My time as ambassador has proven to be more fulfilling than I ever could have imagined. As a child, I always knew that I would like to run for ambassador, but never could have known what a great leadership opportunity it would prove to be. Even before the winner was announced I gained valuable skills that will last a lifetime. Before the competition, I had never been interviewed before and had little public speaking experience, but upon participating in the competition I gained practice in both areas. I have been exposed to new things, challenged myself, gained new skills, and made some amazing friends in my year as ambassador. My speech on the night of the contest was about the viability of family farms for future generations. My time as ambassador has only confirmed my view point that family farms are still very relevant and important to our local community and economy. As a newly crowned ambassador, the fair weekend kick started my whirlwind of a year. I attended cattle and miniature horse shows, rode in the parade with the other ambassador contestants, judged some adorable babies in the baby contest, handed out awards for the demolition derby and my most memorable event, participating in the farm Olympics. Before the weekend, I didn’t realize how much time, energy, and dedication is put into making the fair a great success, so I would like to thank all of the directors, volunteers and supporters of the fair for your dedication and support year after year. In November I attended the annual District 13 meeting where I was able to meet my fellow ambassadors and their directors. During this time, we discussed how other fairs ran and what was unique about our individual fairs. Another event all the ambassadors took part in was an etiquette class, yet some of us still ended up with food in our laps at lunch (myself included). I also took part in both the West Lorne and Rodney Santa Claus Parades, which was a great way to get out and see the community coming together to celebrate the holidays. I now have my waving down pat, a skill that was a little rusty at the first parade. In February I attended the Ontario Association of Agricultural Societies convention held in Toronto at the Royal York where we were treated like royalty. All the fairs in Ontario gather here with their ambassadors to discuss and share ideas about agricultural societies. The ambassadors attended workshops on strengthening ambassador programs, interview skills and public speaking, toured the Royal York grounds, and were treated to private concerts and entertainment at night. In August I will be representing our fair and community on a provincial level while competing at the Canadian National Exhibition with all the ambassadors from Ontario. Being ambassador has been an incredible experience that I feel privileged and honored to have taken part in. I have gained new skills, made lifelong friendships and memories, and taken part in an amazing opportunity to represent our community. I cannot express my gratitude for all the experiences I have had while being ambassador. Thank you to West Elgin Mutual for sponsoring the program, the Kiwanis Club for sponsoring me, and for the fair board and community for welcoming me with open arms. I would strongly encourage all youth to participate in the program as so many skills, memories, and friendships are gained through this once in a lifetime opportunity. I reflect positively on the experiences I’ve had and look forward to the new upcoming ones as my time as ambassador comes to a close. I cannot wait to see everyone in September as we raise our mason jars to the 163rd Rodney-Aldborough Fair .
Ryann Fink – 2016 Rodney-Aldborough Fair Ambassador