The Ambassador Beat: Brooke Thompson

The 4-H Ontario Ambassador program provides youth with advanced level training in leadership, citizenship, communications and public relations. Ambassadors put their energy and 4-H experiences to work recruiting new members and sharing the 4-H story. Throughout 2014, each of 4-H Ontario’s six Ambassadors will submit blog entries about their experiences in the program. The 4-H Ontario Ambassador program is proudly sponsored by GROWMARK, Inc. and UPI Energy LP. For more info on the Ambassador program click here. To book an Ambassador for you event please complete the request form.

Submitted by Brooke Thompson, 4-H Ontario Ambassador, York 4-H Association

I have had so much fun engaging in different events so far this summer and I am really enjoying my time as an Ontario 4-H Ambassador. I have had the privilege to go to many more events since the last time I blogged. I have since been to Sunderland’s Maple Syrup Festival, a York 4-H fundraiser and barbecue, Markham Youth Forum, Region 3 Discovery Day, the UPI Energy Annual Invitational Golf Tournament, the Ambassador Sponsor Tour and the Junior Dairy Show in Orono. I have had a blast being able go to all of these events meeting new people and sharing lasting experiences within my role as a 4-H Ambassador.

The 4-H Ambassador program has given me the advantage to further my knowledge within 4-H allowing me to experience and see things that I would have never seen without this amazing opportunity. Learning about maple syrup, helping with a beef show, playing games with junior 4-H members, running a mini putt activity at a golf tournament, touring co-ops and learning about our sponsors GROWMARK, Inc. and UPI Energy LP, and helping young 4-H members show their calves have been many of the highlights to my summer so far. It is always fun seeing familiar faces at 4-H related events as well as promoting 4-H to new people within the communities that I have visited around me.

I am looking forward to what the rest of my 4-H Ambassador experience has in store for me. I have more events coming up this summer that I am eager to get to! I want to personally thank all of those who have requested a 4-H Ambassador to participate at their events that they have planned. It has been both an honour and a privilege to be a part of the various events representing 4-H and making memories that will be cherished forever.

The Ambassador Beat: Kate Higgins

The 4-H Ontario Ambassador program provides youth with advanced level training in leadership, citizenship, communications and public relations. Ambassadors put their energy and 4-H experiences to work recruiting new members and sharing the 4-H story. Throughout 2014, each of 4-H Ontario’s six Ambassadors will submit blog entries about their experiences in the program. The 4-H Ontario Ambassador program is proudly sponsored by GROWMARK, Inc. and UPI Energy LP. For more info on the Ambassador program click here. To book an Ambassador for you event please complete the request form.

Submitted by Kate Higgins, 4-H Ontario Ambassador, Huron 4-H Association

Discovery Days As An Ambassador

It feels like yesterday, but in reality it was eight and nine ears ago when I attended 4-H Ontario Discovery Days as a young 4-H member. I had the privilege of going to Discovery Days in Teeswater in 2005 and Blyth in 2006 for Region 5. These are some of my fondest memories of 4-H that I still hold today! I still wear both my t-shirts even though one of them is a little worse for wear and has seen better days.

Being an Ambassador gave me the privilege of reliving the Discovery Days experience again from a different light. I went to Mildmay on May 31 for Region 5 and Erin on June 7 for Region 4. Both days were remarkable! I assisted participants with making their delicious pancake muffin snack and cool door hanger craft in Region 5 while getting to develop judging skills in participants in Region 4. I had so much fun spending the day with the kids and getting shot by a marshmallow gun by John Drummond. The groups of kids were unique in their own way, which made for a new opportunity for adventure at each activity! Whether it was coaching my team in Region 5 through Andy’s Mega Obstacle Course or making a parachute tee-pee with the kids in Region 4, they are days I will never forget.

