The Ambassador Beat : Lauren Bos

Oh the Places You Could Go….(even when you are stuck at home) 

By Lauren Bos

When I picked this topic for my blog post I originally thought that things would be much, much different. Not once did I think that we would be locked down in quarantine. My first weekend as a 4-H Ambassador was a great experience and gave me a chance to connect with the other Ambassadors. Everyone was super kind, and it was a weekend that I will never forget. Hearing everyone’s 4-H memories, the clubs they had been involved in, and so much more about each of them. Better yet, we also signed up for all the amazing activities planned for the summer!

Then COVID-19 happened. Like many others, 4-H Ontario made the tough decision to put in-person events on hold or cancel them due to the current pandemic. If it weren’t for COVID-19, by this time of the year we would have been at the Ontario 4-H Foundation golf tournaments, Discovery Days and events such as fairs and plowing matches, and of course the FS Sponsor Tour.

We planned to travel the province speaking about the amazing benefits of 4-H, and suddenly we couldn’t. As 4-H Ambassadors, we knew we had to turn this negative into a positive. We have had monthly meetings through Zoom to keep up with one another and to meet any deadlines that are coming up. These meetings also gave us the opportunity to hang out and brainstorm. We asked ourselves some questions:  

  • How about when we aren’t being 4-H ambassadors?
  • How can we as 4-H members showcase 4-H?
  • When we are just out and about with our day not wearing our 4-H attire, how do we showcase 4-H?

As 4-H members, we normally share our determination, hard work and learning at our achievement days, which typically are done in person. We realized that there are ways to recognize achievements during COVID-19 that don’t involve an in-person element. When those around us see how we act and care for what is going on, it exemplifies exactly what 4-H is all about: Head, Heart, Hands, Health and how we “Learn To Do By Doing”.

Youth standing with lambs at fair.

Through 4-H, we are taught to treat everyone as an equal. We are always willing to teach others about what we know and aren’t afraid to ask questions to learn more about what we don’t know. We have also learned how important it is to be involved in the community from participating in fairs, farmers’ markets, doing roadside clean-ups for the health of the environment and so much more. Contributing to our community is a big part of what makes 4-H so great and amazing.

The places that we could showcase 4-H are all around us. It truly is going to be an amazing year even with the differences of COVID-19. Many clubs been able to meet virtually and talk about what we’ve been up to which has really helped keep us connected. As 4-H members, alumni, friends, and family, we can all show how 4-H has changed us for the better in  what we do, how we live, what we have learned and so much more. Oh the places we can go, even when we cannot.

Youth uses 4-H baking skills to start small bread business during COVID-19

By Laura Goulding

Brock Ruttan, Prince Edward 4-H’er, began the 4-H Bread Venture club in early 2020, his first 4-H club since graduating from 4-H’s Cloverbud program. In the Bread Venture club, Brock enjoyed spending time with his friends and learned how to make bread and pretzels.

In March the COVID-19 pandemic struck, and all in-person 4-H activities were suspended until further notice as a result of social distancing protocols put in place by the government. Unfortunately, Brock’s Bread Venture club was cancelled after only two meetings, but that didn’t stop him from building upon his new found baking skills.

Youth standing in kitchen beside baked goods he made.

Brock’s Aunt, Treena, helped him bake bread at home and from there Brock learned how to make cheese bread, cinnamon buns and garlic bread. “My favourite is cheese bread because cheese is my favourite food and my next favourite food is bread, so why not put it all together in one,” says Brock. 

“My family liked my baking so much that I was doing a lot of baking and using all the flour and yeast. I asked for money so I could buy more ingredients and keep making bread,” says Brock. In addition to building bread making skills, Brock also learned about the relationship between expenses, revenue and profit, critical elements in running a small business. 

“We are so proud of him and this is the reason we need to keep 4-H for young people. We may have the next successful chef in our midst,” says Lynn Ward, Prince Edward 4-H Association volunteer.

The Ambassador Beat : Caitlyn Kolb

My Youth Adventure Camp Journey

Shy, quiet 12-year-old me hopped on to a bus full of other kids that I had never met.

