Bill Jackson was presented the Stars of Alberta Volunteer Award on Dec. 2 by Highwood MLA RJ Sigurdson for his contributions to the Millarville Racetrack and Agricultural Society (MRAS).
“It’s a great community, and I enjoy working for it, and with it,” said Jackson.
Jackson, now 82 years old, grew up in the agricultural community on his parents' farm and began volunteering at the Millarville Market as a teen.
“I was a teenager and I was involved in the fair, and I’ve been involved in the other events since they started,” Jackson said.
In the time since he served as president for the society four times, starting in the ‘70s.
He lived on the family farm until 1969 when his parents sold, working for the provincial and county government for a number of years until 1989 when he started a bed and breakfast.
In 2009 he moved to the Turner Valley area, his son and daughter each carrying on rural tradition, living on quarter-sections that were homesteaded over 100 years ago.
“I’ve been a director for a total of 16 years," he said. "During that time, all of that was volunteer, then on the fair committees I was involved in different sections, the beef and the sheep mainly, then what’s called special events, and then for the races.”
The Ag Society mainstay said he was only one of many that contributed.
“I’m not one to stand up in the corner and say ‘Hey, look at me,'” Jackson said.
“I was just one of the many people that helped put the races together on July 1, and the same with the half-marathon we’ve had for years.
“It takes everybody to make a program work, and Millarville fortunately they’re the right distance from the city that people want to come and make it a destination. The market has been well managed and therefore we’ve got a great farmers' market and a great Christmas market.”
Because of those efforts, Jackson said the market has become a template for others across the province.
"We’ve kind of set the pace for a lot of things,” Jackson said.
“The Alberta Agriculture people, they look at Millarville as a prime example of a good ag society throughout the province.
“One of our fellows said at a meeting he’s been here six or seven years and can see it’s a kind of organization where they want to do something for the people of the community and the people that come to enjoy it.”
It was fellow volunteer and MRAS vice-president Barb Parker who nominated Jackson.
“He has been a pillar at the MRAS for over seven decades,” Parker said.
“His volunteerism and his willingness to support and help out in any way, shape or form over all those years is just something that I feel is very important and something to look up to.
“He always goes the extra mile and he’s a wealth of knowledge and people will certainly look up to him because of that.”
To her, Jackson embodies the MRAS mission statement’s principles of volunteerism and community spirit.
“Bill of all people certainly exudes that and shares that willingly with people,” she said.
“It’s all about coming together for the community and the betterment of society and that’s what they stand for, that’s what Bill stands for, and that’s the reason myself and many others are a part of the society and volunteer there.”
Jackson doesn’t see himself slowing down either.
“Yeah, even though I’m 82 years old, I’ve still got things to contribute,” he said.