Some things have changed since my original experience at Discovery Days, compared to my time now as an Ambassador, but many are just as awesome as I remember! There has always been the station rotation with parts like judging and Go For The Gold. Also, the t-shirts have been consistent souvenirs for the day, supported now by Beef Farmers’ of Ontario. One difference I can remember is having rabbits in Teeswater to judge. However Discovery Days will always be a day spent with good 4-H friends!

I would encourage every 4-H member to grab any friend, 4-H or not, and go to Discovery Days. It is an inexpensive, entertaining day that you won’t regret or forget. You can meet new people and also enjoy it with friends you already have. Events like these are only as good as the volunteers that are there, who never disappoint — so thank you for always making 4-H events incredible. I am so glad I had the opportunity to go again and any 9-12 year old should watch for a Discovery Day in there region and never hesitate to sign up for the next one.

4-H Ontario welcomes 4-H Jamaica to CAM

By Ryan Métivier

Among the numerous volunteers, members and staff who attended CAM 2014 in Waterloo, Ontario last month, were also a couple of our 4-H friends from the sunny south of Jamaica.

Dwain Moodie, Parish Development Officer at Jamaica 4-H Clubs and Devon Blake, Chairman and Public Relations Officer of the National Advisory Committee from St. Thomas, made the trip up north to experience 4-H life in Ontario and Canada. At the local level Blake is also a member of the Council at the St. Thomas Parish.

In 2013, 4-H Ontario sent three staff members to Jamaica for a weeklong trip that included extensive networking, government meetings, information gathering, and resource sharing, particularly in regards to youth programming and projects.

From left to right: Dwain Moodie, Marianne Fallis, Shonna Ward, Devon Blake.

4-H Ontario is benefitting from a unique international partnership with 4-H St. Thomas Parish, of Jamaica, which sees the two organizations share programming and operational knowledge, as well as valuable historical and organizational notes.

In 2014, it was Ontario’s turn to host the Jamaican delegates.

Moodie and Blake arrived in Ontario earlier in the week leading up to CAM, with a goal to experience the different workings of 4-H in another country, experience some new culture and maybe take some of the things they learned back to their home country and parish (what we call provinces).

The two had a busy itinerary planned for them that included a visit to their first Tim Horton’s, a stop through the 4-H Ontario office, the University of Guelph, several 4-H farms, St. Jacob’s Market and sitting in on a 4-H Chocolate Club where they had cookie tastings, made cookies and enjoyed the evening with 4-H members.

Seeing some of the farming equipment we use here was a great learning experience for them as well.

“We went out to John den Haan’s farm and we saw dairy. The experience was unique in that the technology used here, we don’t really have much of that yet in Jamaica,” said Blake.

Moodie has been involved in 4-H most of his life—from this time as a clubite (what we call a member), to a year of volunteering, and now working with Jamaican 4-H Clubs for the past eight years. He says his love of 4-H comes from knowing he’s able to impact the lives of youth and see the changes that take place in their lives. His visit to Canada was his first flight out of Jamaica and to Canada.

“I enjoyed meeting 4-H people, building relationships and being around and seeing the different farms and going to club meetings,” he said.

He was also probably the first visitor to Canada who chose “the snow” as one of his favourite parts of the trip as well.

In contrast, Blake says he gave his best effort to adapt to the cold temperatures and sleet and rain, but said you’ll never hear him tell anybody that he loves it.

“If there was something that was disappointing it was that we weren’t able to go to Niagara Falls because you guys decided to freeze the falls,” he said with a laugh.

So the snow may or may not be something our Jamaican friends are looking to bring back with them, however there were several other things which they will.

“The Open Mic session was good,” said Moodie. “We also got an opportunity to see how you guys recognize your volunteers and that you recognize your sponsors as well. That is something great.”

He also enjoyed seeing how involved and dedicated the Planning Committee was to organizing an event like CAM.

