Growing Up in 4-H

Hi everyone! I’m going to take this golden opportunity to introduce myself to you all, my name is Danielle and I am the new Summer Communications Assistant for 4-H Ontario AND the newest blogger for 4-H Folklore! I look forward to sharing the awesome stories of 4-H’rs all over Ontario with you. For my first post I’d like to share the story of the person who inspired me to join the 4-H team, my friend Heather Hargrave. Heather has been involved in 4-H, one way or another, for most of her life. Her family owns an angus cattle farm in Maxwell, Ontario which is how she got started showing cattle. From Dundalk Agricultural Junior Calf Club to becoming a 4-H Leader, read on as Heather shares her 4-H experiences and how 4-H helped her get where she is today.

Growing Up in 4-H
By Heather Hargrave

Heather HargraveI got my first taste of 4-H before I was old enough to join the program.  My Dad and Uncle had been active in 4-H and showing cattle at fairs across Ontario, so they encouraged my brothers and I to participate in the Dundalk Agricultural Junior Calf Program at the local Fall Fair; a club for kids who thought they might join 4-H someday. My brothers and I then joined 4-H once we were old enough. The initial reason behind my joining the Dundalk Agriculture Junior Calf Program and 4-H was the responsibility of taking care of an animal, though I also enjoyed going to the fairs and competing.  I can still to this day remember the name of every animal that I looked after for the Dundalk Agricultural Junior Calf Program and 4-H projects – all 16 of them.

It was nice to have friends that didn’t think I was crazy for getting up at 4 a.m. on a weekend to go to a fair

When I first started in 4-H, the part that I loved most was competing; I liked finishing first whether it was with my calf or in a showmanship class.  As I got older the program became more about the people that were in it; it was nice to have a group of friends in my area, as well as other areas of the province, that had the same interests that I did and didn’t think I was crazy for getting up at 4 a.m. on a weekend to go to a fair.

Heather Hargrave with cow Barbara in 1997
Heather Hargrave at a competition with cow Barbara in 1997

A lot of other good memories happened because of 4-H as well. Growing up, most of our family vacations and weekends in the summer and fall revolved around 4-H shows and showing cattle. Because of this, I’m really close with my two brothers.  We travelled all across Canada together and experienced the wins and the losses together.

There are a lot of skills and lessons I’ve learned from my 4-H experience that I still use today. The judging skills I acquired through 4-H, help me make decisions, formulate reasons why I made that decision, and justify my choices. 4-H also builds leaders and teaches its Members about leadership.  Having the confidence and the skills necessary to take on new challenges is a huge part of personal and professional development.  I find the opportunities and experiences I had in 4-H have given me the confidence to continue to push myself and try new things both personally and in my job.

Heather Hargrave with cow "Roxy" in 2005
Heather Hargrave with cow Roxy in 2005

Today, I’m the Program Coordinator for Farm & Food Care Ontario , a not-for-profit organization that provides information about food and farming. After highschool, when I was trying to decide what to study and which university to attend, my 4-H experience played a big role in my decision making process. The life long passion I have for agriculture which started because of 4-H, lead to me choose to study Agricultural Business at the University of Guelph.  I was hoping to find a career in the industry once I graduated, and that’s just what I did. I’m sure my involvement with 4-H helped me land a job with an organization that I believe is providing a great service to the agriculture industry.

I’ve remained involved with 4-H by becoming a 4-H Leader.  I had been a 4-H Alumnus for two months before I was approached to help lead a Beef Club in Wellington Association.  I really enjoy teaching the kids about different facets of the industry and helping them achieve their goals.  It’s really rewarding for me, as a Leader, to see how much personal growth each Member achieves over the course of the 4-H Club, and to see them succeed in other activities and parts of their lives.  That’s truly what 4-H is all about – growing future leaders.


Share Your 4-H Story4-H Ontario’s Alumni program is funded through a Promotional Partnership with Hyland Seeds, including the position of 4-H Ontario’s Coordinator, Alumni Services. Hyland Seeds is passionate about agriculture and believes in supporting the people who are deeply rooted in the agricultural industry; dedication to 4-H is proof of this commitment. Thank you Hyland Seeds!