I was scared.

I was nervous.

But most of all I was excited! Little did I know that the next five days would have such a huge impact on my life today.

As the bus pulled up to the camp we were all greeted by several enthusiastic camp facilitators! This was the beginning of my first Youth Adventure Camp journey!

I remember so clearly. At 12 years old I didn’t really realize it but looking back on it now I can see how much this week really made me who I am today.

The week was full of activities such as ice breaker games, archery, camp fires, camp songs, capture the flag, swimming and so much more! As the week went on I made new connections with so many people, developed my leadership skills, and was able to step outside of my comfort zone.

I conquered my fear of heights while rock climbing, was able to take on a leadership role by assisting a blind-folded person to build a tent, and problem solved by completing several puzzling challenges.

As my week of Youth Adventure Camp came to an end we all said goodbye and I headed back on that bus. 12-year-old me looked back on the week, remembering the fun times and the people I met, but not fully aware of how that week had such an impact on my life.

After that week I knew I wanted to attend that camp again. So, I did… two more times!

As I got older and continued going back to Youth Adventure Camp I slowly started to understand how the volunteers and facilitators were so focused on shaping us group of kids into future leaders at a young age. Every single activity we completed was in some way positively impacting the future of all of us.

Here I am today (of course wishing for another summer at Youth Adventure Camp), once again reflecting upon my experiences at camp.

I was so quiet, shy, and unsure of how to act in group situations at 12 years old. But now I am 19 years old, just finished my second year on university and beginning my summer job as a crop scout.

I am comfortable working in group settings, I enjoy contributing to group projects and taking on leadership roles whenever possible. I am able to strive to be the best I can and to constantly push myself outside of my comfort zone.

It all started the second I got on to that bus heading to Youth Adventure Camp.

I am so thankful I attended Youth Adventure Camp and would highly recommend it to anyone between that ages of 12 and 15 as it is a great way to build leadership skills at a young age that will stick for all future endeavours!




The Ambassador Beat : Jasmine Gillyatt

My Favourite 4-H Club

Being in my final year of 4-H, and during this time of social distancing, I find myself thinking a lot about my years in 4-H. All the experiences I’ve had, and the friends I’ve made. But one question comes back to me every time, and it’s a question I haven’t ever been able to answer, what is my favourite 4-H project?

With 67 projects completed in all, I have yet to find one project to be my overall favourite but I still look back from time to time and remember the skills I still learned from all of them.

Narrowing it down, I think I would have to lean toward a club that I have been a Youth Leader with. They say you remember things so much better if you can teach it to others, and I think that is true for youth leading a club too. I also find that I enjoy those clubs so much more. I have been a Youth Leader in five clubs throughout my tenure: Beekeeping, Book, Square Dancing, Best Of The Bakery, and Spice Of Life. Being a Youth Leader allows you to become more involved in the club as a whole. You can lead activities with the members and end up enjoying the club more because you are sharing in the fun of an activity with others.

If I had to pick my absolute favourite I think I would have to say Spice Of Life. In this club I got to watch members (leaders and myself) go from not being able to identify many herbs and spices to being able to identify most of them. I watched members come out of their shells and become comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas.

In each club I have learned something new, met new people, and had new experiences that I never would have had if I hadn’t joined 4-H.  4-H has some of the best people I have ever met, from the leaders to its members. Their involvement in these clubs makes them even better. That’s why I find it so difficult to pick just one club to be my favourite, and that’s why I will always recommend 4-H to anyone I meet. It’s not just about that one six meeting club, but every club, throughout your entire 4-H career.

The Ambassador Beat : James Gilchrist

2020 4-H Ontario Ambassador hopes for the year

Hi all my name is James Gilchrist and I am one of the 2020 4-H Ontario Ambassadors. I have been in 4-H since I was 10 making this my 12th and final year of 4-H. During my time in 4-H I have completed about 25 clubs. Every year I have completed a Dairy Calf project, but I have also completed an assortment of other clubs such as demo derby, explore 4-H, a variety of life skills projects, plowing, tractor safety and sporting chance. After my first provincial leadership camp, Future Leaders in Action (FLIA), I came back wanting to get more involved in 4-H whether it’s on a club level as a youth leader or a provincial level like becoming a 4-H Ontario Ambassador. 