“At one of the farms I was able to hold a sheep in my hand for the first time in my life,” said Blake. “I was also able to hold a rabbit and able to jump a rabbit over obstacles for the first time in my life too. That rabbit jumping is definitely going to be a new Jamaican experience.”

He also spoke of his desire to incorporate a trivia wheel into their events and that he liked our auction system.

Would they come back to Canada?

“I would do again,” said Moodie. “I’d like to come back to Canada and basically engage other 4-H members and to learn more about the general culture.”

“I would definitely come back to Canada,” adds Blake. “It was my first time. I loved the experience. The people are very warm and friendly. They are a bit more disciplined than I am in terms of being on time. But that is something I can work on.”

For more information on the partnership between 4-H Ontario and the Jamaican 4-H Clubs click here.



The Ambassador Beat: Tamara Hamilton

The 4-H Ontario Ambassador program provides youth with advanced level training in leadership, citizenship, communications and public relations. Ambassadors put their energy and 4-H experiences to work recruiting new members and sharing the 4-H story. Throughout 2014, each of 4-H Ontario’s six Ambassadors will submit blog entries about their experiences in the program. The 4-H Ontario Ambassador program is proudly sponsored by GROWMARK, Inc. and UPI Energy LP. For more info on the Ambassador program click here. To book an Ambassador for you event please complete the request form.

Submitted by Tamara Hamilton, 4-H Ontario Ambassador, Russell 4-H Association 

Hi everyone!

My name is Tamara Hamilton and I am from Russell County. I have been an enthusiastic 4-H member for seven amazing years now. 4-H has given me so many life changing experiences from developing my leadership skills to teaching me the importance about taking risks. What better way to take both of those and to harness them then becoming a 4-H Ambassador. Doing so also gives back to all that 4-H has given me.

I have only been a 4-H Ambassador for a few months now and I can say that I am having the time of my life! So far I have only been able to participate in few events including the Ambassador Training Weekend (February 17), personally attending Future Leaders In Action (March 9-12, 2014) and have also participated in the Region 2 open house for Stormont County 4-H (March 29, 2014), but over the coming months am hoping to participate in many more.

I may have only taken part in a few events, nevertheless I am still besieged by the amount of passion and enthusiasm that is shown in every activity. Taking a look at the recent event I attended which was the open house for Stormont County 4-H, I couldn’t believe the amount of keenness in today’s youth. Many of them arrived at opening hours and participated in every game and activity that was there for them to do. The new members returning would educate them and include them in everything they did, ultimately making them feel united into the 4-H family. It was an incredibly rewarding experience. To see photos from this event visit the Stormont 4-H Facebook page here.

To date, being an ambassador has enabled me to share and express my passion for 4-H with the public and I know from what I’ve seen it has been contagious. It is the very leadership and collaboration skills that are a huge asset to my life ingrained into my personality. I can’t wait to continue to participate in the rest of my year as an ambassador and continue to meet many people and make many memories!

The Ambassador Beat: Brooke Thompson

The 4-H Ontario Ambassador program provides youth with advanced level training in leadership, citizenship, communications and public relations. Ambassadors put their energy and 4-H experiences to work recruiting new members and sharing the 4-H story. Throughout 2014, each of 4-H Ontario’s six Ambassadors will submit blog entries about their experiences in the program. The 4-H Ontario Ambassador program is proudly sponsored by GROWMARK, Inc. and UPI Energy LP. For more info on the Ambassador program click here. To book an Ambassador for you event please complete the request form.

Submitted by Brooke Thompson, 4-H Ontario Ambassador, York 4-H Association 

My name is Brooke Thompson, and I am from York County. I have been a 4-H member for eight life-changing years.

