RIDGETOWN —Just because school is finished doesn’t mean college graduates should stop learning, the valedictorian told the crowd at the Ridgetown College graduation ceremony on June 2.
“My roommate’s dad always told her, ‘Life is a classroom. We are constantly learning and improving how things are done,’ ” said agricultural graduate Jade Fleming, who grew up on a cow/calf, lambing and Clydesdale horse-breeding farm at Shelburne. “I believe that it is important for us as new graduates to take every experience as a learning opportunity. With things changing every day comes a difference of opinion, but there is never a wrong time to learn.”
There were 302 graduates from Ridgetown College this year, including 158 in the two-year agricultural diploma program. Fleming recounted the highlights: The various clubs, the winter games, the spring expo student-run open house event and “cold refreshments” shared with friends. She said the real-life learning experiences gained at Ridgetown will go with them to their new careers.
“How many college students could say they actually got to put their hand in a cow’s rumen, take part in small animal surgery, wade through a creek looking at water-life, lunge a horse, or feed cows at 5:30 a.m.?”
Meet the graduates
Jade Fleming: 20, Shelburne, Ont.
Background: Cow/calf, lambing and breeding Clydesdale horses
Achievements: Valedictorian, Spring Expo Leadership Award
College highlight: Being selected class valedictorian of the 2017 graduating class.
Future plans: “I could see myself working in livestock nutrition or possibly staying with agronomy and working to complete my Certified Crop Advisor (CCA) ticket.”
Kyle Cornelissen: 19, Watford, Ont.
Background: Poultry, cash crop and greenhouse
Achievements: Associate diploma graduate with distinction, production graduate award, Excellence in Farm Project Award
College highlight: “Not just the learning I did in class, it’s the learning I did outside of the class from the people I met there.”
Future plans: “Hopefully come back to the farm and help my parents with my brother and his wife. Next year I’m going to Olds, Alta. to get my bachelor’s degree in agri-business.”
Holly Alexander: 23, Tavistock, Ont.
Background: Dairy and poultry farm
Achievements: Governor General’s Academic Bronze Medals in both 2016 and 2017, Academic Proficiency in Agriculture, the Agricultural Economics course award, the Business Marketing course award, Ed Bertens Memorial Graduating Award, Agri-food Industry Award, and the Stan Olson Young Agriculturalist Award
College Highlight: Being a peer helper and mentoring the first year students with academics.
Future Plans: Working in crop research.
Derrick Leclair: 19, Dresden, Ont.
Background: Cash crop and tomato
Achievements: Brian Fox Memorial Scholarship, Ridgetown College Entrance Scholarship, Academic Proficiency Award in my program for first year (was runner up second year), Duncan Galbraith Memorial Scholarship, Ontario Processing Vegetable Growers Award, the French’s Food Company Prize
College highlight: “The mission trip to the Dominican Republic that I went on during reading week in second year. We cleared land for a village and created fenced-in gardens for the locals to grow their own food. It was an amazing experience as I got to see what agriculture is like in a less fortunate country and learn to appreciate the high-powered equipment we have.”
Future plans: “I’m working at Agris Co-operative in Tupperville. Currently I work out in the yard assisting customers with loading their fertilizer, chemicals or seed and I also deliver each of these items to the farmer’s field or home.”