Hopes for the year as a 4-H Ontario Ambassador

During my year as a 4-H Ontario Ambassador I really want to get out to interact with the with the community, to let the public learn about 4-H and help the 4-H community become more passionate about 4-H. I’m really excited about all the events that have been booked for the ambassadors so far and those that are still coming in. There are several events coming up that I’m very excited for such as the Discovery Days in Emo (Region 1) as it will be the farthest west I have traveled in Canada. I will get to see what 4-H is like for those in northern Ontario. As well I’m pumped for the FS golf tournament in June because it will be the first golf tournament I have ever attended. I will get to meet the sponsors and learn more about FS. Another thing I am eager to see while attending camps and events is to get to see the next generation of 4-H members. Hopefully I can help ignite their love and dedication to 4-H much like the camps and facilitators of the camps that I attended did for me.

Along with the camps and events we will be attending as 4-H Ontario Ambassadors, we need to complete a community engagement project. This project is meant for 4-H Ontario Ambassadors to get out in our communities to make a difference and to promote 4-H and what its about. I have several ideas in mind for my community engagement project, but you will have to stay tuned to see what it is I will be doing

New this year, the 4-H Ontario Ambassadors will be on Instagram and I can say that we are all super excited about it. We will be chronicling our lives as 4-H Ontario Ambassadors and keeping you up to date on where we’ve been, what we have done. Please check us out on Instagram @4honambassaors

The Ambassador Beat : Rose Danen

Following in My Mom’s Footsteps: Why I Want to be a 4-H Leader

I can’t believe what I’m about to say… I’m going to be 21 this year.

While most may see 21 as a pretty insignificant milestone, the thought of my 21st birthday breaks my heart because it means this is going to be my last year as a 4-H participant.

Over 10 years in 4-H?! Where did the time go?!

The last few weeks have been spent reminiscing about all the amazing memories and opportunities 4-H gave me – clubs completed, camps attended, friends made, skills developed. All this reminiscing made me sad because I didn’t want it to be over.

But then I began thinking about my mom, and how this all started because she encouraged 10-year-old me to join my first 4-H club. This is when I realized ‘Wait! This doesn’t have to be my last year of 4-H.’

 A 4-H Leader Just Like My Mom

My 4-H journey isn’t over… it’s just beginning. I can become a 4-H leader, just like my mom!

I came to this realization because my mom never gave up 4-H herself after she turned 21. She has actively continued to be involved in 4-H since she was a little girl. She started as a member, then a volunteer, and now she’s a leader.

In my eyes, my mom has always been a 4-H leader. It has become a part of her identity. She’s the one who taught me how to show cows, how to recite the 4-H pledge, how to be a leader.

Looking at my mom’s 4-H journey, I realized being a 4-H leader is a great way to stay involved in 4-H and follow in my mom’s footsteps.

Why I Want to Be a 4-H Leader

I think the biggest reason why I want to become a 4-H leader is because it allows me to pass on the torch.

If it wasn’t for my mom, I would have never joined 4-H and been given all these amazing opportunities and I want to give other youth that same opportunity my mom gave me. I want to spread the awesomeness that is 4-H to all corners of my community.

I also want to be a 4-H leader because it can be an awesome outlet for me to utilize the skills I learned as a 4-H member.

Through the clubs I have completed, I learned how to sew, how to bake, how to garden, how to lead a healthy lifestyle. How awesome would it be to take those skills and pass them on to the next generation of youth?

Also, the skill I would be utilizing the most – leadership – also happens to be the most prominent skill I developed through 4-H. Being an ambassador, going to Provincial 4-H Leadership Camp and Future Leaders in Action, completing the Youth Leader project… all of it will make me an amazing 4-H leader.

