4-H Competitions Inspire Youth to Achieve

Written by: Ryan Métivier

Annually, 4-H sends a team of youth to compete in the 4-H and Youth National Judging Competition at the Canadian Western Agribition. In her third year of competing, Cassandra Gorrill set her sights on improving her results from years past and finishing in the top five of the competition. After two busy days of judging different classes and mingling with other teams and sponsors, Gorrill surpassed her goal by being named Grand Aggregate and gaining the opportunity to judge the First Lady Classic. 

Gorrill, of Kawartha Lakes-Haliburton 4-H Association, traveled to Regina for the competition with four other members and one chaperone to make up team Ontario. The competition is open to 4-H members and college and university students from across Canada. A member since 2006 when she could first join, Gorrill has been a member of numerous clubs as well as being a Youth Leader for Beef.

“I enjoy the people and skills the most in 4-H,” she says. “I love learning new things and teaching younger members all the skills I can pass along. I love the people involved with 4-H.”

On the third day of Agribition, winners were announced and Gorrill was thrilled to have placed in three classes:  Dairy Cows, Charolais Bull Calves and Barley Class. Then came the countdown of the top five spots and the realization she’d been named Grand Aggregate.

“When they announced my name as the Grand Aggregate I think I experienced shock,” says Gorrill. “I was happy and proud and couldn’t wait to call my mom, but as I walked up to receive my buckle and trophy, my hands began shaking and my tummy clenched with fear at the thought of judging the First Lady Classic.”

After getting over those initial nerves, she settled in and evaluated all the cattle the way she usually does, not worrying about how she would place them in relation to the more experienced judges. In the end she was right on point picking the champions of both the Futurity and the Bred Heifers categories.

“There was no greater honour than judging the First Lady Classic,” she says.

Gorrill says her time with 4-H directly prepared her for this opportunity by giving her the ability to have fun no matter what, the confidence to meet new people, to speak in public and the ability to judge different classes. Her county’s Evaluation Night and Peterborough Junior Day and Judge-It! Days exposed her to competitive judging and gave her the foundation for this competition.

“If I had to tell a youth who wasn’t yet involved in 4-H something, it would be that they were only a step away from making some of the best memories, building some of the best friendships and connections and experiencing the best opportunities that will impact you in the future,” says Gorrill. “4-H is great big family filled with people who want to help you explore your passions.”

Team 4-H Ontario at the Canadian Western Agribition. Caleigh Van Kampen, Dufferin Courtney Van Kampen, Dufferin Cassandra Gorrill, Kawartha Lakes-Haliburton Julie French, Peel Jessica Lasby, Wellington Also attending with the team as Chaperone: Dawn Van Kampen

The Ambassador Beat: Logan Emiry

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 2016, 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 Logan Emiry, 4-H Ontario Youth Ambassador from Sudbury 4-H Association

Everything I Need to Know in Life I Learned at 4-H

4-H is full of life lessons. Lessons can be found everywhere in the 4-H program, not only from 4-H clubs like life skills clubs, sewing and cooking clubs. Some lessons come from 4-H camps or trips. Others come from leaders and fellow members. But most importantly every lesson is valuable and can be applied to life! Here are my favourites that I use every single day:

Enjoy everything and dance in the rain

4-H trips, exchanges and events can come with lots of ups and downs. 4-H has taught me that no matter what comes my way I can overcome it with a positive attitude! On my second 4-H exchange to Alberta learning to deal with tough situations and bad weather was key. Learning to dance in the rain made me lifelong friends and some great memories too!

Stepping out of your comfort zone leads to personal growth

4-H camp is one of the best places to try something new. My experience at Future Leaders in Action this year was proof of that. I spent my week stepping out of my comfort zone while encouraging others to do the same. With such a supportive group behind me it was easy to grow as a leader. I strive to step out of my comfort zone every single day and help others to do the same!

Act enthusiastic and you’ll be enthusiastic!

One of my favourite 4-H lessons ever comes from Provincial Leadership Camp. 4-H camp was so much fun and the friends I made at camp was an awesome experience. PLC inspired me to be a happy and energetic person every single day! I attempt to make every 4-H club, event and activity day as fun as PLC with my enthusiasm! Just remember to act enthusiastic and you’ll be enthusiastic!

Try new things and meet new people

4-H has given me so many opportunities to try new things, travel new places and meet great people all along the way! Through these experiences I have learned the more you try the more you learn and the more fun you have! Meeting great people has given me connections across my province, country and across the world. Meeting people is my favourite part of 4-H and you get to hear all of their great experiences through 4-H. This year I am excited to continue my travels through 4-H travelling overseas to Ghana!

Always be prepared when going on bus trips

Going on 4-H exchanges or travelling to 4-H events means lots of bus trips. In my experience that has also meant lots of bus breakdowns unfortunately. On the bright side, I have learned from this poor luck and now am always prepared for bus trips. The best way to learn is by doing and I learnt quickly that having everything you need if your bus breaks down, blows a tire or can’t stop without restarting is very important!

Greet the world with a smile and it will smile back

Having a positive outlook on everything I do is part of who I am. That is largely thanks to 4-H which helps me

4-H friends are the best type of friends

4-H’ers are truly one of a kind people, and they are definitely my type of people. Just like me other 4-H members understand how to have fun and be enthusiastic. Plus there are 4-H members all around our world who share common interests, perspectives and experiences as you! I have made so many friends from the 4-H camps, exchanges and events I have been to and couldn’t ask for better friends! You don’t have to look far to find welcoming 4-H’ers who are awesome people!


The great motto of the greatest organization in the world is definitely a good one to live life by! There is no better way to learn how!

4-H Club Leaders Help Youth Gain Confidence

Written By: Ryan Métivier

4-H leaders know when youth need that little push to come out of their shells or a change in an activity to help a particular young person reach their potential.

Isabel Miller of Haldimand spent time as a 4-H member when she was a teenager, before making the move to volunteer in 1992, first as a parent volunteer and then as a leader and out of county chaperone. Even after her youngest child graduated as a member in 2006, Isabel has continued volunteering as a leader and a member of the executive committee of Haldimand 4-H Association.

“My belief in the program and the positive impact that it has on youth plays a big role in my involvement,” says Miller.  

Of the many clubs she currently leads, at the very first meeting of her Miniature Horse Club back in 2014, she noticed she had one very shy member in the group. This member hid her face in her mom’s coat sleeve and let her mother answer for her. She also was too shy to attend the judging event or any of the horse shows. She did though, wish to stay in the club and continue to visit Miller’s barn to care for and show one of her horses (as she did not have one of her own).

Miller thought about it and made some modifications, allowing this member to write a story about her 4-H experience rather than attending a judging event. Over the summer the member quietly worked away getting advice and teachings from her with the rest of the group. Slowly, she began to speak up and ask questions and make comments on her observations. By August, she had built enough confidence to participate in a practice show at Miller’s farm with other youth members and their families, with the only stranger being the judge.

This was a huge success and the young girl agreed to sign up for the smallest show of the season afterwards.

“I told her I would register her and if she got there and didn’t feel comfortable showing, that was alright but she could still help and be part of it,” says Miller.

Once again loving the experience, the member was eager to chat about it afterwards and went on to show at her Achievement Day and read her story about her 4-H experience in front of her peers at the club’s final meeting. 

In 2015, now more confident, she returned to Miller’s barn, attended every show she could and participated in the judging event. 2016 will now be her third year as a 4-H participant.

“The saying goes that you only get out of something what you put into it and in this case, being willing to spend that extra bit of time and think a bit outside the box, continues to make this member’s 4-H experience a very positive thing that will help her throughout her life.”