4-H is a family affair for Jim Jenkins

By Ryan Métivier

It was 1960 when Jim Jenkins first joined the 4-H calf club. Today he attributes much of his career success to these early years in 4-H. He has also seen nearly his whole family become involved along the way, including his uncle, all three siblings and their spouses, both daughters, and all of his nieces and nephews – two of whom are now leaders themselves.

A member of the Belmont Calf Club for seven years, Jenkins also joined the Elgin County Swine Club for three years. After graduating from 4-H, he worked for a year with the Ministry of Agriculture, before returning to 4-H as a leader for the next 13 years.

Image Courtesy of the Elgin County Archives

Jenkins was a leader in his county, part of the 4-H Leader’s Association and active in Junior Farmers where he was Executive Director for several years. He won an OMAF-sponsored travelling scholarship for four Ontario Junior Farmer members to do an exchange with Young Farmers in Northern Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales. It was an honour that his brother Dave and one sister Jean also won.

An active member in the Holstein Club, Jim was also an official judge for several years.

“I was passionate about genetics and Holstein cattle, and judging was something I really enjoyed,” says Jenkins.

Jenkins and a fellow member used to attend the Ontario 4-H Judging Competition at the University of Guelph, and won the Ontario Judging Championship.

Judging, giving your reasons and showing were all things Jenkins loved, but what he later saw was that all of these things were helping him to develop other skills that he didn’t even realize at the time.

“4-H allowed me to work on committees with people who weren’t in my school and this expanded your horizons,” he says. “By working with various people on committees, I learned about parliamentary procedure.”

Parliamentary procedure would prove to be a useful skill, for Jenkins’ current role, as Deputy Mayor for Malahide Township, to which he was elected three years ago. The position also helped him become a part of the Elgin County council.

“When you’re judging a class of cows, your first instruction is to stand back and take a look at the whole class as they parade in front of you. This is sort of a connection to working with a municipality,” says Jenkins. “You have to take a look at the big picture first, rather than just the small item, where changing that may impact other items in a negative way because there may be consequences that you don’t see.”

Jim Jenkins as Deputy Mayor of Malahide Township

A retired dairy farmer since July 2011 who was milking 100 cows, Jenkins has had other career success along the way, including being the Past President of Western Ontario Breeders, Past Chairman of Ontario DHI and working for OMAFRA.

Today Jenkins counts many people in his life as those he’s met through 4-H or who have 4-H connections, including four of the nine members of his county council who are former 4-H members.

“Some 4-H members I started off with are now neighbours. Some have moved away, but I’m involved in a church committee with a fellow who was my former 4-H leader and I curl with my other former 4-H leader. All of my family are 4-H leaders and my sister Nancy has been a 4-H volunteer for close to 30 years. It’s just part of our life.”


Dream getaway for 4-H winner

By Ryan Metivier

This year’s 4-H Ontario Dream Dinner Lottery winners have begun their travels across Canada and are now sharing the stories of their adventures.

The Dream Dinner Lottery generates proceeds that go towards supporting 4-H Ontario’s Conference and Annual Meeting, Volunteer Symposiums, and resource development. For $100 per ticket, entrants have a chance to win a variety of trips and dinners around Ontario and Canada.

For second place winner, Lynn Clelland, a 4-H volunteer, that meant taking a trip to Whitehorse, YT with her husband Ian.

Lynn’s prize consisted of dinner for two anywhere in Canada including two return economy air tickets, two nights accommodation in a deluxe hotel all taxes and service included and a car rental.

A third-time contest entrant, Lynn was thrilled to come away with one of the prizes in this year’s lottery.

“My husband and I travelled to Whitehorse and then to Haines Junction which is one and a half hours west to help my cousin celebrate his 60th birthday,” she said.

During their trip, they were able to visit with her cousin and his siblings, before flying to Vancouver to meet Lynn’s best friend and her husband in Sechelt on the west coast, where they ferried over to Lund for dinner.

At the Laughing Oyster in Lund. L-R: Ian, Lynn, Marlene and Louis celebrating their anniversaries with a Dream Dinner thanks to 4-H Ontario.

