Giving Back To Today’s Youth

By: Ryan Métivier

The TD Canadian 4-H Dairy Classic is a longstanding event at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto, with many enthusiastic participants competing each year. Interestingly, this event came to fruition in part because of the efforts of 4-H alumnus John Mayes.

In the mid-1970s, Mayes agreed to initially fund the project, while supporting Bertram Stewart and Bill Edelstein to get the initiative going. The show originated as the Hays 4-H Classic.

“I thought that it was a great opportunity for dairy
4-H members from across the country to interact on our most important dairy cattle show stage in Canada,” says Mayes.

Being able to see his son participate in the event in the 1990s made the event even that much more special.

Mayes is a big proponent of involving youth in meaningful activities where they can interact constructively and strive to achieve through their own efforts, so it came quite naturally for him to have a hand in setting up the Classic.

“It has been a lifelong passion of mine to help young people in agriculture or business to set goals and achieve them. Whether it’s training a calf to lead or starting your own business, important life lessons are created,” he says.

Mayes was a member in 4-H in the late 1950s and early 1960s in South Simcoe County, completing his clubs in Cookstown. His clubs spanned a wide range of interests including 15 clubs in beef, swine, grain and displays (demonstrations). He also attended 4-H Leadership Camp to represent South Simcoe.

Though Mayes’ 4-H club participation was interrupted when he went to the Ontario Agricultural College (OAC) for two years, he was quickly back with 4-H as a Summer Assistant Agricultural Representative with OMAF, where he was responsible for coordinating the 4-H programs in Norfolk County and South Simcoe during the summer. His responsibilities included supporting club leaders in meetings, conducting project visits and assisting with the County Judging Competition and Achievement Days.

Upon completing his Masters in Business, Mayes joined CIBC in 1972 as the first Agricultural Specialist for the bank in Ontario. He was tasked with assessing farming businesses on site and providing advice to the bank and his clients.

Throughout his 38-year career with CIBC, Mayes developed the Bank’s Professional Edge program for dentists and doctors. He managed a group of 30 branches with nearly 500 employees on the western side of Toronto. At the time of his retirement he was responsible for building an automated credit scoring model that complied with Basel Accord on risk management.

In keeping with Mayes’ love of supporting youth, he is proud to have been a part of supporting the Association of Collegiate Entrepreneurs (ACE). With chapters at university campuses across Canada, they encouraged young people to start their own businesses while still in school. Mayes would go on to be a director with ACE for a number of years.

Mayes’ time in 4-H taught him the importance of self-reliance and hard work and are attributes he firmly believes helped him in his career.

“Working cooperatively with others and public speaking were important skills I developed working on 4-H display projects and at Leadership Camp,” he says. “Some of the friendships I developed during 4-H have lasted a lifetime.”

Now retired, Mayes has kept busy by becoming a mentor for the Canadian Youth Business Foundation, helping young people to start their own businesses. These efforts were recognized in 2012 with a Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medal.

The Ambassador Beat: Chris Deklein

The 4-H Ontario Ambassador program provides youth with advanced level training in leadership, citizenship, communications and public relations. Ambassadors put their energy and 4-H experiences to work recruiting new members and sharing the 4-H story. Throughout 2014, each of 4-H Ontario’s six Ambassadors will submit blog entries about their experiences in the program. The 4-H Ontario Ambassador program is proudly sponsored by GROWMARK, Inc. and UPI Energy LP. For more info on the Ambassador program click here. To book an Ambassador for you event please complete the request form.

Submitted by Chris Deklein, 4-H Ontario Ambassador, Middlesex 4-H Association

Hello, my name is Chris Deklein. I am from Dorchester, Ontario and live on a 150 acre hobby farm. I have three sisters that are all younger than me. My drive towards the dairy industry came when I was little going to the Royal with my mom. She would take me around the whole building and the coolest part of the whole experience for me was going to the 4-H Canadian Classic Jr. Dairy Show and the International Holstein Show. Being six years old at the time made me think ‘Wow I really would like to do this someday’.

