RIDGETOWN —The valedictorian at the June 1 Ridgetown College graduation ceremony in Southern Ontario is an East-Central Ontario townie.
“Not being from a farm, I had in my mind that I wouldn’t fit in or I would not do well,” 23-year-old Kelsey Owen told the crowd. “But all of you were so welcoming and fun. I’m a few years older, so that first year a lot of you called me ‘mom.’”
Owen, from Port Perry in Durham County, did not grow up on a farm, but her dad and her grandfather were farmhands. Owen always wanted to be a farmer but didn’t pursue it because she believed that you can’t be a farmer if you didn’t grow up a farmer.
Then she met her boyfriend, Trenton Cooper, at the 2013 rugby national championships in Vancouver when both played on their respective Ontario teams. She was surprised that he lived 30 minutes from Port Perry but they had never met. She started working at Cooper’s family farm. “That’s how I kind of started getting into farming, because the only way I could hang out with him was if I helped him do chores,” she told Farmers Forum.
She and Cooper plan to buy Cooper’s grandparents’ 100-acre farm within the next year and add turkeys and a cow-calf operation.
There were 259 graduates from Ridgetown College this year, including 126 in the two-year agricultural diploma program, the largest program on campus. The second most popular program, veterinary technology, graduated 36 students.