“There is a restaurant called the Laughing Oyster, which has the most marvelous buffet served overlooking the water with the mountains in the background, where we celebrated our wedding anniversaries, which were a week apart.”

“The arrangements made by Worldwide Central Travel in Waterloo were great,” added Lynn. “The trip was smooth the whole way, including perfect weather and seeing family and friends was the highlight; along with the food.”

Career Mania a chance for exploration

By Ryan Metivier

Planning your future is never an easy task, and preparing for post-secondary education can be a huge undertaking for high school students trying to choose their career paths.

Recently, 4-H Ontario hosted their popular Career Mania camp. This year’s camp had 17 youth ages 14-18 participate from July 22 – 26.

“The camp has transitioned over the years from being two separate conferences (Career Mania and Future Talk), to combining them into one,” said Marianne Fallis, Senior Manager, Programming, 4-H Ontario. “The focus is not just on careers, we also have elements of public speaking and presentation style as well.

Career Mania is a chance for participants to explore post-secondary and career options that they may not have considered previously. In addition to going on tours of the University of Guelph (UofG) and Conestoga campuses, participants are given the opportunity to live like a student as well, staying in the UofG residence and eating in the cafeteria.

Other activities throughout the week included team-building activities, personality style analysis, goal setting, resume, cover letter, portfolio, interviewing, networking and social media workshops, a dinner etiquette course, an “AgMazing Race”, opportunity to present a speech to the group, and a presentation on opportunities in agriculture and food by Rene Van Acker, Professor, Associate Dean External Relations, OAC, UofG.

Rebecca Haan is going into grade 11 and is part of the 4-H Swine Club. Living on a swine farm and hoping to attend school in food production to be a swine farmer, she signed up for Career Mania to try and learn more about production and what she can do in the future.

“I learned a bit more about where I can go for information and more interesting facts about the university of Guelph,” she said about her time at Career Mania. “The Agmazing Race sounds like a lot of fun and I’m really excited to give my speech on my family farm.”

“At this point at the age of 14 years old, it’s a prime time for them to start exploring their future careers,” said Matt Hill, Coordinator, Volunteer Support – Region 1 & First Nations Engagement, 4-H Ontario. “They are leaders naturally, but we want to support them by providing the right tools to help them make excellent career choices that will benefit them in the long run.

Andrew Grose is also going into grade 11 and has been in 4-H since he was 10.

“I’m looking into computer jobs, so I signed up to see if there were any computer-type jobs in the agriculture market,” he said.

Laura DeKlein and Sarah Long were also 4-H members in attendance who enjoyed the Career Mania experience.

“I like meeting other 4-H members and haven’t decided what I want to do in the future so this gives me a lot of interactive and fun career opportunities and experiences,” said DeKlein.

“I wanted to see the different aspects of post-secondary which is why I signed up,” said Long. “I will probably do something in Guelph with plant or food science.”

Student recruiter for Conestoga, Jan Stroh, was on hand for the Conestoga tour. As a 4-H alumni member who’d attended the camp herself as a youth, she had some advice for high school students looking to plan their future.

“The key message is to keep your doors open,” she said. “There is a huge amount of variety and options out there and just at Conestoga we offer a variety of credentials from certificates, to diplomas and degrees.”

A professor and coordinator of the Robotics & Automation program at Conestoga, John Tielemans also had some words of advice for participants of Career Mania.

“The best thing is look ahead, see what you want to do and prepare,” he said. “Even if it’s not to learn the material, if you’re going into something to do with electronics, look it over and get a little familiar. And as far as homework goes, it’s like sports. The only way to be really good is to practice, practice, practice. Get ready for that massive three or four year job interview (referring to your post-secondary program) and make sure that your peers see you as a top student. If they do, they’ll get you jobs when they graduate too.”

Career Mania surely opened the eyes of all involved to the world of career opportunities and the tools they need to land the job they’re looking for.

“We want to challenge them to think, to grow, see where they want to be in the future and have fun doing it,” said Hill. “Doing career exploration doesn’t mean that you have to sit and be lectured at and not have fun. This week we’re hoping that they’ll have fun, but also take a lot of the key learning, through hands-on, fun activities.”