When I was 10 I started in the local 4-H Club in Dorchester in Middlesex County. My first two years were a learning curve and being in 4-H the motto is “Learn To Do By Doing”. In my third year I was able to do really well as a junior member. From this I was able to make the Middlesex Classic Team. At this point I did not know what I was getting myself into. I had to get sponsorship; I had to make sure everything was in top shape for when we left Saturday morning. Fortunately in my first year we had a lot of senior members on our team. When we went I did a lot of listening and did what I was told being a junior member on the team. On Sunday night for preliminary showmanship I was so nervous. I could not eat anything. By the time I left the pack to go to the ring I was shaking so much I didn’t know what to do. By the time I got into the ring 45 minutes later I was feeling a little calmer. I went into the ring with a heat of at least 40 junior members from all over the country. Luckily I was pulled in and made my heat for the first year attending this event. Going on the next day I did not know what to expect. I made my heat but now I had to go into the finals with 30 more people. Going in with high expectations does not always go so well. I was 28th that day but putting it into perspective, being 28th in junior across the country was not so bad. Later on going into senior showmanship we had a senior that made her heat the night before and was in senior showmanship finals. Looking at the TV screen in the barn I saw that she was in second place, which is really good but it was her last year and it would have been nice to see her win. All of a sudden, in the senior showmanship final lineup the first place showman’s calf would not stop moving in the lineup and the judge switched them. All of a sudden everyone from our team was cheering and were so happy for her.

I am now 19 and this will be my sixth year attending the Classic. I am very excited yet again to meet and interact with the general public and other dairy youth across the country.

The Faces Of 4-H Ontario

Senior Members Enjoy Their Roles as Ambassadors

By: Ryan Métivier

Another year of the 4-H Ontario Ambassador program is well under way, and these energetic young individuals have been busy promoting the 4-H program and values across the province. In 2015, the program will reach the milestone of turning 10 years old.

Left to Right: Sarina, Chris, Tamara, Kate, Brooke, Paul

The 4-H Ontario Ambassador program provides youth with advanced level training in leadership, citizenship, communications and public relations. Ambassadors put their energy and 4-H experiences to work recruiting new members and sharing the 4-H story. They attend 4-H Ontario events across the province, as well as representing the organization at community events to promote the program.

“I have embarked on this journey with five others as we travel across Ontario to network with sponsors, volunteers, and youth,” Tamara Hamilton of Russell County 4-H Association says. “Doing this has opened us up to see how much 4-H has impacted others and how much it has brought communities together to share the common values that 4-H promotes with our head, heart, health and hands.”

This journey has allowed the Ambassadors to meet other like-minded 4-H’rs in the program.

“I believe the Ambassador Program has enabled me to expand my leadership and communication skills and create lifelong friendships,” says Sarina Goodfellow of Lennox & Addington.

“I became an Ambassador because I am very passionate about the 4-H program because it has molded me into the person I am today,” says Paul Knoops of Oxford County. “I am enjoying meeting the volunteers and members across Ontario and hearing their story. I love to hear what clubs people have done, looking for ideas for my local clubs.”

To date, the Ambassadors have been traveling across the province helping at events such as regional 4-H Ontario Discovery Days, Ontario 4-H Foundation Golf Tournaments, the UPI Energy Golf Tournament, Career Mania, Colborne Lions Family Day, the LINC Family Festival in Stratford and the Oxford 4-H Tractor Club Meeting. At many events, Ambassadors lend a helping hand while also acting as a friendly face of 4-H.

In June the Ambassadors came together at the annual Ambassador Program Sponsor Tour at UPI Energy LP and GROWMARK Inc facilities, for a chance to hear from the program’s sponsors and tour various facilities.

Kate Higgins of Huron 4-H says the opportunity has allowed her to see how 4-H is run across the province, something she’s been able to do by attending both the Region 4 and 5 Discovery Days.