I also want to be a 4-H leader so that I can give back to an organization that has already given me so much. I want to donate my time and money and invest in youth of tomorrow. I want to take my passions and turn them into new clubs. I want 4-H to spread its reach into more urban communities.

Though, as long as I get to keep being a part of 4-H, I’m happy. 

A Message to My Fellow Senior 4-Hers

This realization isn’t just for me. It’s for all senior 4-H members who are trying to figure out how to say goodbye to 4-H as they grow too old to be a member.

Guess what? You don’t have to say goodbye either.

You too can become a 4-H leader and start giving back to your community. Being a 4-H leader is such an amazing opportunity for you to volunteer, to mentor youth, and be a part of something bigger than yourself.

I’m sure you have a 4-H leader like my mom. I’m sure that leader has had a significant impact on your life and who you are today. Can you imagine being able to have that same impact on the next generation of 4-H members?

Now that I have this idea in my head, I can’t wait until the time is right in my life to become a 4-H leader.

Thanks mom.

The Ambassador Beat: Christie Annett

The Bigger the Challenge, the Bigger the Opportunity

This year marks my graduating year from 4-H as a member.  I was 9 when I joined my first 4-H clubs: Horse, Field Crops and Sheep. I am now 21 and as I look back, I reflect on my commitment to 4-H throughout high school, college, jobs, schoolwork, sports, moving and a full-time job. We grow by overcoming challenges and I have definitely grown through all my 4-H experiences so much that I am now a 4-H Leader.

According to 4-H Ontario, the average tenure for a youth is 3.7 years (2018), yet I was in 4-H for 12 years. Why do some youth stay in 4-H and some move on from 4-H after only a very few years?  For lots of young people, there is pressure to get a job, combined with school work and other extracurricular activities. For me, my parents made sure 4-H was a priority.  My dad was my field crop leader and all my siblings were in the club. My mom always said this is our time in life to be 4-H member and take advantage of as many 4-H opportunities as possible! So, I went to Career Mania and that was when I knew that I wanted more. I LOVED 4-H camps and made new friends that I still have to this day.

So, how can we encourage members to stay in 4-H longer? I think it is important for both parents and youth to understand the long-term impact that is possible through 4-H. For some parents, becoming a volunteer in their Association is a great way to start. I think that we should take on this challenge and increase that 3.7 year tenure to 10 years and more!

The Ambassador Beat: Rebecca Stockdale

The 4-H Pledge and my 4-H story

By: Rebecca Stockdale

I have been in this wonderful program for over a decade and am now starting my 11th year in 4-H. Every year I look back and reflect on all the memories I have made, the relationships I’ve built and all of the lessons I have learned.  

From cold 2 a.m. mornings at the wash rack at The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair with my club, to the summer nights playing games at cooking meetings, nothing will compare to the experiences that 4-H has blessed me with. The skills we learn in 4-H shape us into well-rounded people.

Throughout the years in 4-H, I have often found myself relating to the pledge, especially now that I am a new volunteer.

I pledge my head to clearer thinking:

  • I have learned to problem solve and think on my feet. For example, at one of my clubs I had to save a recipe when my group added a tablespoon of cinnamon instead of a teaspoon.
  • Social skills and public speaking techniques are skills I’ve gained doing 4-H activities through learning to judge, leading activities and giving instructions in clubs.

I pledge my heart to greater loyalty:

  • In livestock clubs, the main lesson you learn is how to care for animals. Because you spend so much time with them, becoming attached to your 4-H project is inevitable, which teaches empathy and responsibility.
  • Through working with different age groups, we have a chance to help younger members, and encourage them to try new things.
  • One of the best parts of 4-H is building relationships and making lifelong friends. Thanks to this program I have friends from one end of the province to the other.

I pledge my hands to larger service:

  • Giving what you can to help others and accepting help yourself is a big part of the program. I have been to many cattle shows and achievement days, and everyone is always willing to help each other prepare for the day.
  • In my 4-H family we often help boost each other up and give strength to other members. Supporting your friends are a huge part of 4-H.

