It’s always exciting when a member of the valley community is recognized for their achievements, especially in a year where it feels like there is less to celebrate than usual. Sara Bohemen is a remarkable young student from Ormstown. After graduating from CVR in 2018, she enrolled in McGill’s Farm Management and Technology program. This is an intense three-year program that Bohemen describes as a “very mixed program with some theory courses and some hands-on practice.”
Recently she was recognized for her hard work and dedication to the program by the Association des technologues en agroalimentaire (ATA). She learned about the bursaries offered by the ATA from a guest speaker who addressed her human resources class. Bohemen was awarded the “Prix de l’Association des technologues en agroalimentaire” which, she explains, is a prize that is “awarded to a student chosen by the school staff for ‘having demonstrated the best aptitudes to embody the know-how of agri-food technologists for their future career, and for the excellence of the aspect of practical work during their training, while having a responsible attitude and behavior.’”
Bohemen admits that winning the bursary was unexpected. “It felt really good to be recognized in this way; I wasn’t expecting it at all! Especially since I had just completed my big end-of-program project known as the Farm Project and I was feeling very nervous and doubting some of my work.” The pressure of this big project only made winning the prize feel that much better: “A lot of students felt very stressed with this assessment and questioned how they would do on the project overall. It felt nice to receive this award as it boosted my confidence again and made me believe in the work I had done.”
Initially, because she wasn’t sure what she wanted to do, the study of farm management was a casual choice for Bohemen. She states that she had one reason in particular for choosing the program: “The main motivator that got me to apply to this program was the fact that two of my brothers took [it] so I was easily influenced by them.” She was involved in farming from a young age, saying “I have three older brothers and growing up on the farm with them, I learnt to do all the same jobs as them.”
But the program was also attractive because it offered diversity; eventually this helped Bohemen figure out her goals. “There is a large variety of courses that touch on many topics from livestock production to cropping systems to farm economics and many more classes that combined together give the students a good overall understanding of the agricultural industry,” she says. “The combination of stage opportunities and animal production courses in this program fortified my passion for dairy.”
Bohemen is also a very active member of the 4-H community; she is the Ormstown provincial director, which means she represents Ormstown on the provincial 4-H board. Before the pandemic, her 4-H duties and her studies took place on the same campus, which made life much easier to balance. She mentions that her “best friend and roommate is also the Quebec 4-H president, so she helps me to stay organized with meetings and schoolwork.”
In terms of her hopes for the industry, she is very clear about her position. “I think that farmers need to continue to be advocates for the industry. With the fast pace of the media, false information can easily be spread and sometimes without the right context; it can make farmers look very bad.” She goes on to explain that the responsibility to be accurately informed lies with both farmers and consumers: “It is important for the consumers to do their part in asking questions and for the farmers in turn to answer these questions to help the community understand the actuality of farming and agriculture in today’s world.”
Moving forward, Bohemen wants to see some of what life has to offer before making any big decisions. “My motto is to take it one day at a time. I’m not 100 per cent sure exactly what I will do in the near future since I want to travel while I’m young.” However, her end game is clear: “I do know that my long-term goal is to run my own dairy operation.” It certainly seems like she is well prepared to do just that.