I have only been a 4-H Ambassador for a couple months now and I am having a blast! I have already had the opportunity to attend the following events:

Ambassador Training Weekend February 17, 2014
York Sign-up Night February 22, 2014
Durham West Rally Night March 5, 2014
College Royal March 15-16, 2014

At all my events I am overwhelmed by how enthusiastic and encouraging everyone is. Every event has taught me new skills and techniques that I am sure to use throughout my entire life. Being an ambassador has allowed me to share my passion for 4-H with many people and I can only hope that it has been contagious. Leadership and facilitation skills are a huge asset to my life that 4-H has been able to engrain into my personality. I am looking forward to the rest of my year as an ambassador and I hope to be able to meet many more amazing people!

Outstanding 4-H alumna begins her career

By Ryan Métivier

4-H is many things for many people and for Stephanie Huitema from Haldimand County, it proved to be a huge stepping stone in landing her current job as Marketing Coordinator at Erie Mutual Insurance.

A 4-H member from the time she was 16, up until she graduated from the program, Stephanie was a part of many clubs including sewing and quilting, cooking, baking, lifestyle, sheep, goat and many more. Stephanie was also a participant in yearly judging competitions, as well as the Go For The Gold (GFTG) competition. As a GFTG competitor, she went to Regionals three times, where she won twice, and also twice went to Provincials, placing fourth in 2010 and fifth in 2012.

In her graduating year of 2012, Stephanie was named Outstanding 4-H Member for the year, something she was honoured to be acknowledged with.

“What a great way to finish my career. I was speechless and remember not making any sense when I was thanking and accepting my award,” she says.

This past year, she was also given the responsibility of hosting the 2013 banquet.

How she went from accepting this award, to working for Erie Mutual, came from a newspaper article her now boss, read about her winning the Outstanding Member Award.

“My boss went on to ask the staff if anyone knew me. A friend from public school who also works there said she knew me and went on to email me and tell me to bring in my resume,” she says. “I went from two part-time jobs, to the stability of a full-time position and I am so grateful to work at a company that supports agriculture and 4-H. It is a very community-minded company.”

Stephanie says 4-H helped her career by giving her confidence, life skills, leadership qualities, and life-long friendships. It also helped in getting her name out there in the community.

“What I have enjoyed the most is the process of 4-H,” says Stephanie. “I started out so young and received help from older members, and over the years I saw myself transition into one of the older members that helped the younger ones.”

Even after graduating from 4-H, Stephanie remains connected and active in the 4-H community with three siblings and two cousins as members, and her mom as a volunteer and leader. Today, Stephanie is in her second year of volunteering and is looking forward to leading her first club this spring with one of her co-workers – also a 4-H volunteer. The club is called “Girl’s Night Out” and teaches young girls about self-esteem, confidence, the importance of healthy eating, as well as body and hair care.

A 4-H exchange 24 years later

Submitted by Dorothy Shier, Durham West

In 1989 Ontario Durham West 4-H had an exchange with Saskatchewan Wood Mountain 4-H. Dorothy Shier was the chaperone for Durham West. Her daughter Karen Shier, participated in the exchange.

Karen stayed with Darcy, Loretta and their son Crag Smith. The Smiths farmed their ranch, raising Hereford cattle, which their family showed in their local 4-H club.

Darcy, Loretta, Dorothy and her husband Keith were all 4-H members and leaders, with their families completing many years in 4-H. Some also went on to become leaders, and now their grandchildren are 4-H members too.

Over the years the families kept in touch, and the Shiers travelled west to visit the Wood Mountain 4-H Club at their Achievement Day. They also exchanged letters and pictures at Christmas, telephone calls and emails.

In Sept 2013 Loretta and Darcy decided to come to Ontario to stay with Dorothy and Keith. Keith and Dorothy’s granddaughter Kelly Crawford is a member of the Simcoe North 4-H Beef Club. Keith and Dorothy took Darcy and Loretta to see Kelly’s Achievement Day and Kelly’s leader Kevin Moore, had a contest for all alumni members to participate in. Seeing as 2013 was Canada’s 100th Anniversary, Kevin wanted all of the alumni to show a beef animal at the end of the Achievement Day. Darcy and Keith took up the challenge and a great time was had by all!

