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 GROWMARK, Inc. and UPI Energy. 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

My name is Sierra Stanley, and I have been a part of the 4-H family for eight years now participating in many clubs ranging from the Beef Club, to Square Dancing, to Cooking. I have had the chance to hold multiple positions, which has led to me being a stronger leader in 4-H and in other parts of my life. This year I chose to give back to the program that I love by participating in the Ambassador Program as Carleton 4-H Association’s first ambassador. Through this program I have the opportunity to speak with so many different individuals who come from all different walks of life.

This past weekend I had an amazing opportunity to represent 4-H Ontario in the North at an event called Food Frenzy, and by speaking to the volunteers of Thunder Bay, Kenora and Rainy River 4-H Associations.

I started off my tour of the North at Food Frenzy, an event put on by the City of Thunder Bay to educate youth about food and different programs in their community. Ontario Nature was there teaching everyone about uses of different wild plants and Roots to Harvest was there with their blender-bike. Food Frenzy was a great educational opportunity for the youth of Thunder Bay and I was so happy to have been included in the event.

The next day I met up with Matt Hill, Volunteer Support Region 1, and Andy McTaggart, Volunteer Support Coordinator, Region 5 & 6, to start our travels through the North. Our first stop was to meet the volunteers of Thunder Bay, which also doubled as their Cookie Club Achievement Day. The youth made all sorts of different goodies and performed a play on how to make the perfect batch of chocolate chip cookies. It was a lot of fun speaking with the youth and volunteers of Thunder Bay.

The next day the three of us headed to Dryden to meet the volunteers from Kenora 4-H Association. After a few hours in the car we checked into our hotel then headed out to meet them. It was a small group but I learned so much about the way different 4-H clubs are working in their Association compared to here in Carleton and about their various farming operations. The next day we traveled up to visit one of the volunteers’ beef farms and were given a tour of their operation.

Our Saturday adventure started with spending a little while at the farm with the entire Debney family, then we headed off towards Emo. After a few hours in the car listening to Matt’s music, and Andy and I trying our hardest to see a moose, we arrived at our hotel to check in. Then we headed off to meet our final group of volunteers. All the volunteers I met over the course of this trip were so amazing in their own way and this group was no exception. I learned so much from them and they were able to keep me on my toes with their questions. After meeting with them, Kim, one of the Rainy River volunteers, took us to see one of the world’s smallest chapels, which is located in Emo!

Thanks to our amazing sponsors, GROWMARK, Inc, and UPI Energy, I had the most amazing experience visiting a part of Ontario that I never thought I would be able to see. I was able to meet up with a Provincial Leadership Camp friend I hadn’t seen since camp, I saw the main campus of my university and I met so many fantastic 4-H volunteers. I had such a great time on my first adventure as a 2017 4-H Ontario Ambassador, I can’t wait to see what the rest of the year will bring for myself and my fellow ambassadors.

4-H Impact Felt In Peel

By Ryan Métivier

4-H was on full display throughout Peel Region in 2016, including the many barn quilts that 4-H members created that made their way all over the region. The Barn Quilt project was new to Peel 4-H Association in 2016. A barn quilt is an eight-foot square (and larger) painted replica of fabric quilt blocks installed on barns. Barn quilts draw attention to Canada’s rural landscapes, timber frame and family farms.

These barn quilts were created by 17 members (who made two each) between the ages of 10 and 20 years old and were on display at Caledon Town Hall, fall fairs, the Caledon library, the Alton Mill Art Gallery, at the Farm Conference at Palgrave Equestrian Park, along a main road in Brampton creating a Barn Quilt Trail and also to be included at the Canada 150 exhibit at the Peel Art Gallery Museum and Archives in 2017. The club was run again in the summer and remaining boards were offered to senior members. Achievement programs were held in both April and September where members explained what their quilts represented in their life.

