The moment was 57 years in the making, a moment that brought about 270 people to their feet Thursday night at the Blue Mountain Conference Center.

Camille Hawkins, 97, was honored as Ag Woman of the Year at the 69th annual Farmer Merchant Banquet.

Hawkins, who received a standing ovation, has been farming for 57 years.

“It is very thrilling. It is the opportunity of a lifetime,” Hawkins told a crowd of about 270 banquet attendees as she accepted her award.

Hawkins, who lives between Union and Hot Lake, spoke with a sense of humility upon accepting the award. She recalled that after learning via a phone call she had been selected for the award she thought, “Why me?”

Moments after receiving the phone call, emotion got the best of her when she shared the news with her husband, Bill.

“I was crying as I told him,” Hawkins said.

Camille and Bill Hawkins grow hay and grain on their land but previously also raised cattle.

“It was one way of (semi) retiring, to sell off our cattle,” Camille Hawkins said.

It seems doubtful that Hawkins will fully retire anytime soon. She has a deep affection for farming. She said she immensely enjoys observing crops as they mature and has a deep love for the Grande Ronde Valley.

 See complete story in Friday's Observer