A Sen$ational Time

Have you heard about Career Sen$e? Career Sen$e is a conference for youth ages 14−18 that’s about teaching youth the skills they need to secure their dream job. Even if they’re not quite sure what their dream job is yet. I was definitely not one of those lucky few who always knew what I wanted to do, but 4-H Member Derek VanDeWalle was. That being said, Career Sen$e may have changed his mind. He graciously shared his 4-H Career Sen$e story with us, and it’s a fabulous way to learn about this conference straight from the horse’s mouth. You can also visit the 4-H Ontario website for more info.

As a head’s up, there is only one week left to register for this conference so make sure to act quickly. The registration deadline is Friday, June 22.


A Sen$ational Time
By Derek VanDeWalle

Derek VanDeWalleWho knows what they want to do for the rest of their life at the age of 15? As crazy as it sounds, I did (or at least thought I did). Still, when a friend asked if I wanted to go with him to this conference called “Career Sen$e”, I couldn’t help but say “sure, why not?” I wanted to be a vet and someday attend the University of Guelph − the location of the conference! I thought I’d take this opportunity to see what campus was like while, at the same time, spend some time with my friends who I rarely see throughout the year. So a couple of month later, we made our way to Guelph, unsure of what to really expect. We read all the information sheets and I have to admit, it sounded like careers class − which was another word for boring for me. But, when the GPS told us we had “reach our destination” we got out with three nights worth of luggage and registered with the adult volunteers who were helping with the program. I looked around where we and over 30 youth were sitting, not knowing a soul with the exception of the two guys beside me.

I got to know more people in an hour than I did in the past six months!

Boy did that sure change! After just a few icebreakers, I got to know more people in an hour than I did in the past six months! During fun games, delicious meals, and the group sessions, everyone got to know one another, whether you meant to or not.

Career Sense Group Shot
2011 Career Sen$e delegates

It wasn’t all about the other people though. Through a wide variety of sessions including resume and cover letter writing, selling your assets, public speaking, goal setting, interview practice and especially the “True Colours: exercise, we got to learn more about ourselves such as our strengths, weaknesses, likes, dislikes, and much more which gave us knowledge about what we will be like in the working world.

Career Sen$e was no doubt the highlight of my summer.

Career Sen$e was no doubt the highlight of my summer. First of all, I got the tour of campus which I was waiting for, but also, this four day camp/conference taught us so much about the working world. Everyday we had speakers and presenters come in to talk with us about different subjects including resume writing, interview tips, and the differences between university, college and apprenticeship programs. These presenters were full of energy and made learning entertaining by including group workshops and interesting information.They even had us learning about agriculture while running around campus in the “Agmazing Career Race” where we got split up into several groups for a scavenger hunt. At the end of each day, we also got downtime where we watched movies, played cards, or whatever we wanted to do before heading off to our dorm rooms for the night.

Career Sense Presentation
Derek, third from the left, and fellow delegates learn about the right career for them in a silly and fun way

So if you’re in between the ages of 14−18 and you need something to do this summer, check out Career Sen$e. Even if you’re like me and think you know your career path, take, or better yet, make a friend at the conference. You’ll have knowledge, friends, and memories to last a lifetime and at the same time, be one step ahead of the guy sleeping next to you in careers class.

Derek VanDeWalle has been a 4-H Member for five years. He’s completed six projects including Dairy and Community Involvement.

A Northern Adventure

Linda Klages was the lucky winner of the Second Prize of “Dinner for two anywhere in Canada” in the 2011 4-H Ontario Dream Dinner Lottery. She and her husband, Robert chose to go to the Yukon. Thanks Linda for sharing your favourite moments and some great photos too! Check out their story below.

What is your history with 4-H?
Both of our fathers led 4-H clubs. We were both members and both of us have led clubs. Robert was a 4-H dairy leader for many years in Neustadt. Our three children have also all been in our local 4-H calf club. Robert currently looks after the 4-H Invitational dairy show at the Neustadt Fall Fair.

Where did you go for your Dream “Dinner for two anywhere in Canada”?
We had dinner at the Klondike Rib & Salmon BBQ in Whitehorse, Yukon. This “building” is a tent in the same spot that a restaurant in a tent was during the gold rush. Robert had elk and I had Salmon along with a locally brewed beverage. This was the best meal of the trip.

