Twenty farming families from across southern Alberta were honoured at the 2022 BMO Farm Family Awards, including several from the southeast region.
The annual awards aim to recognize one family from each of the 20 southern municipal districts which embodies family values and, as a unit, contributes to both the communities and the field of agriculture.
Following municipal district nomination, families are invited to the Calgary Stampede for the award ceremony, which includes brunch, a family photograph session, a meet-and-greet with officials from BMO, the Stampede and the province, including the minister of agriculture. Families are then treated to a day at the Stampede.
“It was pretty good day,” Gord Forbes, whose family was chosen to represent Cypress County, told the News. “We had a brunch, and then they give us a gate sign to recognize our accomplishments. And then after, we were invited to the Calgary Stampede’s exhibition and rodeo.
“It was good,” Patti, Gord’s wife, said. “It was just coming together with other families who are also being recognized and getting to share in that experience and getting to be like a VIP for the day.
“One thing I thought was brilliant was listening to everybody else’s bios. Farmers and ranchers traditionally don’t talk too much about their operations outside their operations. So, it was really interesting to hear that all of us have the same ideas for diversifying, sustainability and planning. It was really interesting to hear their bios and know we’re all on the same page with protecting the environment.”
The Forbes family, based in southeast Alberta for more than 145 years, owns and operates Cottonwood Livestock, a cow/calf operation located near Suffield.
While the family is well-versed in traditional agriculture practices, Gord and Patti strongly believe they have a responsibility to protect natural grasslands, waterways and species, and so, have introduced a variety of environmentally conscious and caring animal practices.
The Forbes also believe in giving back to the community, which is why family members offer educational tours of their operation and are longtime volunteers with the Medicine Hat Exhibition & Stampede.
Medicine Hat’s Stampede is dedicating a portion of the July 29 rodeo to both celebrate the family following the win, as well as thank the family members who volunteer.
While the Forbes are grateful for the award and experience, Gord and Patti say they are one of many families who make up Alberta’s dedicated agriculture community.
“We were very surprised (to be chosen) because there is a lot of families in Cypress County who are worthy of being recognized for what they do,” Gord said.
As well as the Forbes family, several other regional families were honoured including the Morgan family representing County of Forty Mile; the Unruh family representing MD of Taber; and the McNiven family representing Special Area No. 2.
KENDALL KING, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News