“Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; however, indeed they have the heart.”
Those words truly sum up a Shoal Lake Agricultural Society director who served for nearly 40 years before resigning her post in 2015.
Prior to her resignation, Sophie Sytnyk was among the eight elite directors within the province to be recognized and honoured with a Manitoba Association of Agricultural (MAAS) Societies Honorary Life Memberships at the 28th Annual MAAS Conference held in Brandon.
Born in Vista in 1923, Sophie eventually married Joseph Sytnyk, and they raised five children on the family farm, south of Shoal Lake. She was a stay-at-home mother and their boys were part of the 4-H Beef Club and the girls participated in the Shoal Lake 4-H Home Economics program. Son Perry continues to operate the farm with his three children and brother Brian who helps when he can.
Nominated by the Shoal Lake Agricultural Society, which has been in existence since 1884, Sytnyk has served as a director on the local agricultural society’s board for a total of 39 years. She has been an exhibitor at the Shoal Lake and Hamiota fairs from 1976 to the present. She is also known for her plants and flowers and beautiful yards — on the family farm and presently at her residence in Shoal Lake.
Because of her involvement with the Shoal Lake Agricultural Society, as well as numerous other community achievements, Sytnyk was noted as a deserving recipient of an Honorary Life Membership.
The 2015 MAAS Conference was her fourth attendance, noting back in 1992 she was awarded first prize in the Poster Competition. Eight years prior, she designed a Centennial Quilt, which was raffled off as a fundraiser for the local society. She was also a 4-H leader for over 19 years, member of the Royal Canadian Legion Auxiliary for 25 years, volunteer with Meals on Wheels for six years, and an active member of St. Josaphat’s Ukrainian Catholic Church.
At 92, Sytnyk continues to be an inspiration to not only her family, but to all past and present ag society directors, and the community.
Along with Shoal Lake’s nominee, Russell (Bud) McKague and wife Frances — lifetime members of the Oak River Agricultural Society were also chosen for the Honorary Life Award. Also honoured were John Holland and Katherine Wilkinson of the Springfield Ag Society, Allen Anderson and Ken Weins of the Opasquia Ag Society, and Doris Fletcher of the McCreary Ag Society.
The MAAS Conference in 1992 was the inauguration of the Honorary Life Memberships program. With individual ag societies putting forward nominations to the MAAS board, the Honorary Award is based on member’s contribution to the local agricultural society, the community and the province.
MAAS provides the vehicles and opportunities to develop and promote vital rural communities and agricultural societies. It continues to look at new and innovative educational opportunities and partnerships to enhance agricultural education and awareness in Manitoba.