My 4-H Beginning

Because the pages of our blog have so far been filled with stories from Alumni, Members and Volunteers, I thought it was time to get to know the 4-H Ontario staff. What better place to start than with the 4-H Ontario Executive Director, Wraychel Horne. Wraychel joined the 4-H Ontario staff team in 2011. Her dedication and passion to the program are second to none.

Being that it is spring time, which is the time of new beginnings, Wraychel decided to share her story about how she began with 4-H. Read on to hear Wraychel’s story. You can also learn more about Wraychel here >


My 4-H Beginning
By Wraychel Horne

Wraychel HorneMy 4-H beginning may not be as traditional as most, but, it is an honest moment that had a big impact in my life. It started when I was a very young child with a simple question. Although it did not begin under the happiest of circumstances, it was one of those moments that has been ingrained in my mind and it has truly helped shape who I am today.

My family roots are in rural PEI.  When I was less than four, my grandfather passed away.  My grandmother was tasked with making the selections for the grave marker that would commemorate both her husband’s life and her own, once the time came.

Visiting home the next year, I asked what the little flower with H’s on it, beside my grandmother’s name, was when we visited the cemetery.  As you can likely guess, it was the 4-H Clover.  My parents explained to me then that it was “Gran’s club about teaching”.

Over the years my relationship grew with my iconic matriarchal Grandmother and I came to learn the full impact of what 4-H meant to her life – sharing and learning, building friendships and community. My aunts all lead clubs.  One as a youth herself was selected to attend the National 4-H Membership Conference.  I watched my cousins prepare for meetings and shows over many summers back home.

My own career grew too – in youth development, community engagement, consulting and program planning.  I worked for not-for-profit organizations and in municipal government.  My family was always supportive but they did not always understand my work.  Now having joined the 4-H fold, it is a homecoming of sorts.  My family entirely relates to what I am doing.

Since starting with the staff team as 4-H Ontario’s Executive Director, I have had many “firsts”: Achievement nights, Regional Board meetings, Town Halls, starting a pen pal exchange with a Member, golf tournaments, CAM, teleconferences, fairs, National Member’s Conference, pins and hugs.  Even standing in the centre ring of the Royal.

Wraychel with Volunteers
Wraychel with Anne and Marion, two 4-H Ontario Volunteers

I profoundly feel like I have come full circle and I am so grateful.  I am able to use my skills to serve 4-H.  I feel at home thanks to the warm conversations with Volunteers, Members, Alumni and parents.  All thanks to my grandmother for beginning my love for 4-H.

A Discovery Days 4-H Story

4-H Ontario has a variety of camps and conferences that provide Members the opportunity to explore 4-H outside of their local association. From Discovery Days to the Sen$e Suite, there is an opportunity for every junior, intermediate and senior Member to explore.

4-H’r Paula Belliveau is a big fan of Discovery Days. Paula has been a 4-H Member for three years and has attended Discovery Days each year. She was kind enough to share her 2011 Discovery Days experience with us. Read on to learn Paula’s Discovery Days 4-H story.

Interested in attending Discovery Days this year? More information including dates, times and registration details, can be found here >


My Discovery Days Story
By Paula Belliveau

On Saturday May 21st, 4-H Discovery Days was held. This event is for children 9—13 and each 4-H Member can bring a buddy, The theme of 2011 was “Have a Ball”, and the event ran from 9a.m. to 3p.m. There were six stations in total. The stations that were included were: Dart board crafts, four class judging, volleyball ice breakers, bovine jeopardy, sports Go For The Gold, and paint ball. For lunch, the group enjoyed pepperoni or vegetarian pizza, chocolate of white milk, apples, and carrots.

Discovery Days Group Shot
2011 Discovery Days Region 4 South group shot

For the crafts section each team took turns making a dartboard. We used different floored pieces of felt to make different score sections and markers for designs. Instead of darts, the object thrown at the board would be a hallow golf ball with Velcro stuck on it. When the Members finished making their craft they would play with it until every one at the station was finished. Then they put their crafts in a bag that they would take home at the end of the day.

The next activity was judging. Here, there were four classes to be judged. The classes included activity balls, chocolate covered granola bars, pretzels and calculators. Each person would place each class, but only give reasons for two of them.

Judging at Discovery Days
Discovery Day participants judging pretzels

My favourite activity were the icebreakers. The first game we played was a memory game where you had to give your name, your hobbies, what county you were from, and what you favourite Clubs were. After every one had said something about themselves you had to choose someone and repeat what he or she said.