After deciding to run this project, leader Carol Williams came across the opportunity to apply for a grant through proceeds from the Caledon Councillor’s Community Golf Tournament. Priority was given to organizations that would present a unique opportunity to showcase the Town of Caledon. Peel 4-H Association received funding at the completion of the project for the full amount of their proposed budget.

“Our members loved this project and many are eager to do it again,” says Williams. “Once again members gained self-confidence in themselves using new equipment and techniques and participating in the Achievement Program.”

The project gained praise in the community with responses including, “I didn’t know there was a youth group with so many members in our community,” to “what a great way to celebrate our heritage.” Peel 4-H Association inspired other community groups to apply for the Canada 150 grant so more barn quilts can be painted and the Ontario Barn Quilt Trail has also contacted Peel 4-H about their project.

One of the brightest lights in Peel 4-H Association shone on Julie French during 2016. One of 4-H Ontario’s Ambassadors for the past year, Julie represented Peel and the 4-H program across the province. The year saw her attend Discovery Days in Regions 1, 2, and 4, the Ontario 4-H Foundation Golf-West Tournament, Ambassador Sponsor Tour and UPI Charity Golf Tournament. Julie’s biggest highlight though likely came at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair where she attended the TD Canadian 4-H Dairy Classic. After showing in the dairy club for eight years, she qualified to represent her association in Toronto. While there, Julie had the honour of exhibiting the Grand Champion Calf – Quality Solomon Lust; an experience she said still seems surreal.

“This year’s Royal was such a humbling experience beyond anything I could have ever imagined,” she says. “It makes me truly realize the value of the 4-H program and all it has to offer. Hard work, patience and teamwork are all valuable lessons that 4-H teaches members.”

Success at The Royal didn’t end there though, as Peel’s team consisting of Julie, Jamie Laidlaw, Allison French, Robert Matson, Nicole French, as well as coaches Tom and Heather French claimed first place in the Provincial Go For The Gold Competition.

 

Painting the 4-H Picture

June [Thomson] Switzer became involved with the 4-H program at the age of 12. Growing up on a farm outside of Rockwood, she was actively involved in agriculture and life skills clubs, while completing over 45 projects. Among her many long lasting memories, she still remembers fondly her first meeting learning to make tea biscuits in a small farm kitchen, sewing and wearing her first 4-H dress, showing her calf and winning red, winning the Silver Dollar Competition (precursor to the Gencor Challenge and today’s version), the many bus trips, meeting other clubs and much more. Her (late) husband Craig and children, Kris and Brooke are all graduates of the 4-H program as well.

After graduation from the 4-H program, Switzer remained involved as an active volunteer. She continues today as a volunteer with Mimosa Life Skills and Poultry Clubs including the Mimosa 4-H Art Club. As a volunteer she has many memories as well such as watching a shy 10-year-old blossom over five years into a confident leader.

“Then the ultimate volunteer delight; to have a member graduate from 4-H and continue as an independent leader,” she adds.

Switzer says 4-H has allowed her to grow right along with the members. 

“I gained so much confidence and so many life skills as a member it seems only right to give back to the next generations,” she says. “When I see the members’ enthusiasm for things that I too enjoy, it is a real energizing uplift. I go home with a smile from every meeting.”

One of those things that Switzer has always enjoyed has been art and painting and creating artwork which reflects farm life. This year, she put those talents towards creating the artwork used for the 4-H Ontario Outstanding New Leader Award.

“I have loved art since elementary school when we had it last period on Friday afternoons,” she says. 

Though she enjoyed it, it was often hard to find the time between raising children, leading 4-H, attending church and agricultural society work, as well as farming and working as a full-time teacher. Switzer taught for 34 years at Erin District High School and Erin Public School. But upon retirement, she decided it was time to “play” again.

“I am delighted and honoured to think that new volunteers to 4-H will be looking at my work and just as in the painting, thinking about which projects they’ll plan for their new year.”

The painting for the 4-H Ontario Outstanding New Leader Award is titled Waiting For Spring and is described below.

