cancer drivers program
• Souvenirs Chair Allan Carter donated $2,000 to the Huron County fire departments for specialized training
• Tented City Chair Gerry Wheeler donated $2,000 to the Goderich-to-Guelph Rail Trail
• Tractor Park Chair Steve Haney donated $1,000 to the Seaforth Agricultural Society and $1,000 to the Seaforth Curling Club
• Traffic Chairs Don Hastings and Dave Jacklin donated $2,000 to the Huron East Fire Department’s Brussels Division
• VIP Chairs Brenda Campbell and Shelley McGavin donated $1,000 to the Tanner Steffler Foundation and $1,000 to the Alzheimer Society of Huron County
• Volunteer Chairs Lori Vanstone and Mary Garriock donated $2,000 to Community Living-Central Huron
• Wagon Tours Chairs Kevin Deitner and Don Baan donated $2,000 to the United Way of Perth-Huron’s Huron County partners
• 4-H Invitational Show Chair Kayla Bishop donated $2,000 to the Huron County 4-H Association
• Website Chair Monique Baan donated $1,000 to the Blyth Festival and $1,000 to the Huron County 4-H Association
• Worship Chair Gary Clark donated $2,000 to the Alzheimer Society of Huron County.
Jane Zwep donated money back to the local schools that aided in the construction of IPM benches: $650 to St. Helens Amish Fairview School, $1,070 to Central Huron Secondary School, $512 to St. Anne’s Catholic Secondary School and $1,768 to F.E. Madill Secondary School.
Matt Townsend, chair of the IPM’s RV park, said at the time that he hoped to use his $2,000 to strike a partnership with Huron-Bruce MPP Lisa Thompson to bring an esteemed speaker to Huron County to speak to local emergency responders on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Executive donations included: Lynne Godkin donated $2,000 to the Huron Women’s Shelter; Roger Robertson donated $2,000 to the Belmore Skating Club; Brian McGavin donated $1,000 to the Huron County 4-H Sodbusters Club and $1,000 to the Alzheimer Society of Huron County; Marlene Munn donated $1,000 to the local Big Brothers and Big Sisters and $1,000 to the Ronald McDonald House; Jeff McGavin donated $2,000 to the F.E. Madill robotics program; Mallory Kernighan donated $1,000 to the Salvation Army’s Out of the Cold program and $1,000 to the Huron County 4-H Association; Paul Dodds donated $2,000 to the Goderich Healthy Hearts program and Chair Jacquie Bishop donated $1,000 to the Huron Residential Hospice and $1,000 to the Huron County Food Bank Distribution Centre.