By Tom Collins
RIDGETOWN — It’s not the big achievements, but the small moments that made the two years of Ridgetown College worth it for this year’s graduating class, according to the valedictorian.
Many graduates, when asked about college highlights, will speak of memorable trips such as attending World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisconsin, as part of the school’s judging team. However, valedictorian Abbey Taylor said it’s the small things she’ll remember — such as the electrical power going out on pub night, driving a tractor through the Tim Horton’s drive-through next door to the campus and driving around in pickup trucks with classmates.
“As hard as it is to say goodbye, the upside is that when you spend two years living, learning, and occasionally staying up past 3 a.m. with an incredible group of people, you make connections that run deep,” she told the crowd on graduation day on May 31. “The memories we made here will last a lifetime and will pop into your head when you least expect it.”
Even though she went to a rural high school in Elgin County, Taylor wasn’t friends with any other farmers. That changed once she got to Ridgetown.
“We can all talk about equipment and what’s going on at home, and we all understand and share the memories of like, picking rocks,” she told Farmers Forum. “We all grew up the same way and we knew how to work.”
Taylor, who comes from a cash crop farm at Belmont, hopes to eventually take over the family farm with her brother, and to also start poultry farming on a large scale.
There were 266 graduates from Ridgetown College this year, including 157 in the two-year agricultural diploma program (26 of those from Eastern Ontario). College tuition fee for 2018-2019 was $5,740.
Graduates by the numbers:
Agricultural Dairy Herdsperson Apprenticeship: 10
Veterinary technology: 32
Veterinary office administration: 22
Environmental management: 14
Equine care: 14
Horse handler: 8
Graduates with distinction (80 per cent average or higher): 55