Rayanne Frizzell (Class of ’03)
By Emma Geldart
Rayanne Frizzell (Class of ‘03) plays many different roles- she’s a wife, a mom, a dairy farmer, and works for 4-H Prince Edward Island. Perhaps most notably that on top of all of this, she is a volunteer extraordinaire.
Rayanne’s extensive volunteer work is what earned her this year’s title of Volunteer of the Year at Dalhousie University Faculty of Agriculture’s Blue and Gold Awards. The Blue and Gold Awards honour alumni who have distinguished themselves through outstanding service to Dal AC, their communities, Atlantic Canada and beyond. The Alumni Volunteer of the Year Award honors a volunteer who has consistently and enthusiastically donated their time and talents to advancing the objectives of the faculty or the Alumni Association. Rayanne has certainly exceeded the criteria for the award.
Growing up in Middle Stewiacke, NS, Rayanne was raised in a family that made a conscious effort to give back to the community in which they lived. Volunteering and giving back is in her blood.
“I grew up in a family where my parents always took time to volunteer in our community,” Rayanne says. “I was raised to understand that you have to give back.”
While volunteering is certainly a part of her livelihood, Rayanne is motivated to volunteer because of the impact she hopes to have on others. She explains that many organizations, businesses, and initiatives rely heavily on volunteers to be able to offer programs and services to youth and engage consumers.
“Looking back there are volunteers that, when I was a member, had an impact on my life,” Rayanne says. “They probably don’t know the impact they had. The rewards you get from volunteering and what comes back to you is tenfold of what you give.”
Rayanne’s passion lies in agriculture education. Whether it’s youth, women, or consumers, Rayanne’s focus is on educating about agriculture, what farmer’s do, and where food comes from. Living in Prince Edward Island, Rayanne is an active volunteer with Farm and Food Care PEI as a member of the Agricultural Awareness Committee. Farm and Food Care PEI is a new organization that works to educate consumers about agriculture, something that is extremely important to Rayanne.
“Those of us in the industry who can take the time to communicate and to share can play a huge role in educating students and bridging the gap between farmers and consumers,” she explains.
While educating consumers is certainly a priority, Rayanne believes that reaching students is imperative. She also works with Agriculture in the Classroom PEI, an organization that focuses on educating grade three students and high school students about agriculture.
“We’re at a point in the industry where educating consumers about what farmers do is so important,” Rayanne says. “But even more than that, it’s reaching the students. Even though we live on PEI, a very rural province, students don’t know and don’t understand how their food is produced. As much as we need to reach consumers, we need to reach them when they’re younger. As an industry we need to step up and spend the time educating on what we do.”
Rayanne’s proudest volunteer work though, is an initiative she created from scratch. The Atlantic Farm Women’s Conference is a conference for women who are not necessarily on the farm but connected to the industry. An educational experience and networking opportunity created in 2012, the conference is held every 18 months, either in April or November. This November will be the fifth conference.
“Knowing that I played a part in getting people together is probably my proudest moment being a volunteer,” Rayanne explains humbly.
The idea for the Atlantic Farm Women Conference stemmed from a conversation Rayanne had with a friend about a dairy conference she didn’t attend with her husband. Rayanne admits she didn’t attend the conference because she’s not as connected to the family dairy farm and none of the topics interested her. After some brainstorming and a bit of research, they found that farm women’s conferences exist in Western Canada and the United States, but not necessarily in Eastern Canada. Their idea was born and Rayanne currently sits as co-chair of the initiative.
“Looking back, we were just looking to get some ladies together to see where it went,” Rayanne says. “It’s been interesting to see relationships develop and see women step up and taking on the role of being an agvocate.”
Rayanne is also actively involved with 4-H PEI and has been for over eight years, serving as a project leader and a member of council. She also sits as the finance chair on the National Holstein Convention Committee, which PEI is set to host in 2019. On top of her work in agriculture, she works with a number of initiatives with her children’s school as well.
When asked where she finds the time to do it all, Rayanne smiles, “if it’s something you are passionate about and believe in, you will find the time to do it.”