2016 Woman of Excellence in Agriculture Award

Woman of Excellence in Agriculture Award 2016.jpg


Pictured (L-R): Glenna Smith, Mary Elmhirst and FWIO President,

Margaret Byl at the award presentation in November 2016.


Since 1996, the Federated Women’s Institutes of Ontario have recognized the significant contributions made by women in agriculture at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair by presenting them with the prestigious Woman of Excellence in Agriculture Award.

This award is open to all Ontario women currently involved in agriculture, the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair and their community, for example through 4-H, fair boards or the plowing match.

The 2016 winner was Mary Elmhirst from Keene, Ontario (Indian River) and a Member of Westwood WI (Peterborough District, Trent Valley Area). Agriculture and community have always been important to Mary. At the age of five, she rode her pony, Dainty, at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair and was honoured as the show’s youngest rider. Mary was raised on a dairy farm and married a beef farmer. She was a staunch supporter of breed organizations and she first participated by supervising the “Shorthorn Lassies” at the Royal. Later, after becoming a Hereford breeder, she helped host a dinner at the Royal for out-of-province Hereford Queens.

At the Royal in 1996, Mary presented the “Woman of Excellence in Agriculture Award” to the very first recipient. She then served as a Royal Agricultural Winter Fair director representative from Women’s Institute for the next three years. Mary has continued to work with programs such as “Farm Comes to Town”, Agriculture Societies, Cattlemen’s Association and of course Women’s Institute.