A Leader and Life-Long Believer

Shirley King, of Lindsay, Ontario, has a lifetime of dedication to 4-H. Shirley was a Volunteer for 45 years and lead 87 Club projects. An amazing feat of contribution. Throughout her 4-H career, before retiring from volunteering in 2005, she started several new 4-H Clubs and assisted with or lead many others. The love of 4-H runs in the family. Shirley’s three daughters and four grand daughters also participated in 4-H. Below is a bit about Shirley’s lifetime commitment to 4-H.


Shirley got started in 4-H in 1966 when her eldest daughter turned of age to become a Member. Since her daughter was joining 4-H, she decided to Volunteer so she could help out and be involved. Shirley assisted with the Whitby 4-H Club under Leader Doris Grills from 1966 until the end of 1967. She then started a Club in Ajax and commuted from Whitby to host the Club meetings. She led the Ajax 4-H Club until 1974, at which point her family moved to a farm within the Kawartha Lakes-Haliburton 4-H Association. By that time she had two daughters in 4-H who joined the local Grasshill Clubs. She led or assisted with these Clubs until 1982 before starting another Club in Downeyville. She led the Downeyville 4-H Club until 1988 when her family moved for a second time to a Cambray, Ontario. Cambray is where she started in 4-H for a third time.

Shirley has two reasons for staying involved in 4-H for so long; “I did it for my girls – both daughters and grand daughters – and because I truly believe in the 4-H program,” she explains. “I didn’t plan on leading all the time. “We’d move into an area and my girls would join the local 4-H Clubs and then those Leaders would find out I was a Leader before and ask me get involved again. So I would.”  Perhaps her continuous involvement and passion for 4-H is why Shirley’s daughters were so successful in their Clubs. “All three of my girls had Advanced Honors in 4-H,” she shares. Advanced Honors are presented to 4-H Members who have completed 18 or more Club projects. Shirley’s grand daughters completed many Club projects during their Member tenure as well and her eldest daughter is also a Leader and has followed in her mother’s footsteps by starting her own Club in Oshawa.

I did it for my girls and because I truly believe in the 4-H program

“I mainly ran lifeskills Clubs,” Shirley says of being a Leader, “though occasionally there would be a sports-related Club that I would lead or help out with”.  The Clubs were always busy with roughly 15 to 30 Members participating in each; the sports Clubs often reaching as high as 35 kids. “Those times I was glad to have the help of other Leaders or Volunteers,” Shirley shares.

The Club that stands out the most in her mind is the Sewing Club she led in Ajax. She had the help of another Volunteer who was a seamstress and together they and the Members put on a fashion show, which was broadcast on cable TV. “It was a lot of fun creating the outfits and decorating the stage,” she says. Shirley also enjoyed the four or five day camping trips she would take with the Club Members, and decorating floats for parades as part of their projects. She was also lucky to have a husband who liked to help out with 4-H as well. “He would come along on the camping trips or help build the floats for the parades or the stage for our fashion shows – he was very handy to have around,” Shirley explains.

“I have so many good memories,” she says of her overall 4-H experience. “When leading the Clubs I learned as much as the kids did.” Many 4-H Leaders or Volunteers are part of 4-H because they know how influential it can be in a child’s development. When Shirley describes what 4-H means to her, she says simply,  “It was my life.”  Thank you to Shirley, a true believer in 4-H, for her lifetime of dedication to developing skills in the youth of the various communities she lived in.


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!

Canadian 4-H Annual General Meeting in St. John’s

Valerie Stone is the 2012/2013 Canadian 4-H Council Youth Advisory Committee – Ontario Representative. In this position, Valeria brings the views and issues of Ontario 4-H youth to the Canadian 4-H Council Youth Advisory Committee discussions. As part of her role, this year Valerie attended the Canadian 4-H Annual General Meeting (AGM) in St. John’s, Newfoundland. Valerie had a fantastic time at the AGM and connecting with 4-H’rs and 4-H supporters from across the country. Read on for Valerie’s experience at the AGM.