The summer and fall months are filled with 4-H achievements, local fairs, as well as award ceremonies. During the winter months, volunteers are able to reflect on the past year and preparing for the highly anticipated year ahead. The “Volunteer Lives Here” signifies that a 4-H volunteer’s duty is never complete. Our volunteers work tirelessly year round and make the 4-H program happen.

L-R: June Switzer, Katelyn Donaldson (one of the 2016 award winners), Marie McNabb, Executive Member, Gay Lea Foods Co-operative Ltd.

The 4-H Ontario Outstanding New Leader Award is Sponsored by Gay Lea Foods Co-operative Ltd.

A co-operative owned by over 1,300 farmers, representing approximately 35% of Ontario’s dairy farmers, Gay Lea has been providing a wide range of dairy products to consumers for over 55 years. 

About the 4-H Ontario Outstanding New Leader Award

These awards recognize volunteers who are new to 4-H, but doing great things for youth members in their clubs. This award celebrates those volunteers who have been leaders with 4-H Ontario for less than three years.

Nominations are currently being accepted for the 2017 awards until May 15, 2017. Find out more about this award and make your nominations here.

The Ambassador Beat: Robert McKinlay

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 GROWMARK, Inc. and UPI Energy. For more info on the Ambassador program click here. To book an Ambassador for your event please complete the request form.

Submitted by Robert McKinlay, 4-H Ontario Youth Ambassador from Grey 4-H Association

My name is Robert McKinlay and I am a 2017 4-H Ontario Ambassador. 4-H has been a huge part of my upbringing with both my parents having completed the program and strongly encouraging me to take advantage of all the opportunities it has to offer. My family calves out 200 cows on our family farm near Ravenna, Ontario, raising purebred Red Angus cattle along purebred Simmental cattle and crossbreds.

4-H Calf Club has been one of the most rewarding clubs I have taken part in because I am able to both share my knowledge of the beef industry but also learn other people’s stories and gain knowledge from them. I have completed 33 4-H projects to date and can’t wait to continue my 4-H journey by taking part in both the Ambassador Program but also in being a Youth Leader with my local 4-H Calf Club.

Other clubs that I have been involved in are 4-H Sheep Club, 4-H Fall Fair Club, 4-H Ploughing Club and 4-H Mechanics Club. I have been able to take part in both livestock and life skills clubs allowing me to take advantage of many 4-H opportunities. My favourite event run by 4-H in my area is the Grey Bruce Judging Competition in Walkerton, Ontario. This event allows for members to practice their judging skills as well as having the opportunity to network with other members of the 4-H community.

Outside of 4-H I am very involved with the farm working alongside my dad and our other employees. I have been accepted to the University of Guelph for Honors in Agriculture and hope to return from school with more skills and ideas to add to the farm to help it evolve with the markets.

As an Ambassador I have been able to take part in two events; College Royal at the University of Guelph and the Durham Farm Connections Open House. At both events I have had a great time meeting with the members of the community and engaging them in conversations about what 4-H has been in the past and what 4-H will be in the future. While at these events I have also had a great opportunity to get to know some of my fellow Ambassadors. They are all truly outstanding individuals both in their 4-H careers and in their lives outside of the program. I am honoured that I get to be a part of such an amazing team of individuals and I cannot wait to see what the rest of the year has in store for us.

Region 3′s Judge It! Returns

Region 3’s Judge It! Day holds a long history in 4-H circling back to when it was run by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and was called the Peterborough Junior Day and held at the Peterborough Fairgrounds. This event has always attracted large crowds from members all across the region, sometimes on the low end with 60 members, but many times attracting over 120 members. This typically depended on where the event was hosted, as after some sponsorship ended, the nine Region 3 counties took turns hosting the event. Through an inter-region naming competition, Jane Johnson of the Durham West 4-H Association came up with the new name, Judge It!. Despite its long history, participation had been declining over the last few years and the event had to be cancelled in 2015.