“I became an Ambassador to have the opportunity to become more involved with 4-H not just locally, but also provincially,” says Higgins. “I am always curious to see how other communities run things and I have experienced many new methods. So far I have learned how to better think on my toes and to be as creative as possible when working with kids.”

Each year, senior members are invited to apply to become Ambassadors for the following year. To be chosen for the 12-month term prospective Ambassadors must submit a formal application, take part in a panel interview and commit to a training weekend. Further training sessions may be offered to ensure Ambassadors are equipped for their roles and gain the most knowledge and experience from their terms.

Becoming more involved with the organization and expanding her 4-H knowledge is what York County’s Ambassador Brooke Thompson says made her apply for the program.

“I have really enjoyed going to my various events meeting new people and learning new things. Each event has been unique and I have been encouraged to try new things and follow the 4-H motto ‘Learn To Do By Doing’.

Be sure to keep an eye out for these friendly faces at events and in your community over the coming year.

To book a 4-H Ontario Ambassador for your event complete our request form online at

The 4-H Ontario Ambassador Program is sponsored by GROWMARK, Inc. and UPI Energy LP. 

This Couple Is Completely Fore 4-H

Written By: Ryan Métivier

If you’ve ever attended one of the Ontario 4-H Foundation Golf-East tournaments, you’ve most likely seen and had the pleasure of speaking with a couple of friendly 4-H faces in Gib and Elsie Patterson.

As owners of Anderson Links Golf and Country Club, the Pattersons have hosted the tournament in Ottawa for the past eight years — right from its beginning.

The couple both partook in 4-H as members, and credit 4-H for bringing them together into what has turned into 52 years of marriage.

Elsie, who is originally from Tweed, Ontario says her sisters and her whole family were involved in 4-H when she was young. Her mother was a leader as well.

“We’re country people and a farm family. 4-H was a family and it was an outing for us from the farm,” Elsie explains.

Growing up, Gib’s farm was not too far from where Anderson Links sits now, close to the Ottawa airport. When his older brother turned 16 and got his driver’s license, they began attending 4-H meetings.

“4-H was one of the best clubs or organizations for young farm people at the time,” he says. “I think it
still is.”

So after joining 4-H in 1954, the following year the brothers were lucky enough to win a trip to National 4-H Club Week, where they represented Ontario in judging potatoes for 4-H competitions.

“We went to the Royal Winter Fair and we were very happy to come out as the winners. We even beat the team from Prince Edward Island. We were happy about that.”

Elsie adds a few more memories about the many trips and exchanges she took part in as a youth, and also about the friendships she made, some of which have been lifelong. “It was meeting the people — meeting young people our age from all over Ontario — that  I remember most.”

Elsie reflects on a friend her brother met from England, which her family got to know very well.

“All these years my mother had kept in contact with him and we still go back and forth with him,” she says. “He’s 84 now and his son is in Manitoba. Every spring or fall he comes to see his family and he always makes the trip to Belleville to check in on my family. It’s been a wonderful experience.”

But despite the many memories they both share of their time as 4-H members, Gib concedes that meeting Elsie was definitely his biggest takeaway.

Working in the summer of 1959 as a summer assistant in Frontenac County with a gentleman who had actually been his 4-H Ag Rep when Gib was a 4-H’er, Gib was able to use the connection to land the Assistant
Ag Rep position for Hastings County after he graduated college.

Hastings includes the Tweed area, where Elsie was the secretary in the agricultural office. Decades later, the couple have four kids who have all been through 4-H, plus 12 grandkids, of whom two are also involved in the 4-H program.

Gib led several clubs such as golf, plowing and forestry clubs, but outside of 4-H, he says he loves to teach and was a teacher for nine years in high school. He has an interest in young people and likes learning and staying curious. It is this that he tries to teach to the staff at the golf course.

“I teach them to be curious. To keep your head on a swivel and keep moving. See what’s happening and try and understand why things are happening. I call it the game of life. You never have to work when you play the game of life.”

That curious nature is likely what helped to get the ball rolling on starting up the Golf-East Tournament.

