The Grey Bruce Farmers’ Week Committee, with strong support from producers, sponsors, and agribusiness, has been giving back to the community.

In 2009 an annual  $1000 Grey Bruce Farmers’ Week Prize was established in conjunction with the University of Guelph, Ontario Veterinary College (OVC), to recognize new veterinarians entering food animal practices in Grey and Bruce Counties.  This award recognizes the individual’s past accomplishments, but also encourages their future contributions, and commitment to our rural communities.  In the case of there being more than one applicant, the award will be given to the graduate completing the course Health Management in either the Mixed or Food Animal streams, with the highest standing in the Ruminant Health Management rotation.

Eligible students can apply by letter providing proof of employment to the office of the ‘Associate Dean, Students for OVC’, by May 1st of each year.

Some of the past winners have included:

On June 12, 2021, the OVC Class of 2021 Virtual Veterinary Oath Ceremony took place. The GBFW Committee was delighted to watch this ceremony and to announce that Dr. Heather Reinhardt is the recipient of the 2021 GBFW award.

Heather grew up in South Bruce County (Teeswater), on a small dairy farm. The farm has been in their family for four generations. Since Heather was a young child, she has been highly involved in the farm work. She much preferred being out in the barn caring for all the calves or kittens than spending time in the house. Heather was an active member of the local dairy 4-H club. She started riding horses at the age of 11. Although the farm was mostly dairy cattle, when she was a teenager, she purchased a few sheep and started her own small sheep flock.

During her undergraduate degree Heather was fortunate to gain experience working in the swine industry. She managed a sow barn, and worked for Southwest Vets, a swine specialty veterinary clinic. Prior to attending veterinary school, Heather completed a Master of Science Degree in livestock nutrition.

Heather always wanted to be a veterinarian; however, over the years, many experiences and mentors influenced and shaped her reasons for pursuing this career. Heather loves animals and has a deep passion to help them and work with them. Being a veterinarian will allow her to blend that passion with a desire to be involved in agriculture and production medicine. Heather views veterinary medicine as an opportunity for a diverse career path with many different areas of interest and opportunity. Veterinarians are not only involved in health management of food animal production systems but also are highly involved in production management. Heather chose to serve in a large animal practice as that is where her roots lie. She is so excited to be working within the agriculture community and have the opportunity to work alongside the hard-working families that provide us with our food. She is also pleased to return to her hometown region and provide support to her family run dairy farm.

Dr. Reinhardt is currently employed at the Walkerton Hanover Veterinary Clinic, and the Walkerton Equine Clinic. She will be performing a diverse set of roles and services within the clinics. It may be too early to ask Heather what her specialty will be, but she is hopeful that her training in livestock nutrition will be a unique asset to the clinics, in addition to her passion for production management. She is looking forward to beautiful sunny days on the road, driving around the countryside and chatting with local farmers about cows and other livestock!

The Grey Bruce Farmers’ Week Committee congratulates Dr. Heather Reinhardt, and wishes her all the best in her future endeavours!

On June 20, 2020, at the OVC Class of 2020 Virtual Veterinary Oath Ceremony, it was announced that Dr. Jacques Van Zyl was the recipient of the GBFW award. Jacques was the recipient of a total of three awards. Jacques was born in South Africa. When he was quite young, his family moved to the small farming town of Canora Saskatchewan, where they backgrounded cattle and had a small chicken flock. He spent his childhood fishing and helping on the farm. On weekends, he enjoyed going to rodeos in the small communities across the prairies. Mutton busting was a crowd favourite! The Van Zyl family moved to Ontario when Jacques was in grade four. He was always very intrigued with the idea of being a veterinarian and working in a rural setting. His initial interest was wildlife, and he worked for a year in conservation. He also spent time working on a family member’s farm in South Africa, where they farmed rare game. After spending time with a veterinarian in South Africa, and darting animals from helicopters, he decided to pursue a career in veterinary medicine. Jacques says that being a large animal veterinarian suits his personality. He likes the physical aspect of having to wrestle a steer when necessary. Jacques added that being out on the road in the countryside is a hard office to beat. Jacques finds it rewarding to help producers, as veterinarians are directly influencing the farmers’ livelihoods. Jacques thought about moving back to South Africa and working there. But, his wife is from Grey county, and they love this area too much to move away. He is currently working for both a large animal clinic and a small animal clinic. The large animal clinic that has hired him is Metzger Veterinary Services. He is based out of their Chesley clinic. Jacques is really look forward to interacting with the producers that he knows from his childhood. Being able to help them now as a veterinarian will be very rewarding. He also looks forward to meeting new farmers and starting his career in the area. Please welcome Jacques when you see him, and congratulate him on being this year’s recipient of our award.

The Grey Bruce Farmers’ Week Committee congratulates Dr. Jacques Van Zyl, and wishes him all the best in his future endeavours!


