Brian O’Neill: The “Go-To-Guy”

It’s time to meet our third and final Syngenta 4-H Ontario Arbor Award recipient, Brian O’Neill. 4-H is one of Brian’s true passions in life and it certainly shows. He works tirelessly to ensure every one of his 4-H’rs has the best experience possible. You will be absolutely amazed by his passion and dedication for 4-H. Without further ado . . .

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Brian O’Neill: The “Go-To-Guy”

Brian O’Neill is a quiet hardworking dedicated 4-H Leader who truly loves the Members he works with and the 4-H program itself. Brian was a 4-H Member for seven years and he’s been volunteering with 4-H Ontario for the past 21 years.

4-H is one of Brian’s passions and he lives the 4-H Motto and it’s principles each and every day. Brian has devoted countless hours to the organization. He’s led multiple livestock Clubs and is well known in his community for going above and beyond to enable every Member to participate in Clubs and shows. He is often found in spring time spending all his extra time finding calves for each 4-H’r to show.

Brian with Members

Brian with 4-H Members

Brian has also taken on numerous Grey 4-H Association executive Volunteer positions including Association Representative, Director, President and Vice President. Within his Association, he is known as the go-to-guy for any information, assistance or guidance related to 4-H. He is positive and productive and wants everyone to benefit from the program.

In addition to his role in the Grey Association, Brian is also involved in numerous committees. His committee work is mainly focused on 4-H Dairy shows and his efforts have been instrumental in providing Members the opportunity to formally utilize their showmanship skills. In the past, he was a volunteer coach for curling and t-ball as well.

His love for the 4-H program and his passion for helping youth grow into confident citizens continues to be the driving force behind his hours of dedication and hard work. “Being able to see young members blossom and continue to grow knowing that 4-H and your encouragement has got them where they are really makes the volunteer experience,” shared Brian.

“Being able to see young members blossom and continue to grow knowing that 4-H and your encouragement has got them where they are really makes the volunteer experience,” shared Brian.

When Brian is not volunteering he can be found spending time with his wife Shelley, his two children, and his grandsons. Like Deborah Brown, Brian also has 4-H Ontario to thank for meeting his wife; they met at a dairy competition and they have been together for 30 years.

Brian with his family

Brian with his family

All of Brian’s volunteer contributions are done without wanting or needing accolades. As a Member, the 4-H program touched his life and he wants to provide youth with the same opportunities he had. “Volunteering is an opportunity to pay back to an organization that I got a lot out of,” he explains.

“Volunteering is an opportunity to pay back to an organization that I got a lot out of,” he explains.

Brian is a true inspiration. His Members, Association and the whole of 4-H Ontario are grateful for his altruistic nature.

Meet Anne Marie Werry

As promised, here is your virtual introduction to Anne Marie Werry. This 4-H’r is a multi-tasking and organization guru. I don’t know how she manages to fit everything in her day! Seems to be a common theme for our Syngenta 4-H Ontario Arbor Award winners…

Next week we’ll meet Brian O’Neill. _____________________________________________________________________________

Anne Marie Werry: The Multi-Tasking Guru

Anne Marie Werry’s 4-H journey began when she was 12 years old. Like Deborah, and many other 4-H’rs, Anne Marie joined 4-H as soon as she could. For Anne Marie, 4-H was a family affair. Her parents, their siblings, and her siblings, had all been involved in 4-H and she was excited to join this family loved organization.

Upon joining 4-H, Anne Marie became a very active 4-H Member in the Victoria area where she participated in over 18 Clubs. She participated in a wide variety of life skills Clubs, as well as dairy Clubs. Anne Marie’s life skills Club experiences had a tremendous impact on her. “I had the greatest Leaders. My homemaking Leaders were the coolest ladies and we did so many things together,” said Anne Marie. Anne Marie learned many valuable skills in her homemaking Clubs that she still references today.

1975 Provincial Leadership Camp

Anne Marie at Provincial Leadership Camp in 1975

Her desire to give back to 4-H Ontario led her directly into volunteering after her Member tenure was completed. “4-H always encouraged you to give back. You get so much out of the program so why would you not give back and share you knowledge?” notes Anne Marie.

“4-H always encouraged you to give back. You get so much out of the program so why would you not give back and share you knowledge?” notes Anne Marie.

Anne Marie began the process of giving back by leading a 4-H Heritage Club. In the spirit of “Learn To Do By Doing”, she of course learned a thing or two about her family history in the process of running the Club. “It’s a neat way of learning how to search your history and make a family tree.”

When Anne Marie married, she decided to take a break from volunteering to focus on her family. Because volunteering was such a large component of Anne Marie’s life, she couldn’t stay away for too long and she continued her volunteer career as soon as she was able to sneak away some time for herself. “Volunteering is a real social thing for me and I love what I do,” she said.

