Six agricultural leaders with experience in all facets of the industry will officially join the hall of fame in April
Depth is how Reed Andrew describes the six agricultural leaders that will be inducted into the Saskatchewan Agriculture Hall of Fame April 18.
“It’s a really strong group. A lot of Saskatchewan agriculture to the core this year,” said Andrew, president of the hall of fame.
“The thing I noticed is pretty well every one of them were involved in some of the major boards in the province. What doesn’t come out in a lot of the bios was their involvement in the community, 4-H involvement and all that.”
Andrew said this year’s inductees represent a diverse range of talents and experiences within agriculture.
“We’ve got the livestock industry and the marketing part of livestock. We’ve got the grain industry, the ag business part of it and then we’ve got the actual invention of the Speckle Park breed,” he said.
For the first time in it’s 49-year-old history, the hall of fame has included a husband and wife team as a single inductee and honoured them posthumously.
Eileen and William Lamont’s biggest achievement was developing the Speckle Park breed, which was one of the few cattle breeds developed in Canada.
The couple farmed near Maidstone and purchased a speckled heifer in 1959 and bred it with a Black Angus bull.
Eileen’s sister, Christine Pike, said the charismatic couple were passionate about creating the breed, which quickly became identified for its tender and tasty beef.
“The Speckled Park breed have put thousands of dollars into the livestock economy in Canada, particularly Western Canada, but also a lot of regions of Ontario, including Australia,” said Pike.
John Feige from Shellbrook helped promote beef genetics internationally through his involvement with the Hereford association as well as significant community involvement.
“He worked hard, but he played harder,” said daughter Twila Fisher.
“He loved the cattle industry, but he loved the people that he met along the way in the cattle industry.”
Adele Buettner founded AgriBiz Communications in 1993, which has served the management, marketing and communication needs of agriculture and food organizations and businesses.
Buettner was instrumental in the evolution of Farm and Food Care Saskatchewan and also has had a significant role with Agriculture in the Classroom and Saskatoon Prairieland Park.
“I’ve seen a lot of change in agriculture,” she said.
“I’ve seen more of a connection between the farm and food and people wanting to know more about their food. But I’ve also seen farmers speaking up and getting more engaged with our consumers, too. There’s been lots of transitions, and that’s been great to be part of.”
At 82, Jack Hay of Bradwell has spent much of his life highly active in his community and the agriculture business.
He served on many boards such as Prairieland Park, the Western Development Museum, the Saskatchewan Livestock Association and the Saskatchewan Agricultural Hall of Fame.
He was also instrumental in developing the Seager Wheeler Pedigreed Seed Show.
Hay downplayed the recognition for his lifetime of volunteerism.
“This is something that my father had taught me of — how to behave yourself, what to do to help people when you should do. And you do not expect something back for what you do,” he said.
Gerry Ritz, a federal agriculture minister for eight years under former Prime Minister Stephen Harper, played a key role in several international trade initiatives during his tenure.
Under his leadership, legislation was updated to improve grain transportation by rail and privatize the Canadian Wheat Board. The Growing Forward Initiative was also developed.
Ritz credits having been surrounded by a great team of people as well as partnerships within industry.
“I think that’s what made it work, was our ability to sit down through the value chain roundtables that we created of each industry group, and the chairs of those became my advisory board,” he said.
“So when we came up with policies, we already knew that they were going to hit the target.”
He described using a bottom-up process rather than top-down.
“The old adage, one size fits all, doesn’t work in agriculture, with the diversity we see even just in one province like Saskatchewan, as opposed to adding in all the horticulture and everything else that we see across this great nation,” he said.
“So it took the flexibility in programming — stability at the federal level and then flexibility at the provincial level — to actually hit the target in most cases.”
With more than 50 years of business experience, Ted Serhienko has seen a lot change in the industry since starting T Bar C Cattle Co., which grew from a purebred Hereford operation into a sales management and consulting service.
His knowledge of all breeds of cattle also made him a desired judge throughout Canada, including Canadian Western Agribition and the Toronto Royal Winter Fair, in addition to many 4-H and junior shows across the province.
Serhienko volunteered for more than 30 years with Agribition, as well as Prairieland Park agriculture programs.
“If we don’t help youth, we don’t keep them in agriculture, and they’re our future. I think you could ask any company that hires (people) — if you’ve got 4-H in the background, they’ll have a work ethic,” he said.
“Some of us have dedicated a little time in our life to add to the youth in our country. It’s a common-sense thing.”
Andrew said plans are underway for the hall of fame’s 50th anniversary celebration next year.
He said the induction process will remain the same with nominations closing Sept. 1 and inductees announced in January.
“Each year it amazes me to what the industry brings forth for us to choose from,” he said.
“The industry produces these names and we go through and select them to get inducted. It’s just amazing, and the industry is getting better at bringing names forth for people, that to be honest, might have got missed.”