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2017 Senior Ambassador's Message

Hello, my name is Karen Van Staveren and I am proud to represent the Great Northern Exhibition as the 2017/2018 Senior Ambassador. I am honoured to represent the Collingwood Agricultural Society and the fair at various events throughout the year.
It is crazy to think that as I write this, that my year is almost over. There are so many exciting events that Jocelyn and I have attended. From an overwhelmingly hot fair weekend to some beautifully temperate Santa Claus Parades, it has be an exciting journey towards the CNE this coming August.
Since assuming the title of Senior Ambassador, I have had the opportunity to attend various events and meet some amazing people in our community and in the greater agricultural society community. At each and every event I continue to expand my network and knowledge of agriculture and agricultural societies. Some highlights of my year include the fair weekend where Jocelyn and I got to deliver ribbons, judge the demolition derby cars and ride in the antique tractor parade. This past fall Jocelyn and I attended the District 5 meeting where we met our fellow district ambassadors as well as a number of other fairs board members. We also attended a number of Santa Claus parades in the community, being occasionally confused for Santa with our sleigh and reindeer. This February I also had the pleasure of attending the Ontario Association of Agricultural Societies convention where I participated in professional development and got to meet the other fair ambassadors from around the province.
A big thank you goes out to our tireless chaperones Melissa Ferguson, Jenn McCarl, Maureen McLeod, Rylee Sampson, Heather Walker and Olivia Walker for their support and guidance throughout the year. I would also like to take this time to thank the ambassador program judges and sponsors who make the program possible year after year. I am also extremely grateful to the Stayner Lions Club and the Rotary Club of Collingwood who supply the scholarships for the Ambassador programs and who give us the privilege of pulling the winning mustang ticket (2017's winner happened to be long time GNE volunteer, Yvonne Irvine). I would like to extend my thanks to the fair board for their continuous support of the program year after year.
I am also grateful for all of the volunteers who continue to make the GNE a success year after year. Without community support, fairs like the GNE would not succeed the way we do. You put so many hours in ensuring that the fair, the Santa Claus parade float, the fashion show and all of the other events run smoothly, so thank you! I encourage everyone to get involved in their local community, whether it be with the GNE or any another community organization. They are always in need of support. There are so many advantages to volunteering including skills development, positive mental health, relationship building and giving back to the community. Volunteering has been one of the most rewarding experiences for me and I encourage everyone to get involved.
Finally, I want to thank my partner through this all, Jocelyn Young, our Junior Ambassador. It has been a blast getting to know you and see you grow more confident as the year has gone on. I know you will go on to do great things and I am so proud. As this year comes to an end I am excited to see what the future will have in store for me. This has been an exciting year for growth both personally and professionally. I am eternally grateful for to all whom I have met in the last year and I will continue to be grateful beyond my year as Ambassador. The memories, relationships and experiences that I have had will continue to shape me in the future. Don't expect me to go too far however, as the ambassador program and GNE has a way of looping you back in!
Thank you to everyone at the Great Northern Exhibition for this experience, I look forward to seeing everyone at the 2018 GNE! Karen
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