Anne Marie and her son

Anne Marie with her son, Dan

Today, Anne Marie has been volunteering with 4-H Ontario for 12 years. She’s lead dairy, veterinary science and dance Clubs. Anne Marie is also an active member of many other community organizations including the Brooklin Agriculture Society, the Catholic Women’s League, Kedron Park Association and the Lindsay Fair, just to name a few. “4-H and fair organizing has always been in my blood,” she jokes.

Anne Marie’s contributions to her community are definitely appreciated and do not go unnoticed. On top of winning the Syngenta 4-H Ontario Arbor Award, in December she also received a Maple Leaf Service Pin from her church, St. Joseph the Worker.

When asked why she chooses to devote so much of her time to volunteering, she simply says that she likes helping others. “I feel good doing something for other people. It just makes your life so much richer when you can be a part of so many different people’s lives.” When she is not volunteering, Anne Marie can be found supply teaching for the Durham Catholic School board, helping out on the her family farm, working out at her local gym, and spending time with friends and family including her husband Eldon and three amazing children; Maria, Sarah, and Dan.

“I feel good doing something for other people. It just makes your life so much richer when you can be a part of so many different people’s lives.”

Anne Marie is a 4-H success story, living legend, and inspiration to everyone. 4-H Ontario is lucky to have her as a Volunteer.

Introducing the 2012 Syngenta 4-H Ontario Arbor Award Recipients

Volunteers are the heart of the 4-H program. The knowledge, skills, time and dedication they bring to the table is truly amazing. It’s absolutely safe to say that the 4-H program would not be what it is today without the many sensational Volunteers who pledge their Head, Heart, Hands and Health to better youth in their communities.

Because 4-H Volunteers are a vital component of the success of the 4-H program, Volunteer recognition is of utmost importance. 4-H Ontario’s most prestigious Volunteer recognition piece is the Syngenta 4-H Ontario Arbor Award. The Syngenta 4-H Ontario Arbor Award recognizes a select few 4-H Ontario Volunteers who have served the organization for over ten years and have positively impacted both 4-H in Ontario and their local community. You can read more about the award here >

This year, 4-H Ontario is pleased to announce Deborah Brown, Brian O’Neill and Anne Marie Werry as the 2012 recipients. Over the next few weeks I’d like to introduce you to each one of these outstanding Volunteers. Their volunteer efforts are second to none. I have no doubt that you will be floored by their philanthropic nature and 4-H dedication.

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Deborah Brown: The “Jill of all Trades”

Deborah Brown (Blaine) 1968

Deborah, far left, receiving the Ontario Milk Producers Coordinating Board Trophy in 1968. This is one of the highlights of her 4-H career.

Deborah Brown joined 4-H in 1965 at the age of 12. At this point, Members had to be 12 years old to participate and Deborah joined as soon as she could. Deborah had a strong interest in cattle, which matched well with the 4-H program. In her community, 4-H was also the “hip and happening” social club so Deborah couldn’t wait to join this exciting group.

As a Member, Deborah participated in various livestock and homemaking Clubs and quickly became an avid 4-H’r. After completing her Member tenure the local Women’s Institute asked Deborah to lead a homemaking Club. “I really enjoyed the 4-H program and I wanted to remain involved so it was perfect that they asked me to lead a Club,” explained Deborah.

From then on, Deborah was hooked on leading 4-H Clubs. Amongst friends and fellow Volunteers, Deborah has become known as the “Jill of all Trades” and it is definitely for good reason. Deborah has been volunteering with 4-H Ontario for over 40 years and she’s lead over 100 Clubs! If that doesn’t shock you enough, than this certainly will; Deborah has led a Club from almost every 4-H Club category. From Agriculture to Personal Development, this 4-H’r has done it all! To top it all off, she’s also held many Executive Volunteer positions and she had a huge hand in writing past 4-H Ontario sewing project resources.

Deborah’s love for the 4-H program and her passion for helping youth grow into confident citizens continues to be the driving force behind her hours of dedication and hard work. “I really do believe in the program,” said Deborah. “There is no other organization that teaches kids these life skills and I love that I can learn to do by doing as well.”

“I really do believe in the program,” said Deborah. “There is no other organization that teaches kids these life skills and I love that I can learn to do by doing as well.”

When she is not working on a 4-H project, Deborah loves spending time with her husband whom she met in 4-H, her five children and 11 grand children (who have also all been involved in the 4-H program). She also works on a dairy farm; runs her own business where she sells cheeses, collectables and home made crafts; assists her daughter with managing five greenhouses; and she’s an active member of her local church and the South Mountain Fair Board. One word, WOW.

Of course, Deborah does not plan on slowing down anytime soon. “As long as there’s kids to participate in 4-H, I’ll be involved in 4-H as well.” Needless to say, Deborah is one very busy 4-H’r. It’s amazing how she finds the time to lead anywhere from three to six Clubs per year and still manage the many other “trades” in her life. 4-H is lucky to have a Volunteer like Deborah.

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I told you you’d be floored by her generosity! I’m just wondering when she has time to sleep or eat. Congratulations and thank you Deborah for making the 4-H program what it is today.

I hope you enjoyed your virtual introduction to Deborah! Up next week is Anne Marie Werry.