During a Queen Of The Furrow competition in Peterborough County where Gib was judging, Lyndon Stewart, a former 4-H Ontario Executive Director, was also the emcee. “That night they were in our little cabin and Lyndon and Gib talked half the night and Gib said if you can have a tournament in Guelph, then why can’t you come east?” explains Elsie.

Anderson Links is the Patterson’s third golf course. Gib opened his first golf business in 1971 on the farm they bought from his father, which his grandfather originally bought in 1901. Their first golf course, Emerald Links of Manotick, opened in 1990. This was followed by Cloverdale Links in Winchester in 1996, and then Anderson Links in 2007.

The Pattersons also own a driving range and mini putt facility in Orléans. Gib has his broker’s license and is a developer in real estate, although he’s since passed the torch of building homes onto their son, who built the very clubhouse 4-H golfers meet in at Anderson Links. The family has also built three subdivisions around their Emerald Links course.

Eight years into the Ontario 4-H Foundation Golf-East Tournament the Pattersons are happy to see the 4-H system still carrying on each year when they host the tournament. If you’re ever in the Ottawa area and looking to hit the links, be sure to keep an eye out for Gib and Elsie, who are always happy to share 4-H stories and memories.

4-H’ers create the Calf Canopy

Written by Ryan Métivier

4-H alumni Sarah and Kevin Wolters are the proud creators of the Calf Canopy, an idea that was inspired while they were doing chores at Sarah’s family farm, Huffmandale Holsteins. The two were both born and raised in the Quinte area and have been married since the fall of 2013. Originally designing the Calf Canopy as a project to help them group-house their pre-weaned calves without taking the risk of building a new facility, they eventually realized they had a marketable product.

While working at their current work place, The Machining Center, Sarah and Kevin began working on a system to develop the product. They had the advantage of having all of the tools necessary for fabrication at their disposal. While nearing completion of their first canopy, their boss (also Kevin’s father), saw they were onto something and enlisted the company team to help in the development of the product.

“The Calf Canopy is a product that tied our two families together,” says Sarah. “The Huffman family helped inspire the idea and establish the functions required of the canopy. The Wolters family assisted us in making the canopy functional and marketable.”

Two prototypes were built (one that was compatible with three regular hutches and one that holds one super hutch), and were brought to the Hastings County Plowing Match. After some amazing feedback, they’ve also had a display at the Quinte Exhibition and Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show.

Sarah and Kevin have decided to take their ideas a step further and have started their own company, S+K Agro Solutions, to sell their product line. The company is now a division of The Machining Center.

Long before they were business partners, Sarah was a 4-H’er. A member since the age of 10 in Hastings County, she’s participated in numerous clubs and attended Leadership Camp and Judge-It Day. She’s also still a leader in the Hastings County Horse Club.

4-H can also be credited for bringing the two together, as they met at a mutual friend’s party – a friend Sarah knew through 4-H, whom Kevin knew through school. From there, Kevin also became a 4-H member when he was 20 and participated in the Hastings County Plowing and Dairy Management clubs. Today he still helps with the milkshake booth and any clubs and events Sarah is involved in.

“4-H helped me connect with other farmers and gave us a lot of valuable resources and contacts to help us get a good start,” says Kevin.

“4-H had a huge influence on me because I grew up involved in it and it helped me establish relationships within my community and all over Canada,” adds Sarah.

She also lists several skills she’s taken away from 4-H including: team building, speaking with self-confidence, leading, putting herself out there, participating in meetings and documenting key ideas.

Looking forward, Sarah and Kevin hope to continue to improve their product and develop new concepts.

“For now S+K Agro Solutions is known as the developers of the Calf Canopy, but If another neat idea comes our way, we will look into developing that idea into a product,” she says.

With a goal of being a company that comes up with ideas that are innovative, functional and adaptable, they encourage producers to come forward with ideas or custom needs that they need completed on their farms.

For more information on S+K Agro Solutions and the Calf Canopy, visit: