Auburn's Oudshoorn elected provincial Junior Farmers president
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
Late last month, the Junior Farmers of Ontario elected Jolande Oudshoorn of the Auburn area as their 80th president. This comes exactly 20 years since the last Huron County resident, Mary Feldskov, was president of the provincial organization.
Oudshoorn was nominated anonymously for the position (nominations can come from clubs throughout the province as well as members of the executive, but they are kept a secret) and let her name stand, after spending the last year as a member of the executive, serving as the provincial group’s director of finance. However, her election was not a slam dunk, as she was opposed by a member of the Oxford County Junior Farmers, triggering a proper election.
In an interview with The Citizen, Oudshoorn said there was a question-and-answer period with the two candidates and she was quite nervous. She went into the evening prepared to let her name stand for president and, ultimately, take on the job if the membership was willing, but felt her nerves strike during that portion of the proceedings. However, she said she was pleased that she “didn’t blank” when answering questions, which she admits is something that’s happened to her before.
However, her nerves didn’t stop her and she was elected to the position. She said it was thrilling and surprising to hear her name called and she’s looking forward to the one-year term ahead.
To prepare for the heightened level of responsibility, Oudshoorn says she’s stepped away from certain high-level responsibilities in her home club, the Huron-Perth Junior Farmers, in addition to some other boards and committees on which, until recently, she had served.
She says the position will essentially be a two-year commitment, first as the president and then as the past-president, both of which she’s ready to tackle head-on.
Oudshoorn said she has a bit of an idea about what awaits her thanks to her year as the director of finance. She knows there are a lot of internal and administrative tasks, but she hopes to delegate some things and get as many people involved as possible.
According to the Junior Farmers Association of Ontario website, Oudshoorn is just the third Huron County resident to serve as the provincial president, after Mary Feldskov in 2003 and Jim Phelan in 1979. There have been two presidents since 1944 from Perth County: Claire Belluz in 1972 and Paul A. Nairn in 1991.
She has succeeded Jamie Schultz of Renfrew County, the 2022 president. The process included the traditional passing on of Gordie, the iconic stuffed bear that is given from president to president that is said to be done to keep the current president from losing the historical president’s pin.
This continues an impressive run in the Junior Farmers organization for Oudshoorn, who has steadily rose up the ranks since joining in 2019 as part of a natural progression from her extensive 4-H involvement, from which she aged out, but stayed on as a leader.
At the end of her first year with the Huron-Perth Junior Farmers, 2019, she was elected vice-president. In 2020, she won the Junior Farmers Association of Ontario Novice Outstanding Member Award for 2019, one of the association’s President’s Rose Awards.
The next year, Oudshoorn and Lauren Bos, her fellow Huron Perth Junior Farmers member and Auburn-area resident, were named co-winners of the association’s President’s Rose Award for Most Outstanding Current Member. It was the first time that two members had been awarded in the same year. In that same year, the local club was named Agriculture Club of the Year for its “Who Let The Hogs Out?” fundraiser.