I pledge my health to better living:

  • I have learned how to be a better person and value my health. Most clubs get me outside and give me the chance to exercise. Physically when we’re playing games and working with animals, or mentally, when brainstorming.

This pledge is not only for my club my community, my country and my world, but for my schooling, my career, and my future.

The Ambassador Beat : Mel Karpenko

Without 4-H, it’s a dream. With 4-H, it’s an experience.  

By: Mel Karpenko

I pledge my head to clearer thinking, my heart to greater loyalty, my hands to larger service, and my health to better living, for my club, my community, my country, and MY WORLD.  

Who would have guessed that what seems to many as a small-town club for farm kids, would offer youth the chance to travel 8,513km out of their comfort zone? For me, it was an incredible opportunity I was fortunate to experience through 4-H.

Imagine – You fill out the application and dream of being selected for a life changing experience. All you can do is answer the questions to the best of your ability, hit send and cross your fingers and toes.  

Skip ahead and you receive a confirmation that you have been offered the chance to interview for the 4-H Canada Going Global Exchanges program! Suddenly this is becoming very real. You are aware that there is tough competition for this opportunity and that many of the applicants are just as deserving of the position. So, you prepare and make sure to do your best. 

Suddenly, it’s the end of March, you’ve just arrived home from school and you receive an email from 4-H Canada! You hold your breath as you click on the email and you re-read each word making sure you understand it correctly. After a moment it sinks in, all your preparation has paid off. You did it, you have been selected to travel to Argentina! 

The day finally arrives to board the plane and start your adventure. (Don’t forget to check the weather before you pack! Just because it’s south doesn’t mean it’s always hot!)  When you get off the plane and are welcomed by open arms, warm houses and grateful hearts. All that’s left to do is enjoy and absorb the experience.  

Being in an unfamiliar country with an unfamiliar language leads to strong relationships being built very quickly. Anyone who has been a part of a 4-H opportunity knows that relationships developed through 4-H are unlike any other.   

There are many opportunities available to 4-H’ers through both 4-H Ontario and 4-H Canada. Each opportunity offers new experiences to learn, grow and build relationships. Sometimes the hardest part is submitting the application.  

The Farmer-Florist. How this 4-H Farmpreneur turned her passion into a reality

By Laura Goulding

“Our mission is more flowers for more people more often,” says Amber Swidersky, Farmer-Florist and owner of Petals Flower Co. Petals Flower Co. is a full-service flower shop located on a small farm in Melancthon, ON. Born of a passion for flowers, Petals Flower Co. has a one-acre flower field with over a hundred varieties and colours of flowers, along with a flower shop in the garage on Amber’s family beef and sheep farm.

“There are so many awesome things about Petals, I think my favourite is that every day is learning,” says Amber. Amber began growing and selling flowers at the Shelburne Farmers Market in 2015 and in 2017 the opportunity emerged to take on flowers every day. Petals Flower Co. has four part-time staff who help in all areas of the business from delivery, flower field management, designing and much more.

In addition, Petals Flower Co. also offers a community-supported agriculture (CSA) program and hosts on-farm workshops. The CSA program provides flower lovers with the chance to fill their homes with fresh local flowers all spring and summer long. “Every Friday you show up and there is a bouquet with your name on it,” says Amber. For those interested in learning how to make their own creations, Amber hosts on-farm workshops throughout the year ranging from field to vase, Easter centre piece workshops, winter outdoor arrangements and wreaths and many more.  

“I always knew I wanted to be on a farm,” says Amber. “When I was young, I took some 4-H projects that were related to etiquette and crafting and took a break from 4-H. Then in my first year of University at Guelph I ended up showing a heifer at College Royal and decided to rejoin 4-H. I joined the South Simcoe Beef Club and it was there that I met my husband. I couldn’t get my heifer broke and the 4-H leader sent him down to help me with my heifer. Now both our children participate in 4-H, everything from paintball club, sheep club, marketing club and the beef club.”

When asked about the impact 4-H has had on her as a farmpreneur, Amber said, “Every day I learn to do by doing. It’s a huge take home for me and something I practice every day here at Petals.”