From left; Morgan Anderson, Mitchell Anderson, Sue Boyle, Denis Debot, and Ken McEwen. (Photo by Kirk Dickinson/CKXS News)

Five individuals who have had a positive impact on the local agricultural sector have been awarded for their contributions.

The 76th annual Rural Urban Awards took place Wednesday evening at the John D. Bradley Convention Centre, with several presentations made to honour award recipients.

Mitchell Anderson, a first-year student at Guelph University, was awarded as the Youth Agriculturist of the Year, along with his sister Morgan Anderson, who was named Youth Agriculturist of the Year for the previous year.

Mitchell, 18, and Morgan, 20, both grew up on their family’s farm just outside of Ridgetown, which greatly influenced their interest in agriculture.

“Mom and dad bringing toy tractors back, helping grandma in the garden and just going for rides with grampa in the tractor and dad in the tractor — that’s just how it started,” said Mitchell.

Mitchell and Morgan have been heavily active in local agriculture since they were young and both said they plan to pursue careers in the industry in the future.

“Just being a part of the agricultural industry and being a role model for those kids with what Mitch and I had,” said Morgan. “Mom and dad were definitely big role models for us in the agriculture industry.”

Ken McEwen, a research professor at the University of Guelph Ridgetown campus, was also awarded on Wednesday and named the Friend of Agriculture.

McEwen, who is also a former director at the Ridgetown Campus, said he attributes the award to his research and teaching contributions in the agriculture industry.

He added that events such as the Rural Urban Awards help those outside of the industry better understand help the scope and complexity of local agriculture.

“There’s no question that agriculture is continuing to consolidate into fewer and fewer hands, so the gap between rural life and urban life continues to widen. So having opportunities like this to understand each other and bring awareness to that issue, it’s very important,” said McEwen.

Also awarded Wednesday night was Dennis DeBot, a Wallaceburg native, who was named Agriculture Innovator of the Year, and Danny Ellis who was awarded posthumously as Agriculturist of the Year.

The awards event was hosted by the Chatham-Kent Chamber of Commerce