Serving Hands: Linda Debney

Written by: Sara Harper

The 4-H Ontario Serving Hands feature is designed to celebrate the dedication of our amazing volunteers. We hope that these stories inspire you to share your 4-H story.

The Provincial winner for Ontario in 4-H Canada’s 2017 National Volunteer of the Year Award is Linda Debney. She began her 4-H journey as a member in Rainy River where she proudly participated in her favourite club Beef. Outside of her projects, Linda says, “My favourite part about 4-H when I was a member would have to be two things. Firstly, the sense of community 4-H gave me was second to none. Being surrounded by other members who share similar interests gave me a sense of belonging. Secondly, the travel opportunities that 4-H provided for me. I was able to participate in an exchange with a club from Alberta, competed in [Go For the Gold] at the Royal as well as CareerMania and of course [Provincial Leadership Camp]. At the age of 21, Linda took a job in Kenora and finished out her membership with the Kenora 4-H Association where she is now a volunteer.

For Linda, becoming a volunteer wasn’t a difficult decision it “just seemed to be the next natural step. [She] wanted to be a part of something that had such a huge role in [her] youth. Linda primarily leads  Beef and Cloverbud projects but she has also led Senior Member Club, Poultry, Pizza, Chocolate, Photography, and a K-9 project where members showed Golden Retrievers.

Watching her members grow into active members of the community and seeing them take the knowledge they have learned and putting it to use is what Linda finds the most rewarding. When asked about the importance of 4-H, Linda replied “It teaches members skills and information that they cannot get anywhere else. Where else can they learn to run a meeting, to write cheques and balance club bank records? We are teaching them to become stewards of the land and how to respect animals. It gives members a sense of belonging and teaches them to be active members of the community that they live.” She is also able to instill the same lessons in her 4-H kids that her leaders taught her. “The leaders I grew up with expected a lot from us members and I now understand why. It’s not because they wanted to make my life hard, they only wanted us to put our best foot forward, they wanted us to excel. As a leader I get that now. We have an amazing group of members, I want them to see the potential that I see in them” says Linda.

Linda is an Assistant at the Hillcrest Animal Clinic in Dryden. She has held the position of Secretary/ Treasurer for the Kenora District Cattleman’s Association for last 3 years and volunteers with the Oxdrift Women’s Institute.

 

The Ambassador Beat: Andrea Dohner

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 2018, each of 4-H Ontario’s Ambassadors will submit blog entries about their experiences in the program. The 4-H Ontario Ambassador Program is sponsored by FS.

Submitted by Andrea Dohner, 4-H Ontario Youth Ambassador from Elgin 4-H Association

And So It Begins

Excited. Nervous. Proud. Thankful. These are just some of the emotions running through me as I think about the training weekend we just attended, and the year to come as 2018 4-H Ontario Ambassadors.

As an Ambassador, I am Excited to be able to travel the province advocating for the program I have come to love. I am excited to share my 4-H story to everyone I meet, whether they are current members/leaders, alumni, or corporations, and especially to people who aren’t familiar with the 4-H program. However, as an Ambassador, I am also Nervous to put myself out there, and embark on this journey to share my story and inspire others to join.

Proud. As a previously very shy girl, I am very proud to have come this far and to have taken this next step out of my comfort zone. In 2011, my parents signed me up for my first club, the Dairy Club, not knowing how I would react to 4-H. Little did they, nor I, know that I would soon fall in love with 4-H and everything it has to offer. In 2016, I attended my first provincial opportunity; Future Leaders in Action (FLIA). FLIA was easily the best week of my life because it was the week of change and new experiences. There I met some of the most wonderful people, learned how to facilitate my own events, and most importantly I learned how to be confident in myself and my ideas. When I went to FLIA I was still the shy girl, but when I left FLIA I was a more confident young woman who strived to push herself out of her comfort zone every chance she could and to be the best version of herself.

Thankful. I am so thankful to my parents for pushing me to join 4-H and for believing in me even when I didn’t. I am thankful to the Elgin County 4-H Association, my home, for supporting me in all of my adventures and opportunities. To my leaders for pushing me at every meeting, even when I begged them not to. To my friends at FLIA for making my first camp so rewarding, life changing, and memorable. To my friends at 4-H Ontario for running every event and doing everything you do, you are amazing! To all of the sponsors – nothing would be possible without you, you change people’s lives daily. To FS, the sponsor of the ambassador program, thank you for your unconditional support as we embark on this journey. And finally, to my Ambassador team, thank you for making training weekend so wonderful and for making me excited for the year we have ahead of us! Here’s to an amazing year with new opportunities, new friends, and new connections.