The Ambassador Beat: Gina Posthumus

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 2015, 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 Gina Posthumus, 4-H Ontario Youth Ambassador from Hastings 4-H Association

10 Things to Love About 4-H

During my past eight years as a 4-H member, especially during my Ambassador term, I have really come to appreciate the things this amazing program does for youth, leaders, volunteers and those alike. Although the list is endless, I decided to compile a list of the top 10 things to love about 4-H.

1. Friends

To me, 4-H has been one of the easiest places to make friends. Within each club, it is very easy to find someone with the same interests as you. Heck, you’re in the same 4-H club so there is a commonality right off the bat! Thanks to the 4-H program, most of my best and greatest friends I’ve met are through some sort of 4-H event. Whether it be on a club, county, regional, provincial or even national level, 4-H members are interacting with one another and establishing amazing lifelong friendships. Ask any 4-H member what their favourite thing about 4-H is, and I guarantee in the long list of things they begin to tell you, you will hear the word “friends”.

2. Supportive Mentors

The 4-H program would not exist if it weren’t for the amazing and dedicated leaders and volunteers we have. These people show members what it really means to have passion for something. They are constantly promoting and demonstrating the “learning to do by doing” philosophy. These people are the most supportive, caring, hardworking, encouraging individuals who strive to be positive role models for members. On behalf of all 4-H members, thank you to the volunteers, leaders, parents and fellow members for being such great mentors for not only those involved in the 4-H program, but for everyone you meet.

3. Inclusive

Over the past 100 years, the 4-H program has expanded greatly from its agricultural roots. Although we still celebrate our agricultural roots, the 4-H program is much more than that. The 4-H program has something to offer everyone, no matter where they come from or what their interests are. There are a plethora of possible projects for members ranging from life skills to livestock to paintball to small engines, and everything in between. The options are endless, which makes this program very inclusive to all demographics, urban or rural.

4. Sense of Community

One of the best things about the 4-H program is how it creates a sense of community. Everyone involved in the program shares a sense of camaraderie. The 4-H program has the ability to form a sense of community from border to border across the province. The love and passion the program instills in each person involved makes it feel like we are all one big, happy family. As I always say, once a part of the 4-H family, always part of the 4-H family.

5. Opportunities

The opportunities the 4-H program creates for youth are endless. We are very lucky as 4-H members that we are provided many opportunities other than just completing projects on a local level. Of course we all have the opportunity to make friends, build upon skills and so on, but there is more to it than that. There are regional, provincial and even international opportunities. Some of these opportunities include camps, exchanges, competitions, scholarships, youth positions and much more.

6. Experiences

The experiences 4-H members have through the program are unlike any other. No matter how one is involved in the program, the program allows us to experience some unforgettable things. For me specifically this year as a 4-H Ambassador, I have experienced some once in a lifetime opportunities that I never thought I would have been able to do. I have seen amazing things, done amazing things and met amazing people thanks to the 4-H program. For example, at the 4-H Ontario 100th Anniversary Celebration at Canada’s Wonderland this past July, I was able to meet country singer Leah Daniels. I have also met NHL alumni Bobby Baun at the Warkworth Fall Fair, and most recently, I met the Countess of Wessex at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. I have been able to travel the province, seeing all the amazing things 4-H Ontario has to offer.

7. Memories

The 4-H program has the ability to create wonderful memories. This past April, I attended a 100th Anniversary celebration in Prince Edward County. For a portion of the evening, they invited 4-H alumni from 1950 onwards to present day to share some stories with the crowd. It was amazing to see that even though some of these people have been out of the program for decades, they still have very fond memories of 4-H. The opportunities and experiences 4-H provides for youth make some great stories that we will all want to tell our grandkids someday.

8. Connections

Since the 4-H program makes it so easy to meet people, making connections with people is very easy also. The connections members make through 4-H have the ability to benefit us greatly in the future. Networking with people and establishing connections through 4-H is a great way to put your name out there and show people how awesome you are. This could lead to internships, jobs, you name it.

9. Educational

The phrase “you learn something new every day” is especially true with the 4-H program. The program is very educational and allows members to expand their knowledge on a wide variety of topics. For example, did you know that you can grow a garden inside using a fish tank full of fish? Me neither, until my last Animal Friends meeting.

10. Learning to Do by Doing

Being in 4-H benefits us in ways that we don’t often realize. Sometimes we do not fully understand how much the 4-H program has influenced us until we take a moment to look back on how much we’ve learned through our experiences in 4-H. Members, leaders, volunteers and everyone involved with the program are constantly learning to do by doing. We are learning to think critically by giving reasons while judging. We are learning how to be a good team player by completing group activities. We are learning to communicate by leading a meeting. We are learning how to persevere when our project animal is being uncooperative. We are learning how to be great leaders by being involved in the 4-H program.