In a judging competition participants are asked to judge six classes of four samples. These classes consist of the 4-H projects that were of interest in the prior year, such as livestock classes, crop classes and many others. Participants have to use critical thinking in order to decipher which sample in the class is the best, and which one is the worst. Participants have scorecards available to them to help them assess the most important features of a class in order for them to choose their top choice. They are able to take away public speaking, social, leadership and sportsmanship skills as they work as a team and compete amongst others.

Maria Davis of Durham West still holds fond memories of her time as a 4-H member at Peterborough Junior Day and is a recent member of the Durham West board.

“I really enjoyed the program and the rivalry with different members from different counties,” she says. “It was always a great time and I wanted to help make it that way again for young members.”

During a regional meeting a plan was put in place to revive Judge It! and rather than rotate it through different counties, they would keep it at the same place and date for at least five years and evaluate how attendance was effected. This proved to be extremely successful in the first year back, with over 100 members participating. The competition saw Diane Jeffs claim Top Overall Judge honours.

“I believe the event was so successful this time because as a board of volunteers we really pushed for participation from our own counties,” says Davis. “A couple of counties even had a bus hired to bring them. I think it was a great effort by parents and volunteers to get the event back on its feet that really was the success.”

Judge It! was held at the Orono Fairgrounds in Durham East County which is central to all of the nine counties in the region. The event was made shorter through the use of improved record placing technology and the fairgrounds is also a large open space with a public pool, ideal for hot days and a cool down. Held on the last Tuesday in July, this will continue moving forward to allow for better planning and promotion.

Davis says she enjoys being a part of 4-H because it was such a big part of her youth, her entire family was involved and it was something she looked forward to doing in the summer.

“I met many great friends that I still have in other counties through the various camps and competitions and I enjoy being a part of something that has such a strong history,” she says. “I enjoy being a part of Judge It! because I didn’t want to see it disappear. I have always loved to judge and think that it is such an important and fun part of the 4-H program.”

What’s The Real Dirt On Farming?

By Ryan Métivier

In 2016 the locally approved Real Dirt On Farming project continued to be popular in Region 2. Leaders Jean Sullivan and Leah Richardson-Dean of Carleton 4-H Association began the project in 2015 and in only its second year, it already doubled in size.

“I took the Real Dirt On Farming training (through Farm & Food Care Ontario) and felt the issues discussed would fit with the 4-H format,” says Sullivan. “The topics apply to youth as they are bombarded by information and misinformation on social media.”

The Real Dirt On Farming project is based around the teaching of topics such as how your food is grown, the difference between growing crops conventionally and organically, pesticide use, animal housing and animal welfare, environmental sustainability, technology used in farming and more. Last year Jean and Leah’s club touched on many of these topics by visiting a strawberry and vegetable farm to discuss farm labour, organic versus conventional foods and direct sales. They also participated in the Port of Prescott Grain Handling Tour, having conversations about grain buyers and GMO/non-GMO corn. Additional tours included learning about an anaerobic digester and manure management/stewardship during a dairy farm tour and learning about how soybeans reproduce at Central Experimental Farm. Three members attended the Centre For Food Integrity to listen to research about consumer trust.

In 2016, “soil your underwear” was introduced to provide a project to carry through the club and it was a huge success. In order to learn about soil health and the importance of soil to agriculture, members were given a pair of white cotton underwear to bury on their farm or property, with plans to dig up at a later date to examine what they could learn about soils. The club was also able to create a display at the Carp Farmers Market by stringing them up on a clothesline across the front of a small tent.

“We tried to make the conversation something that wasn’t too technical—simply that soil contains lots of microorganisms, fungi, and bacteria,” says Sullivan. “It’s these creatures that eat through the cotton in the underwear, showing us they are there and working to build soils.”

As someone who grew up in 4-H herself, Sullivan says it provided her with a positive experience and has shaped where she is and what she does today. Being involved as a volunteer has allowed her to share her knowledge on topics she cares about and to receive positive feedback from members, parents, other leaders and the community.