On June 13, 2019, at the Convocation Awards ceremony at OVC, Dr. Elri Oosthuizen was the recipient of the GBFW award. Elri grew up in the small town of Smiths Falls, ON Canada.  Despite the fact that she did not grow up on a farm, she is passionate about livestock, and agriculture. One of Elri’s earliest experiences with large animals began with horses. As a young eight-year-old girl, she went to her first horseback riding summer camp.  This experience led to a lifetime passion for horses and riding.  She still rides today for pleasure and for sanity.  Horseback riding lessons turned into weekend chores at the horse farm, then summer jobs, and equine care jobs on the road for show horses on the competitive circuit.  As a young girl active in the equine community, everyone always told her “Oh, you’ll be the horse vet one day!” And of course, as a child, she believed them, and ran with that story. Once she got to the University of Guelph for her undergrad degree in Animal Biology, she began to realize what a love she had for agriculture and farm animals. U of G provided a positive exposure to agriculture through the classes, atmosphere and surroundings. Once she reached vet school, she truly realized that her passion was rooted in farm/food animal medicine. Elri had wonderful experiences working summer jobs at the Arkell Swine Health Research Facility and at the University of Guelph with the “teaching dairy cows”.  Although she still enjoys horses in her personal life, and will be working with them in her veterinary career; they will be accompanied by her focus on cattle/food animal medicine. Elri is very much looking forward to becoming part of the agricultural community in Bruce County. As a veterinarian, she wants to be part of the advancement of livestock practices, animal welfare, health and production. She wishes to work alongside producers to investigate potential areas of improvement, so that their operation may have optimal production and fulfill their farm goals, while maintaining their animals in top health condition. But ultimately, she wishes to be seen by the producers in the community as a warm, approachable, accepting individual, that has both their interests and the animal’s best interests at heart. She is currently working at Paisley Veterinary Services.

Dr Elri


On, June 14, 2018, at the Convocation Awards ceremony at OVC, Dr. Julia Nguyen was the recipient of the GBFW award. Julia grew up in the suburbs of Oshawa.  From a young age she was inspired to be a vet, as she liked the idea of working with animals, while helping owners through the knowledge of animal medicine and behaviour.  That early desire to become a veterinarian, led Julia to do a high school co-op placement at a small animal clinic. After her undergraduate degree at the University of Guelph, Dr. Nguyen began riding along with large animal practitioners and volunteering at a therapeutic riding centre and farm. She became even more interested in food-producing animals after working on a pasture-based farm for four months in New Hampshire, U.S. That farm raised broilers, layers, beef cattle, heritage breed pigs, turkeys, and lambs. Dr. Nguyen chose food/large animal practice as a result of her experiences and the mentors that have influenced her throughout her life. Julia has a keen interest in bovine veterinary medicine and understanding how veterinarians can play a key role in improving the lives of the animals, farmers, and the broader community. She is currently participating in the Summer Dairy Institute at Cornell University. Once that course is completed, she is looking forward to meeting and working with the clients in the area, and exploring Grey Bruce. She has been employed by Miller Veterinary Service in Chatsworth.  She enjoys hiking and stand-up paddleboarding, so she is excited to discover the trails and calm waters the area has to offer.

On June 16, 2017, at the Convocation Awards ceremony at OVC, Dr. Kelsey Milmine was the recipient of the GBFW award.  Kelsey grew up in the the suburbia of Burlington, Ontario. Before getting into veterinary school most of her experiences were exclusively with small animals. She wanted to get some experience with large animals, so she approached a local dairy farmer about working on his farm. Kelsey commented that “Roland, at Swiss Line Farm, and the rest of his family, were great for hiring a city girl to come milk their cattle”.  During her time there, she grew to love the dairy industry. She also started volunteering with large animal veterinarians and got to learn more about large animal veterinary medicine.  Working and volunteering at different veterinary practices showed her how exciting and varied a veterinarian's job can be. What drew her to large animal medicine was the chance to work more with cattle and interact with farmers. At the time of reciept of this award, Dr. Milmine was employed at Paisley Veterinary Service in Bruce County.

On June 17, 2016, at the Convocation Awards ceremony at OVC, Dr. Stephanie Bilato was the recipient of the GBFW award.  Stephanie was born and raised in Ancaster, Ontario.  Her first exposure to large animals was through horseback-riding camps when she was young. Throughout high school and university she worked at mixed animal veterinary clinics in the area. She loved the variety of species seen on a day to day basis. During this time, she also milked cows on a couple of family farms.  This is where she saw first-hand the care and hard work that went into putting milk onto our tables. Stephanie felt that there is a certain pride and feeling of responsibility that she got when working with food producing animals. At the time of the receipt of this award,  Dr. Bilato was working at the Mildmay Veterinary Clinic as a mixed animal veterinarian.

On June 12, 2015, at the Convocation Awards ceremony at OVC, Dr. Victoria Styczynski was the recipient of the GBFW award.  Victoria was born and raised in Burlington, Ontario. Victoria was introduced to large animals through horse riding lessons at a young age (seven). Victoria spent a lot of time with her uncle growing up, both at his farm in Grimsby, and going to watch the livestock auctions at OLEX.  Her decision to become a large animal vet was made after shadowing a large animal vet in the Niagara region.  She loved the animals and the atmosphere at each new farm they visited. She also learnt to appreciate the working partnership between producers and farm animals. Since then, she has expanded her experiences with farming and agriculture during her time at OVC, and by riding along with other large animal practitioners. Victoria was introduced to the Grey Bruce area through her boyfriend Jamie, who is from Port Elgin, ON. Victoria spent many of her 4th year rotations with various practices in the Grey Bruce area. At the time of receipt of this award, and in 2018, Victoria is employed at a mixed animal practice at Paisley Veterinary Services.