From l-r: Dorothy, Karen and Keith Shier, Darcy and Loretta Smith

Alumni Focus: Roger Pommainville

By Ryan Métivier

Roger Pommainville had a unique 4-H experience growing up in Russell County, being a part of what was one of, if not the only Cucumber Club in Ontario. With several cucumber growers nearby with contracts with Bick’s Pickles in Montreal, there were two sorting stations in the area for pickle companies. Many of these growers were involved with a lot of small producers.

“As in any other crop club, we learned how to grow cucumbers as well as visiting the grading station for Bick’s Pickles which was installed in Limoges and other growers,” says Roger.

Members also learned how to present an exhibit of around 10 mid-size cucumbers for uniformity, size and healthiness of the specimens. One of Roger’s fondest memories was winning the trophy for his exhibit in 1966, which was awarded by Bick’s.

In addition to being a member of the Cucumber Club, he was also a member of dairy and crops clubs.

Roger spent his time in 4-H during the 1960’s in a variety of roles, being involved as a secretary, news reporter and president. But his time with the 4-H program didn’t end there as he returned in the late 80’s and 90’s as a volunteer leader for his own children once they joined in Prescott County. During this time he was also a part of the Prescott County Leader’s Association. Roger was also involved as an instructor from 1972-78, when he became an Assistant Ag Rep in Russell County with OMAF–back when Ag Reps were in charge of the 4-H clubs and were the main instructors.

Roger credits the 4-H program for teaching him the skills needed for working in teams and groups, as well as helping to prepare him to give public presentations during judging, as well as meetings and leadership trainings.

“The skills learned in 4-H helped me in all the different positions I held in my life,” he says.

Roger’s life outside of 4-H has included positions as a Communications Officer with Ag Canada at the Central Experimental Farm in Ottawa, teaching an agricultural co-op program to high school students, work in OMAFRA as a milk quality and community advisor, and his current role as an interpreter at the Civilization Museum in Gatineau. He was also involved in organizing three French leadership camps held at the Alfred College from 1996 to 1999.


Looking back at years of 4-H memories

Submitted By Ann Heinmiller (Uhler)

I grew up on a farm in Huron County, and hearing the stories of 4-H from my dad, couldn’t wait to turn 12 to be able to start my first club.

I still remember my first meeting, Adventures in the Great Outdoors. I was hooked from day one. In all, I took 19 different clubs ranging from cooking, to knitting, and etiquette to vet club. But for me, it wasn’t just the clubs, it was the extra opportunities that 4-H had to offer me.

At 15 I attended Member’s Conference, which at that time was held at Centralia. There I got to meet people from other counties, some of who I recognized from high school, but didn’t know until camp. The last night there was the first all-nighter that I pulled! I was exhausted by the time I got home, but knew I wanted to keep participating in 4-H.

As soon as I was old enough, I went to the the Provincial 4-H Camp. It rained the first couple of days, but it didn’t dampen my spirits. The people I met were people like me, from a farm background, and anxious to try new things and meet new people. We did so much that week it went by in a blur, but I remember how much fun I had, and not being able to stop talking about.

As I got older, other opportunities through 4-H became available to me. I participated in Go For The Gold at the local level and I went to Future Talk weekend, where we worked on presentation skills that would help us in our future endeavours. This was also the weekend that made me want to go the University of Guelph. As Future Talk was meant for senior members, the majority of the delegates were either at U of G, or planning to go. I knew then that was the school I was going to, which I did.

From Future Talk, I was invited to Selections Weekend. Throughout the weekend we had to do a presentation about our county, impromptu speaking, a quiz and an interview, all skills that have benefitted me in my adult life. I was fortunate enough to be selected to attend the National 4-H Conference in Ottawa in the spring of 1995 and what a unique opportunity it was to be able to meet top 4-Her’s from across Canada.