Dinner Venue
Robert in front of the Klondike Rob and Salmon

“The locals start lining up at 4 p.m. to be sure to get a seat. The food was very good. The rafters were full of tools and instruments used in the gold rush.”

Why did you choose the Yukon?
We were choosing between the Yukon and Newfoundland for our trip and knew we wouldn’t have to worry about hurricanes if we went north west!

The Yukon
A spectacular view in the Yukon

How long did you go for?
We left in late August and were gone for 12 days. We flew from Toronto to Calgary and then on to Whitehorse.

Black Bear
Black Bear encounter

“The biggest animal we saw was a black bear on the road while driving. By the end of the week all the trees had turned yellow. The red on the mountains is lichen or bushes – lots of rose bushes with huge rose hips (great bear food).”

What was your favourite part of the trip?
It was a wonderful trip. We had a number of favourite parts of our trip. In Whitehorse the salmon were spawning on the Yukon River and they have the largest wooden fish ladder in the world – 400 yds (366 metres) long. It lets the fish bypass the power dam. They have a window that shows you what are going through the ladder and actually do a count of all the species going through and whether they are stocked fish or wild fish. We also took the White Pass Yukon Rail train from Carcross thru B.C. to Skagway Alaska and back (see picture below). The train goes along the trail that the goldminers would have gone on the Chilkoot Trail in 1898. The scenery is breathtaking.

White Pass Yukon Rail Train trip

“The view down was bordering on breathtaking to just downright scary!”

We rented a car and went as far north as Dawson City. We had a walking tour of the town and visited Dredge #4. The dredge is what leaves the mounds of ground leftover from searching for gold. We also went to the site of the original gold strike – it’s owned by Parks Canada.

Linda panning for gold

“Everyone is welcome to pan for gold on the Bonanza Creek. It’s actually been mined several times by several different methods so no we didn’t find any gold.”

Meet Andrew: A 4-H Adventurer

Andrew Chechalk is a 4-H Ontario Member who will be embarking on a great adventure this summer! He’s traveling to South Korea through the W. Garfield Weston Foundation 4-H International Exchange. Andrew graciously offered to share his 4-H exchange story on 4-H Folklore. Before Andrew goes on this incredible journey, he wanted to introduce himself to the Folklore readers and share a little bit of his personal 4-H story. Read on to learn more about Andrew, and look for his W. Garfield Weston Foundation 4-H International Exchange blog post this August.

My name is Andrew Chechalk and I am one of this year’s delegates selected to travel with the W. Garfield Weston Foundation 4-H International Exchange. I have been asked to write about my time in South Korea and thought I would introduce myself first.

Andrew Chechalk
Andrew Chechalk, a Niagara 4-H Member

I have been a Member of Niagara 4-H for 10 years now and have completed 56 Clubs, everything from cooking, sewing, knitting, ploughing to goat, sheep and beef. I always say to my friends I could survive so well as someone from 1800′s with the skills I have learned. I have won many awards from the Ontario Ploughmans Award for Top Agriculture Member to the Top Showman in Niagara (twice once for each of my brothers, who never won it). Outside of 4-H I am currently at Lakehead University in my second year studying Business with a major in Accounting.

My entire family is part of 4-H Niagara in some sort. My father is the President, my mom is a 25 year Volunteer, both of my brothers have graduated and are now Leaders and my little sister is in her third year of 4-H. People always tell my mother that her house is so fun and crazy because of how often we are doing 4-H activities.

Andrew and family
Andrew and his family. From left to right is Jon, Josh, Andrew, Ann Marie, Mike and Katie Chechalk.

Of all things I have done in 4-H, the W. Garfield Weston Foundation 4-H International Exchange will truly be the crowning moment. I was selected as one of a few lucky Members across Canada to travel to different parts of the world. I am really looking forward to this trip and I will be jetting off on July 3rd, 2012!

A 4-H Story of Life-Long Friendship

When I ask 4-H’rs what their favourite thing about 4-H is, time and time again, I get the response that it’s the friendships they’ve made. There are many life-long friendships that evolve from the kitchen tables of local Club leaders and at the provincial 4-H camps and conferences. I’d like to take the time to share with you one of the many stories of life-long friendship that has began with a 4-H event; the story of Lynda and Eleanor and their 55 years of friendship. This is a truly amazing story so I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed sharing it.