 

Perth County Takes Home GFTG Honours

By: Ryan Métivier 

All across the province, Go For The Gold (GFTG) teams have been practicing and competing for months for a chance to represent their regions at the Provincial Championships held at The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair on Saturday, November 7, 2015. This year’s finals saw Perth County of Region 5 come away victorious over Durham East from Region 3.

Congratulations go out to Nathan Williams, Brooklyn Johnston, Halle Horn, Brett Harding, Glenna van der Heiden, and Coaches Terri Kraus and Carolyn van der Heiden.

For over three decades, Go For The Gold has been an integral part of many 4-H Associations across the province.

In order for teams to participate at the Provincial Go For The Gold competition they must have competed and won at their local and regional levels. The Provincial Championship presents the ultimate challenge to members by testing their skills and understanding of 4-H project material as well as general knowledge of 4-H, agriculture, food, nutrition and current events.

Leading up to the 2015 competition there was much preparation, with teammates meeting throughout the month following Regionals and a couple times a week as the provincial event drew near. There was also lots of cramming the night before.

Left to right – Terri Kraus (coach), Nathan Williams, Brooklyn Johnston, Halle Horn, Brett Harding, Glenna van der Heiden, Carolyn van der Heiden (coach)

“We rotated through everybody’s house and sat and practiced game after game after game,” said Carolyn. “Everybody took designated manuals and studied them and made up a mock game so that we could practice, and at the beginning of our practices we would always go in groups of twos and they would read questions back and forth and then we would get together and actually play a mock game at the end of the evening.”

Perth County definitely came out prepared as they managed to go 5-0 through round robin play. Facing the 4-1 Durham East team, Perth took the championship game by a 170-155 score.

“There’s a lot of competition out there, more than I expected,” said Brooklyn. 

“They seriously know their stuff, so you do need to do those months of practice and make sure you do everything,” added Glenna. “And the games, usually we would just make up questions to practice, but making up an actual game and having the different formats really helped study.”

The team included two members (Brett and Hallie) who were new to competing in GFTG this year, who got a taste of how much work it is to prepare, while also balancing school and studying for both.

In fact, all of the members had challenges when it came to meeting and practicing between full-time jobs, school, living in different areas and farming obligations. Social media, texting and emails was what they credit for helping them to all stay on the same page and communicate amongst each other.

The team also credited their coaches for being amazing, excellent, dedicated and supportive.

“They surprise us every time and you think they gotta know this and they gotta know that, and they do,” said Terri. “And it’s like where do you come up with those answers and they’re right on.”

“The end goal was to win, but it was learn to do by doing and let’s have fun,” said Carolyn. “We told them you guys know what you know, we’ll take it from there. You could see that they were going up and down in their stress levels as they played. We’re so proud of them and they know so much.” 

The final standings for the Provincial Competition were:

1st: Perth
2nd: Durham East
3rd: Carleton
4th: Halton
5th: Middlesex
6th: Sudbury

For more photos from the 2015 GFTG competition click here.

Go For The Gold is made possible through the generous support of Ontario Mutuals.

The Ambassador Beat: Laura Scott

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 2015, 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 Laura Scott, 4-H Ontario Youth Ambassador from Grenville County 4-H Association

I was fortunate enough to get to attend the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair for six days in early November. I wasn’t taking in the Royal as an Ambassador, but instead as an exhibitor in the National Limousin Show and as a 4-H member in the National Junior Beef Heifer Show. During my time on the Exhibition Grounds, I came to notice one thing in particular. Teamwork. When you walked around the barns on any of the open show days, you saw multiple people at each chute, working to get one single animal ready. Sometimes, you even went so far as to see five, six or seven people working on the same animal. There would be a couple of people fitting legs, some working on the body hair, another balling a tail and of course, someone to keep the animal happy. At each chute you walked by, there was one thing that I noticed they all had in common; a majority of these people were all involved in the 4-H program at some point in their lives. Whether they were involved as members throughout their teen years or as leaders later on in life, many of these people who were working together shared their 4-H background.

The 4-H show, also known as the National Junior Beef Heifer Show, began at the Royal with move in on Saturday, November 7 and wrapped up on the following Monday night. Over these three days, I witnessed so many people come together. Witnessing the camaraderie between members made me extremely proud to say, I am not only a member in this amazing program, but also an ambassador of this program. Let me share some of the things I saw during the National Junior Beef Heifer Show.

