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Celebrating the women of farming

Pioneer and modern farm women honoured for 2020 and 2021

ATHABASCA — Ever since the closure of the Alberta Agriculture district office in 2002, the Athabasca County Ag Services Board has sponsored the annual Farm Woman of the Year Award, and as of 2009, in two categories — pioneer and modern. 

In a presentation which happened to fall on International Women’s Day, March 8, Athabasca County Coun. Camille Wallach, who chairs the board, introduced the four women, Beth Gunderson, Carol Burden, Candice Gislason, and Gladys Markowski, who won the awards for 2020 and 2021, which were delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“On the farm Beth helps with cattle, hauling grain, planting a garden and keeping up with the yard work,” Wallach read from the nomination letter. “In addition to the farm, Beth is a foster mom. She has raised over 15 children … as well as her own.” 

Gunderson, who is from Colinton, was presented with the 2020 Pioneer Farm Woman of the Year award, which is a custom metal sign, and was given a bouquet of flowers before Wallach introduced the 2020 Modern Farm Woman of the Year, Carol Burden from Boyle. 

“(Carol) has put a tremendous amount of time and effort into building the farm,” said Wallach. “She’s also very active in the community.” 

Burden has also served on the Farm Women’s committee and with 4-H as a craft leader and general leader. 

“(Candice) is a third-generation farmer in our area,” Wallach said. “Raising her two boys and farming full time, I would imagine it’s challenging. Candice is always researching ways to improve and innovate the farm and also looking into different ways of creating income.” 

Gislason’s nominator also spoke of her community involvement in Richmond Park and area as one of the many reasons she deserved to win the Modern Farm Woman of the Year award for 2021. Gladys Markowski, from George Lake, was nominated by her son Ross. 

“After marrying her husband Ed, they moved to the George Lake area, with no running water and only a wood stove for heat,” Wallach read from the letter. “She was always there as a mom and always there for her friends.” 

Reeve Brian Hall thanked all the women on behalf of the council. 

“Coun. Wallach, thank you for everything you do for the committee,” he said. “I think it’s fitting the delay has permitted us to do this on International Women’s Day.” 

Heather Stocking

About the Author: Heather Stocking

Heather Stocking a reporter at the Athabasca Advocate, a weekly paper in Northern Alberta. Heather covers all aspects of the news in and around Athabasca and Boyle as well as other small communities.
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