Lucky for me, my 4-H career didn’t end there. In the summer of 1998, I was a summer intern for 4-H. I spent the summer working at the OMAFRA office in Guelph where I updated 4-H manuals and got to attend a 4-H Member’s Conference as a leader. I felt it was my way to give back to a program that had given me so much.

Today when I look back at my years at 4-H, I could never of imagined the skills and opportunities it gave me. 4-H gave me the confidence to try new things and meet new people. It allowed me to practice my presentation skills and interview skills, which as a teacher has been invaluable to me. Thank you 4-H for all you have given me.

Huron claims Go For The Gold glory

By Ryan Métivier

On Saturday, November 2, participants from across all six 4-H Ontario regions descended upon the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair to compete in the 2013 Go For The Gold Provincial Championships, sponsored by Ontario Mutuals.

Go For The Gold is a trivia competition that gives 4-H’rs a chance to learn many new facts and compete amongst their peers.

After five preliminary rounds of competition, Region 4 – Halton and Region 5 – Huron, came up head-to-head in the championship game, with Huron taking the title by a narrow 165-155 margin. In a match that was fairly even for most of the game, Huron gradually increased their lead in the latter stages of the game, before a late comeback from Halton fell just short.

Region 4 - Halton

The Region 5 champions included Jeanette Schramm, Jolande Oudshoorn, Melissa Higgins, Reba Jefferson and Alternate Kate Higgins. The team was coached by Mary Ellen Foran and Marita Oudshoorn.

The team is made up of several family members and neighbours, and the girls are all a part of the Wawanosh Life Skills Club.

Team Captain Melissa Higgins, said her education in the Agriculture Program at the University of Guelph helped in quite a bit in her preparations, but the team also divided up the books and used a “divide and conquer” method to prepare.

“This morning we were feeding each other fun facts and because of that, we did get a Who Am I question right on the first try,” she said when asked about last-minute competition strategies.

In a tight final, Huron edged out Halton by a 165-155 score.

“It’s a really exciting competition and it’s just really fun to get involved with something with other 4-H people,” said Schramm. “You meet people from all across the province.”

Though the team from Huron County amassed an impressive average of over 200 points per game, the competition didn’t come without its challenges.

“The pop-ups are nerve racking, and the snappers,” said Jefferson. “Just cause it’s at the end of the game and true and false is hard. It’s 50/50, but it’s hard.”

“It feels good to win. Sort of makes you feel like a rock star in the 4-H world,” said Higgins.

“I’m super excited because my roommate was on the Region 6 team and I beat her. So now I can hang my winning ribbon on my doorway,” laughed Jefferson.

The teams in competition included Sudbury (Region 1), Carleton (Region 2), Prince Edward (Region 3), Halton (Region 4), Huron (Region 5) and Oxford (Region 6).

“We’re really proud of the team and all of the work they’ve put in over the past few months to prepare for the competition,” said Head Coach Foran.

In order for teams to participate at the Provincial Go For The Gold competition they must have competed at and won their local and regional levels. This weekend’s competition presented the ultimate challenge to members by testing their skills and understanding of 4-H project material as well as general knowledge of 4-H, agriculture, food, nutrition and current events.

“4-H is all about building skills and learning to do by doing and I’ve heard stories about obstacles and surprises and every team has fought through those to get here and have this experience today,” said Debra Brown, Executive Director, 4-H Ontario. “I hope you take many good memories of your experience today, and congratulations to everyone for all that you’ve learned and accomplished.”

For more Go For The Gold coverage check out our Youtube Channel for a video covering the event and interviews with our winners here!

Region 5 - Huron GFTG Champions. From left - right: Head Coach Mary Ellen Foran, Reba Jefferson, Jolande Oudshoorn, Melissa Higgins, Jeanette Schramm, Alternate Kate Higgins, Assistant Coach Marita Oudshoorn.