Hello. Bonjour. Hola. Guten Tag. Ciao. Namaste. Nay Hoh. Ni Hau.
The friendly faces welcoming you to the Agriculture Zone during the Calgary Stampede are the Ag Ambassadors.
“We make people feel welcome. We’re a source of information but also a friendly group of volunteers who provide western hospitality,” says Anita Bucsis, an Agrium Ag-Tivity in the City volunteer who leads the Ag Ambassadors team. The native Calgarian has been a Stampede volunteer for about 20 years and enjoys giving back to the Stampede and the city.
Bucsis leads a team of about 100 Stampede volunteers who speak about 10 different languages such as Punjabi, Mandarin, Korean, Japanese, French, Spanish, Italian and more. One year our volunteers covered 26 different languages, says Bucsis, adding, “It’s nice to welcome people in the language they speak.”
Bucsis recruits new volunteers every year, specifically looking for people who can speak other languages. “You also need to be a people person and have a sense of humour,” she says.
That sense of humour comes in handy when you’re holding one of the Ag Ambassadors’ funny signs, such as “I speak Calgarian. How can I help you?” or “I speak Manitoban. How can I help you?”
Funny signs draw people in, says Bucsis, adding, the Ag Ambassadors get several photo requests a day. “Everyone wants their picture taken with us and our signs.”
Humour aside, the main purpose of the Ag Ambassadors is to promote agriculture, says Bucsis. The team is happy to answer all your agriculture questions, direct you around the Agriculture Zone and encourage you to attend the various free agriculture events.
But we also provide tourists with advice and tips on what to see and do in Calgary and Alberta, says Bucsis.
Tourists from around the world stop by, says Bucsis. “Sometimes we bring them up to the International Agriculture Room. I’ve met so many great people through being an Ag Ambassador.”
The Ag Ambassadors also offer barn tours. Bucsis recalls hosting a group of special needs kids one year. She toured them around to all the Ag exhibits. “The kids were in the stall with the draft horses,” she says. “They were over the top excited about it.”
If the Ag Ambassadors receive questions they can’t answer, they direct people to the Stampede information booths.
Stop by the wooden cabin in front of the Agrium Western Event Centre (AWEC) and say hello to the Ag Ambassadors during Stampede. You can find them there from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day.