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Jean Sullivan: 2023 Food & Farming Champion

Jean Sullivan: 2023 Food & Farming Champion

Being recognized alongside others who advocate for ag is an honour, she said

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer
Farms.com

Jean Sullivan has many titles.

She’s a mom, wife, 4-H leader, member of the board of directors with the Carp Fair, and member of the Ontario Agricultural Hall of Fame’s board of directors. And that’s just according to her Twitter profile.

Now, she can add champion to her bio.

Sullivan, from Kinburn, Ont., received Farm & Food Care Ontario’s (FFCO) Food & Farming Champion Award on April 13.

The organization has presented the award since 1999 to recognize individuals or groups who are committed to public outreach in Ontario’s ag community.

Winning the award came as a complete shock, she said.

“I was very surprised because I had no idea it was in the works,” she said. “As it sinks in, I’m feeling very honoured to be amongst the folks who do such a great job of promoting agriculture and food.”

Jean Sullivan award
FFCO Vice Chair Crispin Colvin (far left) presents the 2023 Food & Farming Champion Award to winner Jean Sullivan, alongside the Hon. Lisa Thompson, Minister of Agriculture Food & Rural Affairs, and Senator Rob Black.

What makes the award even more special for Sullivan is it came from her peers.

The Ottawa Valley Seed Growers’ Association nominated her, with letters of support from Bruce Hudson and Ashley Knapton, with the latter identifying Sullivan as a mentor and someone the next generation of people in ag can look up to.

“It’s very humbling to hear those kinds of words,” she said. “I’m involved in organizations that rely on many people to make things happen, and so I share this award with them too.”

Sullivan’s involvement in the ag community started as a 4-H member in Elgin County.

She participated in livestock clubs and homemaking clubs, and credits her leaders with helping develop her interest in becoming a leader in the future.

“It was great to be part of that group of young people, and we had amazing leaders who really mentored us and pointed us in the right direction,” she said. “They exposed us to a bigger sense of what agriculture is in our community.”

Part of Sullivan’s community work includes starting the first Real Dirt on Farming 4-H club, which takes senior members through issues identified in FFCO’s publication.

“I thought it would be fun for the members involved in beef or dairy or field crops to expose them to other livestock commodities and farm businesses that are in our community,” she said. “Raising agriculture awareness includes people in the ag community, and so we visited a pig barn and an egg operation because those were areas the members wanted to know more about.”

Though Sullivan received recognition for her community work, she wants others in ag to know that engaging in ag outreach can be easy.

With the connectivity of today and a public appetite to know where food comes from, every day is an opportunity to be an ag advocate, she said.

“The first step is to have the confidence to talk to others about what we do and the passion that goes into the agriculture and food system,” she said. “There are always people who want to take on a new recipe, or learn about how someone does their job.”

Farms.com extends its congratulations to Sullivan on her award!


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