The winners of this year’s virtual Alberta Young Speakers for Agriculture (AYSA) event have roots that run deep in agriculture. Alyson Katerenchuk and Christopher Mills took home top honours in the Senior and Junior divisions, respectively. Their wins come in a year where the event saw more participants than ever before. This was the sixth year the event was held, and the second straight year it was held virtually due to the pandemic.
Katerenchuk was pleasantly surprised to place first as she did not know much about the event before entering. You wouldn’t know it if you watched her speech on ‘How a global pandemic changed Canadian agriculture – or has it?’
After having to do a year of post-secondary studies in Engineering at the University of Alberta from the farm, she felt personally connected to the subject.
“Being a part of the farm, I started to see a lot more shifts in it, so I felt a huge connection to that topic, and I was very happy to see the kinds of shifts that I have seen in agriculture because of the pandemic,” Katerenchuk said.
Her family’s farm, located in the Smoky Lake area in northern Alberta, has been in the family for over 100 years. She says her family was very proud to hear her speak on a subject that is part of their livelihood.
In the Junior Division, Christopher Mills from Retlaw, AB took home first place with his speech on ‘Food waste, food security, and food policy: What is agriculture’s/aquaculture’s role?’
“I hope that food policy can be changed for the better; that everybody can have food and that we will be able to have food security, and our food won’t be endangered,” Mills said.
Mills’ farming background also stretches back generations as his family has farmed in Manitoba and Alberta. He says there are a lot of career possibilities in agriculture, both for himself and others.
AYSA Chair, Eric Dalke, says it was really amazing to see all the competitors deliver excellent speeches in a live virtual format.
“Thank you to the competitors and their families for joining the competition and bringing your passion for agriculture to the forefront,” Dalke said.
To view Katerenchuk and Mills’ speeches and the presentations of all the other speakers, visit the Alberta Young Speakers for Agriculture Facebook page.
Both Katerenchuk and Mills are now looking forward to competing on the national stage at the Canadian Young Speakers for Agriculture virtual event on November 6, 2021. There, they hope to have the same success as they did on the provincial level.