By Trevor Busch
Four deserving candidates from among the region’s youth were honoured this past weekend at the APEX Youth Awards, taking home generous bursaries to assist them in their future endeavours.
Hosted at the Taber Community Centre Auditorium, Friday evening’s gala event would see Zachary Baier, Jessie Ferguson, Kianna Kuipers and Grant Petronech receive $1,500 bursaries from APEX’s major sponsors Avail CPA, Town of Taber, Taber Citizens on Patrol, and South Country Co-op. The 10 other nominees were all recognized and celebrated at the banquet.
The APEX Youth Awards were developed to recognize individuals who represent the best qualities in Taber and area youth, who selflessly give of themselves in the service of others.
Taber’s Zachary Baier, a St. Mary School student, will be putting his bursary toward continuing his education in the future.
“I feel honoured that I was even nominated. I’m going to save it for schooling.”
D.A. Ferguson Middle School student Grant Petronech is reportedly the school’s first APEX nominee to become a finalist since the inception of the awards almost two decades ago.
“I feel very pleased that people just around in the community have recognized me for what I do to help others out with stuff happening in the community, and just having a positive effect on people that they are saying that this person has really helped them, and helped the community become a better community.”
Petronech plans to use the funds to help with a 2020 exchange trip to Higashiomi City, Japan, which is twinned with Taber.
“I plan for it to help take me to Japan for my Notogawa exchange, so I can have more money to give gifts to my host family, and to give gifts to others when I come back — and for me to actually go there.”
Vauxhallite Kianna Kuipers was enamored with the achievements and character of her fellow nominees, and was not expecting a win.
“(It feels) Really good. I was not expecting it. There’s a bunch of amazing people here, so I’m just really happy that I was honoured.”
The prospective veterinarian also plans to put her bursary to good use through her post-secondary studies.
“Definitely towards school. For me, I’m planning to go to school for quite a long time, so this will definitely help with that.”
Vauxhallite and high school rodeo queen Jessie Ferguson also took time to thank sponsors and recognize her fellow nominees.
“I am very thankful. I very much appreciate the committee who helped put it on and all the sponsors. I was not expecting this at all. I’m very, very impressed with everyone that was participating.”
Ferguson plans to put the money towards her future education.
“With my bursary, I plan on going for post-secondary education. I would like to become an animal nutritionist, and so I will utilize that to partake in my next adventure.”
Over the past 19 years the APEX Youth Awards have recognized and celebrated the contributions of hundreds of young people who have made a difference in their community. With the continued support of local business, there has been approximately $120,000 in bursaries given to 76 APEX winners.
The evening’s keynote speaker was Taberite Daniel Waeckerlin, who talked about his struggles after suffering a brain injury in his youth, his long road to recovery, and the strategies and methods he has utilized to achieve success in his life path despite hardships.
“Living life well isn’t always easy. Everyone has challenges and struggles in their life. Most try to do the best for themselves, and many help others when they can. Some go above and beyond. Tonight, we’re celebrating the finest young members who do exactly that.”
Waeckerlin imparted some wisdom and words to live by for the region’s youth.
“I know that major struggles aren’t suddenly overcome by a flash of insight, but by continued, sustained effort. One must continually learn, grow and move forward to make the most of life, for yourself and those around you. Since my late teens, I’ve valued the importance of drive and gratitude to make the most of life. ‘Appreciate what you have and use it’ is a phrase I use to motivate myself to do just that.”
In 2002 the APEX Youth program started as a partnership with the Taber Rotary Club and the Taber Times, but when the original Rotary Club of Taber disbanded in 2008, concerned community leaders felt the APEX program was important enough to continue. Together, they formed the APEX Committee and with the Taber Times have continued to organize the event.