Canadian 4-H Annual General Meeting in St. John’s, Newfoundland
By Valerie Stone

Calling all passengers to board Air Canada flight 654 to St. John’s, Newfoundland! We’re off to the Canadian 4-H Council Annual General Meeting (AGM). As the incoming 4-H Canada Youth Advisory Committee member from Ontario, this was my first 4-H Canada AGM.  The most welcoming thing when you get off the plane is the 4-H Volunteers with smiling faces holding that familiar logo above their heads. Instantly they greeted us, assisted us with picking up our bags, and loaded us into the van. While it was grey skies outside, inside was filled with warmth and excitement with our nation’s 4-H Annual General Meeting about to commence.

Back row: Breanne Durle (Alberta), Michael Melnychuk (Manitoba), Savannah Cheney (Saskatchewan), Kim Hooey (Ontario-Outgoing), Charles Gascon (Quebec), Kirsten Bevandick ( British Columbia), Jacob Works ( Nova Scotia) Front row: Sonya Loder (Newfoundland and Labrador), Heidi Pickard ( New Brunswick), Valerie Stone (Ontario-Incoming), Gary Skogberg (The Co-operators), and Matthew Tweedy (Prince Edward Island)

It started off by meeting each province`s Youth Advisory Committee member and getting to know one another.  Being able to put a face to a name, and voice you have heard on teleconferences, was just the start of people I met throughout the AGM. The next morning 4-H Canada held a welcome orientation breakfast for all delegates who had never attended a 4-H Canada AGM. By 7 a.m. the networking had begun. Mike Nowosad, CEO of 4-H Canada, and Rob Black, President of the Canadian 4-H Council, had sponsors, YAC members, and provincial representatives all acquainted. By the end of the networking sessions anyone attending the AGM knew you by your face and not your name tag.

During the Canadian 4-H Council AGM the Youth Advisory Committee did a presentation on a topic that has resulted in a fair amount of discussion over the past few months: Future Leaders. We, the Youth Advisory Committee, took a position about how the Future Leaders program could work and created and delivered a presentation that covered the following areas: (1) a purpose to standardize age range, (2) engage senior Members, (3) develop member skills, (4) increase membership and keep Members involved in 4-H.  Our presentation allowed the other delegates attending the AGM to hear about how this program could work and it opened the door to more networking throughout the conference.

Over the next few days I talked to many representatives from organizations that sponsor 4-H including John Deere, Farm Credit Canada, The Co-operators, Enbridge, and Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show, just to name a few. I also got the opportunity to speak with past presidents of the Canadian 4-H Council and Council members from other provinces. I was able to learn about how different 4-H is across Canada, but also, how we are all connected; the 4-H logo is the piece that brings us all together. These individuals also gave us a lot of feedback on our presentation. This feedback was really valuable and the Youth Advisory Committee held a meeting to incorporate the feedback and submit this document alongside our presentation to all the provincial offices.

At the Annual Meeting banquet we witnessed thirteen 4-H delegates receive a Queen`s Jubilee Medal for their contributions to 4-H throughout Canada. It was very rewarding to be able to be acquainted with such an amazing room of people.

That matching logo! The connecting part between each Member’s head, heart, health and hands from the East coast waters, above mountains, through the Prairies, across fields, by parliament hill, around the Maritimes and to the West coast waters. The 4-H Canada logo connects each and every one of us who is a part of 4-H. It is the same grass roots across Canada.

Kim, Valerie and Marianne
Kim Hooey, Marianne Fallis (4-H Ontario Senior Manager, Programming) and Valerie Stone

As I return back to Ontario I am excited for the future of 4-H in our own province, as well as across Canada. I would like to thank Kim Hooey for attending the 4-H Canada AGM as outgoing YAC member from Ontario, the Ontario 4-H Council for providing me the opportunity to attend the 4-H Canada AGM, and Gary Skogberg from The Co-Operators for their sponsorship of the Youth Advisory Committee.