Kathryn Stanton, a 4-H member in Carleton, has been a part of the club for the past two years and says what she has enjoyed the most has been learning about different farm operations and furthering her understanding of the Canadian agriculture industry.

“A big part of what we learnt was how to best interact with consumers and becoming true ‘Agvocates,’ she says. “I also developed skills such as public speaking through our achievement days, one of which we spoke to the Ottawa City Council of Rural Affairs.”

As part of the Real Dirt On Farming project, each of the past two years a representative of Farm & Food Care has visited the club to provide insights into perceptions of media, consumers, protesters and others.

“Having Farm & Food Care attend our meeting was extremely helpful teaching us the ropes on how to best help tell the story and facts about the industry,” says Stanton. “One of the key things they touched on was how to have a 30 second elevator conversation, where you discuss who you are, how you are connected to agriculture, all the while keeping the topic positive and educational.”

“I think they are also gaining skills and attitudes to help them understand others,” says Sullivan. “Through participation in this club members are gaining confidence in presenting their opinions and public speaking, parliamentary procedure and decision-making skills.”

New Partnership With Beausoliel First Nations Community

4-H Ontario First Nations Outreach Summer Student Amber Bomberry (right) at the Six Nay Discovery Day event on Friday, August 12, 2016 assisting with feather decorating.

4-H Ontario is excited to be engaged in a new partnership with Beausoliel First Nations. Beausoliel First Nations is located on Christian Island on the southern tip of Georgian Bay.

In March 2016, Matt Hill, Coordinator, Volunteer Support Region 1 & First Nations Engagement with 4-H Ontario was approached by a Beausoliel First Nations Community member who, after viewing the 4-H Ontario website, recognized the value in what 4-H offers youth. This connection resulted in 4-H Ontario supporting a grant application to fund a program to engage Beausoliel First Nations youth in helping to transition to high school. The purpose of the funding application (Ontario Trillium Foundation) was to provide support in indigenizing 4-H resources for First Nations youth. The ultimate outcome of the program is to see higher high school graduation rates for First Nations youth.

The funding application was approved and Beausoliel First Nations moved forward in hiring a project coordinator. In early August, 2016, Hill along with fellow 4-H Ontario stafff member Evelyn Chambers, Senior Manager, Volunteer & Community Engagement, met with the Project Coordinator Sarah Sandy and Nancy Assance, Senior Council Staff to further discuss how to integrate 4-H resources into First Nations activities and youth program curriculum.

This initial meeting has further led to the recruitment of several community members to be 4-H volunteers. Matt Hill travelled to Beausoliel First Nations in October and conducted a 4-H Ontario New Volunteer Orientation session with several interested participants of which three followed up with applications and are working through the 4-H volunteer screening process.

The long-term goal is to implement 4-H into Professional Development Days, weekend activities and into other youth and health services offered through the Beausoliel First Nations Council. In doing so, the goal is to further continue to build success for First Nations youth.

The partnership between 4-H Ontario and Beausoleil First Nations will hopefully open doors for other First Nations communities across Ontario to realize the value of the 4-H program for their youth and communities.

 

The Ambassador Beat: Nicole French

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 GROWMARK, Inc. and UPI Energy. For more info on the Ambassador program click here. To book an Ambassador for your event please complete the request form.

Submitted by Nicole French, 4-H Ontario Youth Ambassador from Peel 4-H Association

Over the past 8 years, 4-H has been a major part of my life. It has shaped me into the person I am today. Giving me skills I will be able to use for the rest of my life. It has also given me the opportunity to meet some amazing people from across the province and make many life long connections.

Through my years with 4-H, it has given me many opportunities to expand my skill set and learn new things. The opportunity to be a 4-H Ontario Ambassador will allow me to further expand my skills and share what the program has done for me and why I love it so much!

