Mitchell to stay on as ambassador for 2020-2021
BY DENNY SCOTT
Sean Mitchell will be staying on as the Brussels Fall Fair Ambassador for another year after being named 2019/2020 ambassador in August of 2019.
After being named to the prestigious position, Mitchell told The Citizen that it was a real honour to be recognized, and thanked his competitors, Megan Exel and Brittany Struthers, for their time and effort in being involved in the program.
Mitchell was excited to be named ambassador for the Brussels Fall Fair and the Brussels Agricultural Society, saying they are important parts of Brussels. He felt that becoming ambassador would be the most practical way to give back to the community of Brussels, which he feels has helped shape him.
“I was initially approached by [former Brussels Fall Fair Ambassador] Hannah McCutcheon, and she’s pretty persuasive,” he said. “When I was asked, it was kind of an obvious way to give back to the community and show that I appreciate what I’ve gained by being from Brussels.”
In his speech, Mitchell pointed out that he has come to appreciate the value of growing up on a farm and in a community like Brussels.
“That really allowed me to have unique opportunities that most of my peers in Guelph have never had,” he said. “Living away from the Brussels area during the week has (made) me appreciate more where I come from. I have come to realize the extent that Brussels shaped me as a person and that has been significant to me. That realization has made me love Brussels and our area even more.”
Mitchell said that being in the fair was a new experience for him last year, as he had only been involved through submitting projects to the fair before.
Mitchell also represented the Agricultural Society and the Brussels Fall Fair with other organizations. His first official appearance after being named ambassador, for example, was to represent and publicize the fair during the Huron County Plowing Match’s awards banquet later this month.
Last year’s fair theme, which was reflected heavily in his speech, was “Back to Our Roots”, and he said that valuing the roots of agriculture is important, but not at the cost of losing sight of the future.
“While we honour our roots in agriculture, we are not going to get bogged down in them either,” he said in his speech. “Farming is always a balance between learning from our past and embracing the future, but as our industry prepares to feed an additional two billion people by 2050, we need to increasingly look to new branches of technology and innovation to sustainably increase the efficiency and productivity of our farms.”
Mitchell is living that message, having started a company with several University of Guelph classmates to make a soybean-based liqueur called Fifth Bean several years ago, which earned him awards and cash prizes through the school.
A Walton-area native, Mitchell was pursuing a degree in Environmental Science with a major in Environmental Economics at the University of Guelph. He is a past-president of the Brussels Leo Club, the current Youth Chair for the Huron-Bruce Federal Liberals and a member of the Ontario Agricultural College Student Federation’s executive.
Mitchell, the son of Neil and Marie, is a graduate of Brussels Public School and Central Huron Secondary School. He has nourished a love for music by playing the violin since he was four years old. He grew up contributing to his family’s cash crop farm near Walton.
Mitchell was joined by Junior Ambassador James Speer and Little Ambassador Rowan Gaspric, both of whom will also hold their titles for another year.
Honourable judges, Legion members, distinguished contestants, ladies and gentlemen, the theme of our fair this year is “Back to Our Roots” and I would like to talk to you about the value of having roots in agriculture.
Our community is the root system from which we can grow and flourish. From the agricultural roots in our community, we grow caring people, and nurture the success of the next generation. Organizations like the Brussels Agricultural Society, and service clubs like the Lions, Leos and the Optimists, all take a leading role in supporting the growth and development of our youth while making our community a better place to live.
Each child who has displayed their grandma’s flowers in a rubber boot or won a ribbon for their 12-foot-tall corn stalk has learned the value of growing food. Every cotton ball sheep or 4-H calf recognized gives the message that taking care of your livestock is important.
As a child, I fondly recall decorating a tractor using seeds grown on our farm. This project and my family taught me early on to value the technology and hard work that goes into producing our crops. In all these ways, the fair teaches us to value our roots in agriculture!
We are particularly blessed that our area of midwestern Ontario has allowed agriculture to take root, thrive and grow. Worth noting is that Huron County is Ontario’s top corn- producing county and a close third when it comes to soybeans. Agriculture hasn’t taken root here just because we have fertile land, it is the culmination of the knowledge and skills of all the individuals in our community who work in the agri- food industry.
But while we honour our roots in agriculture, we are not going to get bogged down in them either. Farming is always a balance between learning from our past and embracing the future, but as our industry prepares to feed an additional two billion people by 2050, we’ll need to increasingly look to new branches of technology and innovation to sustainably increase the efficiency and productivity of our farms.
My roots in agriculture have provided me with meaningful research and learning opportunities at the University of Guelph. I’m now executing a national survey of how precision agriculture impacts field level decision-making. My study on precision agriculture in Ontario has actually been published in the Canadian Journal of Plant Science. Beyond this, roots in agriculture have helped me in my summer jobs where I’m often the only one who has worked on a farm.
Being from a farm also comes with the responsibility to educate others about agriculture. To this end, I’ve helped with farm tours for master’s students from Guelph who have never been on a Canadian farm. Of course, this meant coming to Brussels to see the best farms our province has to offer.
My roots in agriculture have also resulted in interesting business opportunities. I got involved with the Project Soy innovation competition at the University of Guelph for which my team created a delicious prize-winning creme liqueur using Ontario soybeans. I have also been working with the business incubator at the university to try and get our business, 5th Bean, off the ground. Who knew my soy creations would evolve from a tractor decorated with soybeans to soybean liqueur!
The strength, growth and success of our agricultural community all depend on healthy roots. Each year for the last 158 years, the Brussels Agricultural Society has hosted a fair that showcases the products of our community’s talents, industry and imagination. Please continue to nurture the creation of strong agricultural roots in your own way. That might be in your everyday work, growing, producing, baking, crafting or creating. Maybe you can nurture the growth of a young person’s connection to our agricultural roots by encouraging them to get involved with the fair. You never know what that might inspire!
Thank you so much for coming tonight to support the contestants and the Brussels Agricultural Society. Like this fair, a plant needs healthy roots to grow. Your participation helps the Brussels Fall Fair community to grow and thrive! Please continue to cultivate and support our agricultural roots!