I look forward to being the Youth Advisory Committee member from Ontario over the next few years and I hope to see all of you in September at Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show! The Youth Advisory Committee will be in attendance over the three days to kick off 4-H Canada’s “100 for 100″ fundraising campaign.

Dairy Sen$e

This year marked the third anniversary for 4-H Ontario’s Dairy Sen$e conference. With a full roster, the 2012 Dairy Sen$e conference was another great success. Delegates from across Ontario came out to learn about the business management side of farming from the experts themselves. Guest speakers for this year included: Dairy Farmer’s of Ontario Assistant Director of Communications and Planning, Bill Mitchell; Chris Buchner of Elmwold Farm Ltd.; Kim McKenzie from TD Canada Trust, Meaghan Holley and Elizabeth Strubbs from AgCareers.com; Bill West from CanWest DHI; and David Rose from CIBC. While I could go on and on about the conference highlights, it’s definitely better to hear it from a delegate themselves. Thankfully, delegate Brett Shantz was kind enough the share his Dairy Sen$e experience with 4-H Folklore. Check it out below.

My Dairy Sen$e Experience
By Brett Shantz

My name is Brett Shantz and this year I got the opportunity to attend the Dairy Sen$e program coordinated by 4-H Ontario and Holstein Ontario. Dairy Sen$e is a three day conference held at the University of Guelph. I didn’t know much about the program until my 4-H Leader mentioned it to me and encouraged me to sign up for it, and I’m happy I did.  Dairy Sen$e gives you a lot of information about the whole business side of dairy farming. Along with meeting many great people who are as interested in dairy farming as myself, you get to visit a couple different successful farms and hear some great presentations.

Dairy Sen$e delegate jackets
Dairy Sen$e delegate rocking their jacket

All the business knowledge I gained made my choice of doing the conference very much worth it. As a young person who is interested in cows and equipment, I’ve known for a while that all I want to do is farm. However, the thought of running a multimillion dollar operation has always kind of made me nervous, because I know that simple mistakes can be very costly and it takes a good manager to run a successful farm. Throughout the weekend we were given breakdowns of many financial terms, we covered a lot of current dairy farming problems along with their solutions, and we were shown that along with the help of veterinarians, nutritionists, bankers and accountants, management of a dairy farm can be much simpler than I thought.

Dairy Sen$e Industry Tours
Industry tours are one of the highlights of Dairy Sen$e

We traveled to Summithholm Farms and met with Ben Loewith, who was more than willing to give us a tip or two on his management style. He was very friendly with the group and open to answering any questions we had. Later that afternoon we attended Bridgeveiw Farms where the Coleman’s gave us insight on how management is done there. Having the chance to connect with these two exceptional farm managers was one I am very glad to have had.

Dairy Sen$e Delegates
Delegate group shot

At the end of the conference we were divided into groups of five and were given the financial breakdown of a farm. We had to examine all the farm’s spending and incomes, and give recommendations for areas where they had been struggling. The groups then presented to a panel of judges on Saturday morning. Fortunately, my group was the winning group, and we have the privilege of attending the World Dairy Expo this coming fall; this is an opportunity that I am very excited about. All in all, it was a great weekend conference, and given the chance, I would do it all over again. I fully recommend Dairy Sen$e to anyone who is interested in dairy farming.

Dairy Sen$e is co-managed by 4-H Ontario and the Ontario Holstein Banch. Dairy Sen$e is funded in part through the Agricultural Management Institute (AMI). The AMI is part of the Best Practices Suite of programs for Growing Forward, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative.  The program is also generously supported by presenting sponsor EastGen, and additional sponsors; Dairy Farmers of Ontario, John Deere Limited, CIBC, Grand Valley Fortifiers, Holstein Canada, Ontario Dairy Youth Trust Fund, Ontario Joint Dairy Breeds, TD Canada Trust Agriculture Services, along with additional in-kind contributors.