Something that is unique about the 4-H program is its motto “Learn To Do By Doing”. 4-H encourages members to learn new things by trying them. It pushes members out of their comfort zone and into a world of new possibilities.

I can honestly say without 4-H I would never have learned how to: sew, latch hook, embroider, make balloon animals, lead a cow, grow a giant vegetable, pull a tractor, make a barn quilt, build a seed mosaic, make maple syrup, public speak, bake a pie, judge hay and the list goes on.

4-H gives members a safe place to try new things and learn from their mistakes. The mistakes that I have made when trying to learn something new, have allowed me to develop skills in patience and problem solving. Something I have learned from my 4-H experience is that you don’t always succeed on your 1st attempt, and in the case of growing a giant vegetable the 5th attempted didn’t work either. But that’s the best part about 4-H, even though I haven’t been successful in growing anything larger than a golf ball, I still join that club every year in the hopes that I will learn something new and “maybe” this will be the year to grow a giant pumpkin.

4-H has also taught me that hard work does pay off. That if you try hard enough you will succeed. This lesson can be applied to almost every aspect of your life and that is the best thing about 4-H. The life lessons you learn when at 4-H you can apply to other aspects of your life and you can use them for the rest of your life.

As a 4-H Ontario ambassador this is what I hope to achieve:

  • To inspire new member/leaders to join this amazing program.
  • To thank the volunteers and leader for all their hard work and time they have put into the program, because without them there would be no program.
  • To thank our generous sponsors for all their support and to hopefully inspire new sponsors to support 4-H.
  • To remind current 4-H members of why 4-H is an important part of their lives and that if they continue with the program it will give them a number of benefits and opportunities.
  • Lastly to inspire members to live the 4-H pledge, by continuing to learn new things, making friendships and staying loyal to them, giving back to the community whenever possible, leading a healthy life and doing this not only to better themselves but also other 4-H members, their community and hopefully the country.

The Ambassador Beat: Sadie-Jane Hickson

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 Sadie-Jane Hickson, 4-H Ontario Youth Ambassador from Kawartha Lakes-Halliburton 4-H Association

Who knew February was so short!

Anyways…

February is the month of love, and what better way to celebrate than by reflecting on my love for 4-H?

At the end of this month, we, the six 2016 4-H Ontario Ambassadors, completed our year-long term as Ambassadors and welcomed in the new 2017 4-H Ontario Ambassadors. This experience has been amazing; I have met and been inspired by so many youth and volunteers and had opportunities to further develop my skills as a leader and a team player.

With each event I attended, I grew as a 4-H’er. I had the privilege to connect with people from across Ontario. I have been introduced to new opportunities through 4-H, and I have learned so much about myself and communities that 4-H has touched! 4-H truly is a youth empowerment program. Every time I am around 4-H’ers, I am reminded of how much I have learned and how much I will continue to learn. Each day is an opportunity to give back to your community and is a chance to help develop leadership skills in those that are younger than you.

All of the wonderful-ness of the 4-H program and all of the fantastic people you meet makes it hard to leave an event. After the Ambassador reception, I can say I was very sad to leave such a positive and friendly environment. Each event I attend seems to be harder to leave; saying goodbye to people you love to be around is hard!

But that’s part of the beauty of the 4-H program; it is never really goodbye to your friends, leaders and mentors. There is always another chance to see them again. With the technology today, it is easy to stay connected. We can stay involved in each others lives and organize a time to meet up. Know from experience that there are many 4-H group chats from camps, conferences and the Ambassador program each year! There are so many opportunities for 4-H’ers to attend and to see their friends, such as Judge-It days, Go For The Gold, The Royal and leadership camps such as Future Leaders In Action (FLIA), Provincial Leadership Camp and Career Mania.