We then played volleyball. Each team had to keep their foot on the mat and pass the beach ball three times before hitting it over the net.

Of course like every other Discovery Days the Members also played Jeopardy. The categories included: 4-H is 4 You, Know You Cows, What Goes In, What Comes Out and more. Here, each team broke into two groups, and they had to face each other. Another traditional activity we played was Go For The Gold. The different modes were multiple choice, short answer, who, what, or where am I, and one on one. This year of course, was mainly about sports.

The special activity this year was paint ball. We learned what types of games you could play in paint ball such as capture the flag. Zombie village, World War 1, and much, much more. We then took turns shooting a rusty metal target named John, which had a orange smiley face on it. When every team had finished at each station, we all had a relay obstacle course. It had skipping with a hool-a-hoop, spinning around a pool noodle, and filling up a bucket with a sponge full of water. Then all the kids and Leaders came together for a photo and the day was over. Even though this was my last year for Discovery Days, next year I can look forward to new and different camps.

Paint ball at Discovery Days
After shot of “John” post paintball fun

Paula has been a 4-H Member for three years. She has completed 12 projects including Foods, Judging, Conservation, Scrapbooking, Horse, A Sporting Chance, and Toastmasters, just to name a few. 

Meet 4-H’r Nicole French

4-H offers a variety of Clubs to ensure every Member can get the most from their 4-H experience. From chocolate to chickens to gardening, there’s absolutely a 4-H Club for every Member to enjoy participating in.

In addition to learning the tangible Club skills, Members also learn a variety of transferable skills that will benefit them now and in the future. To provide a better idea of what a Member can learn in a 4-H Club, we had 4-H Member, Nicole French, share her 4-H story. After all, what better way to understand what 4-H means to its Members than hearing it from the Members themselves.

My 4-H Story
By Nicole French

Nicole FrenchOver my two years in 4-H I have learned many new things, made new friends and faced new challenges.  I have participated in over 10 Clubs.  Some of my favorite Clubs are the Garden Tractor Pulling Club, Maple Syrup, Sew Easy and the Dairy Club.

In the Fall, I was in the Grow A Large Vegetable Club. I was trying to grow a really big pumpkin.  We were given a seed from an 800 lb pumpkin.  We learned how to file down the seed and then plant it in some soil.  We then got to bring home our seed to look after and grow. This is where the fun begins.  I had to water it and keep it in a window with sunlight. When it got big enough, I had to transplant it into my garden.  Then came the next challenge…….bunny rabbits!  So I can control watering and weeding my pumpkin…..but how was I going to keep Mr. Bunny Rabbit out of my garden.  Well, my Oma brought me some chicken wire over to put around my pumpkin.  I also put out some stakes with pie plates on them.  I think the noise they make when the wind blows them, scares the bunny rabbit away.

I really like watching my pumpkin grow.  It gets bigger every day.  This is a good example of our Club motto, Learn To Do By Doing.  This is a really hands on Club, that requires me to stay focused and learn new things by trying different strategies.

I have also had some great help from my Leaders.  They have really made the Clubs fun and interesting.  They help answer many questions I have.  The Club Leaders have been a big part of my 4-H experience.

One thing I really like about 4-H is reciting the 4-H pledge at every meeting.

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 and my country.

This pledge helps me keep focused on what 4-H really means.  It reminds me to live a good life by staying focused on what I want to do.  The best part is I get to learn all of this by doing things.  That is the 4-H motto to Learn To Do By Doing.

When we have to say our pledge at the start of every meeting, some people may think, “Oh we have to say that silly pledge again?”  But for me it reminds me to think positive, help others, stay healthy and overall, be nice to everyone I meet.  I will take my 4-H experience with me wherever I go and remind people that no matter what you think you know, you can always learn more.  That is what 4-H has shown me.

I encourage everyone to give 4-H a chance to try new things and make new friends. When you say 4-H the first thing that pops into my mind is an awesome, fun and active experience.  I’ve invited my friends to come and experience 4-H. I love 4-H and everything that I am learning.  It is helping me to become a better person with a wide range of skills.

Nicole French is a 4-H Member from Region 4. She has been in 4-H for two years and has already completed an amazing 13 projects! Nicole has also taken on many executive positions in her Clubs including Club President, News Reporter and Treasurer.