Modern Day Treasure Hunting

Who doesn’t love a good old-fashioned treasure-hunt?!  For me, there’s nothing like getting out a map and searching for the big “X” that marks the spot. This week, I was introduced to a whole new kind of treasure hunting; geocaching. I had the opportunity to chat with 4-H Volunteer, Bill Strong, and Member, Jackie Eason to learn about geocaching, the Halidmand 4-H Geocaching Club, and their recent Achievement Day.

Bill has been geocaching with his wife, and fellow 4-H Volunteer, Wendy, for about two and a half years.  Geocaching is kind of like a treasure hunt game that uses a Global Positioning System (GPS). Bill has an expression he likes to use to explain the activity to others, “Geocaching is using high-tech multi-million dollar satellite technology to hunt for Tupperware in the woods.” In more words, Geocachers access a website that gives them the GPS coordinates of a cache. The Geocachers then use their GPS to help them navigate to the location. The cache may be hidden in a rural area that requires a bit of hiking to reach, or even a more urban area like the middle of a city. A cache is an airtight container; it can be as large as a Tupperware bin or as small as a 35mm film canister. Often the container has to be hidden so it isn’t taken by non-Geocachers, whom Geocachers like to call “Muggles”. Once a cache is found, the finders write in the logbook within the container, then search for the next cache.

Bill and Wendy have also been 4-H Volunteers for seven years and last fall they decided to bring their two passions together. They collaborated with Marie Peart, a long-time 4-H Volunteer, to start the first Haldimand 4-H Geocaching Club.  The Haldimand Geocaching Club has about 20 Members, one of whom is Jackie Easson. Jackie is 10 years old and has been a 4-H Member for one year. Geocaching is her second Club. At first she didn’t know what Geocaching was, but to her it sounded really interesting. She asked her father to investigate it a little more and once he explained it was like hunting for treasures, she decided to join right away. So far she says she really enjoys geocahing and has made plenty of new fellow treasure-hunting friends.

The Geocaching Club

The Haldimand 4-H Geocaching Club

Bill and Jackie explained to me that geocaching can become a bit of a contest, like challenging yourself to find one cache each day for a year.  Geocaching is quickly becoming a trend among people who enjoy challenges and being outdoors. Many of the Geocaching trips take you to incredibly scenic places you never would have visited otherwise. “Sometimes it’s more about the adventure of getting there than the actual cache itself,” Bill explains.

Sometimes it’s more about the adventure of getting there than the actual cache itself

Bill, Wendy and the Club Members started out their adventure by getting together to ensure all were familiar with GPS and to teach everyone how to program coordinates. The Club then went on Geocaching trips in Dunneville and Caledonia where they hiked along trails in groups of five to locate caches. Bill and Wendy supplied some GPSs for the Members to use, but many brought their own or teamed up with a friend who had one.

Geocaching displays made by Members

Members with their Geocaching displays at Achievement Day

Recently the Haldimand 4-H Geocaching Club held their Achievement Day. They decided the day would be an “event cache”, which is where the cache you are hiking to and locating is actually an event of sorts, like dinner with friends or a barbeque. For this particular event cache, the Members worked together to decide on a location and held a potluck lunch. The Members even made informative displays about 4-H, GPSs, and different types of caches. Jackie made a collage of pictures that had been taken at all their Geocaching meetings. The event was posted on the Geocaching website www.geocaching.com, so the Members, their families, Volunteers and even other local Geocachers showed up. Jackie’s family was there to join in on the festivities. “It was a great day of Geocaching and socializing for everyone!” Bill said. “Everyone really enjoyed themselves and it was good to have so many people there to celebrate the Members’ achievements with us”.

Geocachers and their families

The Geocachers and their families at Achievement Day