National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs

Fun, Learning, and Achievement

23 October 2019

It was an unforgettable summer for Steph Watkins who spent six weeks in Canada making friends and experiencing Canadian culture.

Did you travel alone?

I travelled with four other young farmers from all over Europe – including Austria, Ireland, Germany and Northern Ireland.

We stayed with host families organised by the Canadian JFAO (Junior Farmer Association of Ontario).

They all became friends – or you could say my new family. It’s bazaar how close you become to four people who were complete strangers six weeks earlier!

Was it enjoyable?

This summer has been truly unforgettable. Meeting both young and old people in the agriculture industry within Canada. It has been inspiring and I'm sure we have all taken some great ideas back home.

It's true to the stereotype that Canadians are all polite, all the Junior Farmer families have been so welcoming to us and I can't thank them enough – I will be back!

What did you do?

The days and weeks flew by! I visited Toronto, Durham West, Wellington, Peterborough, Renfrew and Ottawa and toured many farms and spent time with JFAO members. One evening I experienced s’mres – the proper way with marshmallows, gram crackers and chocolate.

I toured Hensal Co-op, which is where Branston baked beans are grown before being exported to the UK. I also saw a farm that breeds special cattle that can adapt to extremes of weather and exports embryos to Australia and New Zealand.

There were campfires and sunbathing and amazing Raclette dinners, where we would enjoyed special Swiss cheese prepared with vegetables on a racelette grill.

I also took part in a radio interview to explain why we were visiting the country and all about YFC.

I enjoyed an international Pot Luck evening where we all made traditional food from our home countries for everyone to try.

When I stayed in Renfrew we had a Barn Dance after the “RedNeck Games” which is the equivalent to our rallies.

Any highlights?

  • Canada Day in the capital – Ottawa! It was an amazing day and everyone was so proud to be Canadian. Most people were wearing white, red or a mixture of the two. We joined in going all out with red and white head to toe, hats, flags and a lot of temporary tattoos. We had a great day and a big firework display at night which was fantastic.
  • Axe throwing in Peterborough!
  • Niagara Falls was amazing and definitely worth the early morning rise to get there.
  • Cow patty golf – golf with anything but a golf club. It was fun to see what everyone brought from a squishy mop to a paddle. A great game idea for a new members’ night.
  • Seeing a live bear – I was surprised at how big it was and the fact it just casually walked across the road in front of us.

Would you recommend a YFC Travel trip?

I would encourage everyone to take up the opportunity of going on an exchange, as it certainly is a once in a lifetime experience. Being a delegate has so many advantages and you get to see so much more of an area than if you were just to go there on holiday. I have had countless new experiences, learnt so much about Canadian farming and way of life, met some fantastic people and made some amazing lifelong friends and memories!

The deadline for applying for 2020 YFC Travel trips is 1 November 2019. Find out more. 

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