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  • Writer's pictureLorna Hamilton

Northlands’ Legacy Nurtures Future Agricultural Students At Lakeland College

From left, Dr. Alice Wainwright-Stewart - President and CEO of Lakeland College, Ken Knowles - past President and CEO of Northlands, Bailey Ferguson - Lakeland College student, Nik LaMont - Lakeland College student, Jerry Bouma - Northlands’ Transition Board Chair, and Tracy Quinton - Interm Dean of Agriculture Sciences. Photo Lorna Hamilton

In a move that signals the end of one chapter and the beginning of another, Northlands bids farewell to its operational era while ushering in a future of agricultural leadership through a groundbreaking partnership with Lakeland College. The result of this collaboration is the creation of the Northlands Legacy Agriculture Award, an initiative aimed at fostering a new generation of leaders in the agricultural sector.

Jerry Bouma, Northlands’ transition board chair, spoke on the significance of this endeavor, stating, “We are pleased to provide funds to support agriculture education at Lakeland College. The Northlands’ legacy of service will now be carried by Lakeland College and its long-standing commitment to agriculture.”

The Northlands Legacy Agriculture Award, made possible by a generous $145,000 gift from Northlands, was officially presented to the college on August 17. This distinguished award will be granted to four students annually for a period of ten years, with the primary goal of nurturing leadership within agriculture. Eligible recipients for the award are students who not only demonstrate academic good-standing but also showcase leadership beyond the confines of the classroom.

Dr. Alice Wainwright-Stewart, President and CEO of Lakeland College, expressed her profound gratitude for Northlands’ substantial contribution, stating, “For decades, Northlands has been a driving force in agriculture in Alberta, and as they end operations, it seems only fitting that they choose to support that on-going legacy of leadership in ag through this award. It is such a meaningful way to honour the legacy of the Northlands organization and our future leaders in agriculture. It will make a huge difference for the students who receive it.”

Since its inception in 1879, Northlands has served as a unifying platform for farmers, ranchers, and agriculturists through a series of ag-inspired events. Though it ceased operations in 2021, its impact on the agricultural landscape continues through this remarkable gift to Lakeland College.

Jerry Bouma, in a heartfelt speech, emphasized the profound impact of education in shaping societies. He highlighted, “...the advent of public education in the 1870s is perhaps the greatest public policy achievement that has taken place over the course of the last years... That’s how you build a productive healthy society. So bringing Northlands to a close which was established in 1879 and the public schools act in 1871, as an agricultural society the question on what to do with the surplus funds was an easy answer; put it towards education, towards agricultural education, toward an institution that since 1913 has been committed to educating students in agriculture... that’s Lakeland College...”

He further conveyed the pride in passing the Northlands Legacy torch to Lakeland College, an institution he had grown quite fond of over the last 15 months. Bouma expressed his wish that they could present a 10 times larger contribution but emphasized their contentment with supporting four students annually for the next decade. He underscored their hope that these funds will not just support, but also inspire students to embrace education, particularly in the field of agriculture.

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