As Lynda Shaw so perfectly put it, her and Eleanor Lennox’s story is “really a story of life long friendship.” Lynda and Eleanor met through 4-H more than 55 years ago and their chance encounter blossomed in to a beautiful friendship that has been a cornerstone in their lives.

Lynda and Eleanor
Eleanor, left, and Lynda, right, celebrating 55 years of friendship at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair

Growing up, both Lynda and Eleanor’s families were involved in the sheep industry. The families’ agricultural background led the girls to join 4-H where they took to showing and fell in love with the 4-H program. The girls lived in separate towns, Lynda was from Glencoe and Eleanor was from Ilderton, but fortunately for them, their paths crossed one summer day at the Middlesex 4-H Show. The girls were briefly introduced at this time, and they decided to travel to the Royal Agricultural Fair together in November. This encounter marked the beginning of their life long friendship.

November came quickly and the girls were all set for their trip to the Royal. Lynda and her cousin, Mary Kathryn, met Eleanor on the train in Glencoe and their journey began. For three young girls who were only 15 years old, this expedition was quite the adventure! It was the first time both Eleanor and Lynda had gone in to the city without their parents and they were both nervous and eager. “It was wonderful and quite exciting because we were the girls from the farm,” shares Lynda.

When the train arrived in Toronto, the girls departed at Sunny Side and headed to the Exhibition ground. They were guided by a 4-H Leader to the residence they would occupy for the next few days.

The Royal activities began with showing their steers on the Thursday. This was an incredible experience for both Lynda and Eleanor. “There were over 300 members who had steers in the Queens Guineas class,” shares Lynda. She goes on to explain how each Member proudly wore an all white 4-H showmanship uniform, which included a white knit sweater with the 4-H emblem sewn on in 4-H green. “You walked in to the room and saw a sea of sparkling white wool sweaters; it was truly unbelievable.”

“You walked in to the room and saw a sea of sparkling white wool sweaters; it was truly unbelievable.”

After showing their animals, Lynda, Eleanor and Mary Katherine spent Friday exploring downtown Toronto during the day, and attending a 4-H organized dance at night. Their final day at the Royal was spent watching international show jumping. “Lynda loved horses and she introduced me to international jumping,” said Eleanor. This was one of Eleanor’s first experiences with horse jumping and she was awe struck by the sport.

By the end of their three day journey, the roots of Eleanor and Lynda’s friendship had been securely planted. Sharing this unique experience at the Royal together built a strong foundation for a friendship that has been instrumental in both of their lives. Eleanor and Lynda spent the next two years going to show at the Queen’s Guineas together, and they also saw each other at the Middlesex 4-H Show.

When their time came to graduate from high school they decided to room together at University. The pair attended Teacher’s College together after Lynda convinced Eleanor to join her on this next incredible journey, and they continued to live together until Lynda moved out to be married. They were bridesmaids in one another’s weddings, and even after Eleanor moved away from Middlesex to Toronto, they remained best friends seeing each other every year on their birthdays, which are just two days apart.

Now, 55 years later, their friendship is as strong as ever. “My relationship with Lynda means the world to me,” shares Eleanor. To celebrate their friendship, every five years, Eleanor and Lynda get together to embark on a new adventure. Last fall, the two went back to where it all started, the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. “The Royal is very special to both of us,” said Lynda. This was the first time since their 4-H days that Lynda and Eleanor had ventured to the Royal together. This trip flooded back fond memories and reminded them of the amazing time they had together that first November that they became friends.

“My relationship with Lynda means the world to me,” shares Eleanor.

“Life just would not be at all the same without her in my life,” notes Lynda. “We’ve remained best friends, we don’t have a bad word to say to each other. Our friendship is just totally special. You can get by in life without a lot of things but you can’t get by without your friends.”

Congratulations to 55 years of amazing friendship, Lynda and Eleanor.


Share Your 4-H Story4-H Ontario’s Alumni program is funded through a Promotional Partnership with Hyland Seeds, including the position of 4-H Ontario’s Coordinator, Alumni Services. Hyland Seeds is passionate about agriculture and believes in supporting the people who are deeply rooted in the agricultural industry; dedication to 4-H is proof of this commitment. Thank you Hyland Seeds!