The True Spirit of 4-H: Rinske van der Steege’s Story

Submitted by: Rinske van der Steege, member of Norfolk 4-H

Rinke’s story reminds us of how 4-H can help you with any journey you may be on, personal, educational or career, our program can help you achieve your dreams.

Hi! My name is Rinske, and I am a first year student at the University of Guelph in the Bachelor of Science in Agriculture program. 4-H has been one of the best experiences of my life. It has given me the opportunities to build and develop my leadership skills, as well as creating ever-lasting friendships. 4-H has contributed to my education inside and outside of school. This year I was able to completely pay my first year of university through scholarships because of 4-H. From 4-H Canada, I won the Weston Family scholarship, and within Ontario, I won the Angelo and Frank Argo Undergraduate scholarship. I also won a few leadership scholarships such as the OAC’ 51 Leadership Scholarship and the local Federation of Agriculture and Crop & Soil Improvement Association scholarships. Within school I am on the class of 2021 executive team. Currently, more than half the team (of 14) are 4-Hers, from Ontario, New Brunswick and British Columbia. We work well together to organize events and represent our year.  My favourite part about being a 4-H’er is that you never know what you are getting yourself into. When I first joined 4-H to show dairy, I had no idea that I would have the opportunity to show at the Royal Winter Fair, attend awesome leadership camps or youth lead the dairy club. Thank you 4-H for shaping me the way I am today!

The True Spirit of 4-H: Rhiannah Gallagher’s Story

Written by: Rhiannah Gallagher, Carleton 4-H Member


There are not enough words to describe the feeling you get when you step into the sale ring. The feeling of all the preparation boiling up to this one point. Knowing that behind you stands your parents, your leaders, your fellow 4-H members, and so many more people, and the fact that you get to see your hard work pay off is indescribable. And when finally, you reach it: you step into that sale ring and you know without a doubt that you accomplished everything you set out to do and so much more, you can finally breathe. Whether it be your first, 7th, or last time you feel that same pride swell up as the auctioneers start singing.


As I was sitting ringside at the sale on Saturday night I felt that pride in every one of those 4-H members attending. That pride stirred up in me a desire to donate 50% of my profits to the Ruiter family in support of a recent fire destroying their barns. The Ruiter family lost 100 Holsteins in the fire. The whole family has been active in 4-H and advocates of agriculture.


Since that night I’ve been asked why I donated half of my profits and I didn’t have an answer. But as the fair has now come to a close I believe I do finally have an answer to that question.


4-H represents the future of Agriculture to the general public with hope that they will learn how important this field is to the world and our country’s economy. This is a difficult task but we try our best to accomplish it at each and every event we attend as 4-H members. The Ruiters do this every day. They represent agriculture to so many people that as a 4-H’er I believe that I need to help and support them in any way I can. So if you asked me now why I did what I did, I could tell you that I did it for the Ruiters, 4-H and what they represent to the people around them.


The True Spirit of 4-H: The Jenkins’ Story of Generosity

Submitted by: Maureen, Dave & Evan Jenkins

On January 25, 2017 we received a phone message from Mackenzie Wright of the Essex 4-H Dairy Calf Club, asking if we could attend the Kent-Essex Holstein Club Family night on February 18th in Woodslee. They had a donation that they wanted to give us for Childhood Cancer research. This call was “out of the blue”, totally unexpected and once we connected with Mackenzie and attended the event, was even more touching.

Each year, the leaders of the Essex 4-H Dairy Calf club have their members select a charity to receive half of the money that the club raises during the year. At a club meeting, one of the members happened to see our Haldrey Farms advertisement in the December 2016 Holstein Journal, where we mentioned that we work on a nation-wide program and campaign in support of Childhood Cancer Awareness, targeting all government legislators in Canada. This campaign is called “The Maggie Project”, in memory of our daughter, Maggie who was a keen Elgin dairy 4-H member. The Essex 4-H club felt that our campaign would be a perfect place for their donation.

We went to the Family night, and were able to talk to everyone about Childcan, which is an organization that assists families in Southwestern Ontario that have children undergoing cancer treatments. One of their new projects is the Novel Therapeutics program, which allows children to be part of new research trials based in London at Children’s Hospital (rather than in Toronto at Sick Kids). We asked if we could direct their donation to that cause, and everyone readily agreed.

But the 4-Hers also inspired others at the banquet. Their initial donation of $400 grew to $910 through a live auction of a 4-H sweatshirt and a few other items that the Holstein Club generously donated, plus personal donations from fellow Holstein breeders. And a week later, we received another donation from the Essex-Kent Milk Committee (many of whom would have been at the family night).

With the generosity of these 4-Hers and others, we were happy to report to Mackenzie that a full-time research assistant was funded by Childcan for the program. Maureen now sits on the Board of Directors for Childcan, and can attest to the power of each and every donation (no matter what size) to this organization. Unfortunately, the need grows as more children are diagnosed, and others who have undergone long and painful treatments now find their cancers have returned.

All of us involved in Ontario 4-H can be proud of members like the ones in the Essex 4-H Dairy Calf Club.

The Ambassador Beat: Sierra Stanley

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 2017, 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 FS. For more info on the Ambassador program click here. To book an Ambassador for your event please complete the request form.

Submitted by Sierra Stanley, 4-H Ontario Youth Ambassador from Carleton 4-H Association

As my time in the ambassador program comes to an end I decided that I want to reflect upon the skills I have acquired throughout my year of adventures, memories and amazing experiences.

Throughout the ambassador program I have met so many fascinating people and learned so many things from them; the people I’ve met and the places I’ve been have taught me so many skills that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. I have improved my public speaking and my confidence through the various presentations I have given and the events I have attended. This benefits me in every aspect of my life including school, work and even in my sorority.

The confidence I have gained since February when I took on this role is amazing. I am now more confident in driving across the province, flying on my own, and showing up places without knowing anyone else in attendance. This program really helped me learn just how much you can accomplish when you’re confident, have a will to learn and want to help others succeed.

I have gained even more respect for the amount of commitment, time and effort volunteers have put into this program. These people clearly have a passion for this program and it really shows. Thank you to all of our amazing volunteers, this program could not run without all of you.

The ambassador program has also made me more passionate for my chosen career path in teaching; I’ve run activities and spoken with youth at events like Judging Days, Go For The Gold and various other events, and seeing the different youth participate and show genuine interest in what I was telling them was absolutely amazing. When I finish my schooling and eventually have my own classroom, I hope to inspire my students the way I have been able to inspire 4-Hers over the last ten months.

I am so thankful to our sponsors; Growmark and UPI Energy FS, for offering me this opportunity through their continuous support of the 4-H program.