First off, I witnessed the grand champion, reserve champion and honourable mention showmen hug each other in congratulations instead of merely shaking hands at the end of the final drive of senior showmanship. None of these people were next door neighbours, or even from the same counties, but the three competitors were so excited for each other’s success that congratulations came in the form of a hug. I thought that this really showed other 4-H members, younger ones in particular, how to be true competitors while showing great sportsmanship. This act of kindness between youth in the ring shows how 4-H members are encouraged to work together, even with your fellow competitors, not just your teammates.

The next amazing act of teamwork that I had the honour of witnessing was three different counties working together on conformation day to get five different heifers ready. Each of these counties were from a different corner of the province, and, to the best of my knowledge, had never worked together before. The agreement started off as, “Hey, can we bring our chute over, you have more room?” and ended with members of all different ages and all different breeds of animals working together to make the heifers look their absolute best. I thought this was another fantastic example of teamwork from 4-H members. It showed members that it doesn’t matter if the people you work with don’t have the same farm name or county on the back of their jackets, great things can still be accomplished, and lifelong friendships can be established.

The final thing that I noticed was true kindness between members. On the Monday of the conformation show, I was waiting to go into my heat in the marshaling area. Near me, there was another competitor and his dad, waiting to take his animal in for the champion drive for the breed ahead of me. A heifer exiting a previous class was in a rush to get back to the barn and pushed right up against the show side of this heifer, messing up her body hair. What I saw next made me smile. A 4-H member who had come up to the ring only to see what class was in the ring, happened to be walking out and saw this heifer hit the one waiting to back into the ring. The member then walked up to the boy holding the heifer, and asked if he would like the heifer combed out to make her look good again. The showman accepted. The catch? I am quite certain that neither of these two 4-H members knew each other prior to this incident. The 4-H member walking out of marshaling area combed out this boy’s heifer out of kindness. The 4-H shows don’t allow parents or anyone who is not a 4-H leader to handle the animals, which meant that the boy would have had a very difficult time trying to comb his heifer out and hold her at the same time. A few weeks later, this moment is still fresh in my mind as it is probably one of the kindest random gestures I’ve gotten to witness while a 4-H member.

During my time at the 2015 Royal Winter Fair, I saw 4-H members work together in a way that made me proud to be a part of this century-old program. The 4-H program has obviously taught youth to work together as a team, to help each other out, and to be proud of others accomplishments; even if it means that you didn’t have as good of day as another person did. As my year as an ambassador comes to a close, I am so glad that I got to witness how 4-H brings people together in such an amazing way. It was truly the best way to round out a 4-H season.

The Ambassador Beat: Olivia Bolender

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 2015, 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 Olivia Bolender, 4-H Ontario Youth Ambassador from York 4-H Association

As I look back on my ambassador experience so far, I realize how lucky I am to have travelled across Ontario learning new things about myself and strengthening my roots with 4-H. When I was 10 years old I signed up for 4-H, unaware about all of the amazing opportunities that would come with being a 4-H member. The friends I’ve made and places I’ve travelled to will always stick with me, even when I am no longer a 4-H member. I would like to share some things that I have learned while being a 4-H Ontario Ambassador.

  1. Never get too comfortable while attending a 4-H event because when you are least expecting it you will probably be asked to go up on stage and give an impromptu speech.
  2. Take a lot of photos so you can remind yourself which events you’ve attended each month and save the memories from each ambassador experience.
  3. Cherish the moments you spend with the other ambassadors because you will definitely miss them throughout the year when you don’t all attend the same events together.
  4. Take notes during the training weekend when Marianne is explaining dinner etiquette because you will attend multiple formal dinners throughout the year and you don’t want to be using the dessert fork during dinner.
  5. Be thankful for all of the hard work that Adriana does to make sure the ambassadors have an enjoyable year and are up to date on the details of every event.
  6. As hard as it may seem, try to remember names of people you meet at 4-H events because there is a good chance you will see them again at another 4-H event.
  7. Be grateful for the sponsors and the support and contributions they provide to the ambassador program to keep it going every year.
  8. Attend as many events as you can because events are a great way to network and meet new people.
  9. Always bring an extra pair of khaki pants in case you accidentally spill food on the pair you are wearing.
  10. Have fun and enjoy every moment because being a 4-H Ontario Ambassador is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity. 

Although there are many other things I have learned while being an ambassador, these are the 10 that stand out to me. My time as an ambassador is slowly coming to an end, which brings sadness but joy because I know there will be a new team of ambassadors to enjoy their own 4-H experiences. Even though I will soon no longer be an ambassador, I will always be an advocate and promoter of 4-H.