On June 13, 2014, at the Convocation Awards ceremony at the OVC, Dr. Kim Painter was the recipient of our award. Kim was born and raised in the Kitchener area.  She had been interested in veterinary medicine from a young age, but she became more focused on agriculture and production medicine during her undergrad at the University of Guelph (BSc in Animal Biology).  During a busy spring 2014: she graduated from OVC; started working for Mildmay Veterinary Professional Corporation; got married in June to Dwayne Koeslag, whose family operates a dairy farmer near Clifford; and completed the six week Summer Dairy Institute (SDI) program at Cornell University.  She believed that it was important to pursue programs such as SDI, to ensure that she is at the forefront of the industry.  In 2014, she was treating small and large animals; however, food animal medicine is her passion. Kim feels very fortunate to have the perspective of a producer, farming with her husband and his family. Kim has enjoyed getting to know the clients in the Grey-Bruce area. She feels that she is particularly lucky to work in an area where her husbands’ family is established, and recognized. Kim is very appreciative of the strong community support that she has received thus far. She aspires to get more actively involved with the community, while providing the best possible service to her clients, as she optimizes animal health.  In 2018, Kim continues to work at the Mildmay Veterinary Clinic.

On June 12, 2013, at the Convocation Awards ceremony at OVC, Dr. Rebecca Egan was the recipient of our award.  Rebecca was born and raised in Guelph, Ontario. She completed an HBSc Animal Biology Degree in the Ontario Agricultural College at the University of Guelph, during which time she developed an interest in agriculture and animal production industries. While studying at OVC she had the opportunity to work in both research and government positions, focused on bovine medicine and food safety.  At the time of reciept of this award, Rebecca was employed at Mildmay Veterinary Clinic as an associate mixed animal practitioner. Rebecca has a keen interest in working with producers in the development, implementation and monitoring of health management programs, while striving to optimize animal health and overall production.

On June 13, 2012, at the Convocation Awards ceremony at OVC, Dr. Robyn Thompson was the recipient of our award.  Robyn grew up in Kincardine Township on a mixed farm, and learned to appreciate the strong rural communities of Grey and Bruce counties. At the time of the receipt of this award, Dr. Robyn Thompson was and remains employed at the Walkerton-Hanover Veterinary Clinic, as a mixed animal practitioner. At the time of the presentation, she commented that she is excited to have the opportunity to support the livestock producers and communities of Grey-Bruce in the future, as well as be close to her friends and family in the Kincardine/Ripley area.

On June 15, 2011, at the Convocation Awards ceremony at OVC, Dr. Talia Gurwitz was the recipient of our award. This was one of two awards that Talia received that day. Talia grew up in Toronto, but enjoyed her summers at a farm with horses, a few cows and sheep. As a young girl she knew that she wanted to live in a rural setting. Since then she has lived in: a small rural town in Vermont, USA; worked at a dairy farm in Bruce County; and volunteered on various farms across Canada, including a cow/calf operation and a greenhouse. At the time of receipt of this award, Talia was residing in Arthur and working at the Arthur Veterinary Clinic and the North Wellington Animal Hospital in Mount Forest. Currently Talia is employed with Markdale Veterinary Services.  Talia’s areas of focus includes: mastitis on dairy farms; pasture management on dairy, beef and sheep farms; and organic animal husbandry. Talia said at the time, that she appreciated living and working in the Arthur/Mount Forest rural area. "The clients and producers of the clinic are friendly and thoughtful, and eager to help her feel at home".

On June 16, 2010, at the Convocation Awards ceremony at OVC, Dr. Matt Schieck was the recipient of our award.  This was one of two awards that Matt received that day.  Matt grew up in the Drayton area on a Simmental cow calf operation. In previous summers, Matt had worked at the Listowel Vet Clinic and the Elora Dairy Research Centre.  At the time of the receipt of this award, and presently, Matt is employed by Markdale Veterinary Services. Matt says he, "appreciates living and working in this rural area where one can quickly feel that you are a part of the community".

In 2009, at the Convocation Awards ceremony at OVC, Dr. Stephanie Vamplew was the recipient of this new award.  This was one of the two awards that Stephanie received that day.  Stephanie grew up in Grey County, in the Owen Sound area.  She had worked in the local beef industry for 6 summers.  At the time of the receipt of this award, she was employed by Moore Veterinary Services, Chatsworth, and Chesley Veterinary Clinic. Presently Stephanie is employed at the Hertiage Animal Hospital in Owen Sound.  Stephanie believes that “livestock production is a vital part of our communities and economy, and hopes to have a role in preserving and expanding the opportunities here.”