For those that love the 4-H program so much that they have attended all of the leadership camps offered in Ontario, there are still ways to stay involved and meet people. I promise that national events are just as amazing as the provincial ones. In addition, volunteer at Discovery and Judge-It Days! One opportunity I have had the privilege of attending as a 4-H ambassador was Youth Adventure Camp as a youth facilitator. I had a fantastic time; I was able to attend the camp and meet amazing leaders, but I also had the opportunity to experience facilitation! I know that I have so many great memories from silly facilitators that helped me to grow as a leader, and hope that I will be a part of other 4-H’ers memories!

So to wrap this up a bit, once a 4-H’er, always a 4-H’er. Saying goodbye after a camp or a conference is hard, but it is not hard to use the tools made available to us so that we may stay connected. The camp goodbyes are not permanent, so cheer up. Meet as many people as you can, and prepare to see them at the next 4-H event. This is something that one of the greatest 4-H mentors, facilitators and friends said to me after FLIA last March Break, and I like to remember that at every 4-H event.

Being a 4-H Ontario Ambassador has been an unreal experience. I am so thankful that I had this opportunity. I have learned so much about myself, my peers, and 4-H in Ontario. Moving forward, I will take advantage of all the new opportunities I have learned about, and continue to be a proud 4-H’er. Another 4-H friend of mine told me, “just because the Ambassador term is over, it doesn’t mean you are done being an Ambassador”. I will always represent the 4-H program to the best of my ability. Thank you 4-H Ontario, UPI Energy and GROWMARK, Inc. None of these opportunities or connections would be possible without your investments in the futures of today’s youth.

 

My 2016 4-H Project

Submitted by: Sandeep Sinha

I was not too keen, and my father was very determined to get us to the Glenburnie United Church on Feb 26, for the Frontenac 4-H Rally. I did not know what to expect and I was probably the only city kid in the Rally.

However, the 4-H folks were very friendly and we quickly got into presentations about the various clubs through which we could do our projects. I was pretty certain that I wanted to do Dairy, but I was a total novice and did not even know the difference between a Holstein and a Jersey.

I came out of the meeting with plenty of enrolment forms, information and was less anxious about what lay ahead. After the Rally, we had our first meeting of the Frontenac Dairy Club. At the meeting, our Dairy leaders explained how the competition season works, leading up to the Achievement Day and the Royal Winter Agricultural Fair. 

When we got home we got a follow-up call from Becky Lamendeau, our Dairy leader, explaining in more detail, the work that was expected out of the members and how much practice lead to achievement.

In April, we showed up for enrolment day, and I signed up for the Dairy Club. It was there that I met Natasha Abrams, my Dairy leader, on whose farm, Hickory Acres, I would spend the next six months practicing my showmanship skills with a newborn Jersey calf, named Vaida. I set up my once-a-week schedule with her for showmanship practice, for the next two months.

Once the school year got over, I entered my first competition at Shannonville. It was an eye-opener to see the amount of effort needed to prepare the calf for an event, and I got the judge’s critique, which was very helpful.

I decided to double my efforts to improve my skills, and since the summer vacations had started, I was able to go to Hickory Acres twice a week for the next two months. All that work must have helped, because when I entered my next competition at Lansdowne, I was placed in higher ranks.

That gave me a lot of confidence, and I was now in a better frame of mind approaching the Achievement Day at the Kingston Fall Fair. The Fair exceeded my expectations and I did very well, which then set me up for the Regional Fair at Metcalfe. At Metcalfe, the level of competition was higher and my calf was a bit temperamental, but I placed in the higher ranks.

So then, it was all set up for our leaders to identify which Dairy Club members would represent the best chance for Frontenac 4-H to place in the higher ranks at the Dairy Classic in Toronto. I got my call, and jumped at the chance. I was very grateful for the opportunity, because many members had put many hours into their projects, and to be selected to represent Frontenac was an honour.

So, then we went about approaching sponsors to help us pay for the expense in getting the team over to Toronto, which included hotel, meals, gear and supplies. The whole month of October was spent chasing down sponsorship and checks, as well as, getting last-minute practice.

We finally departed in a convoy for Toronto on the morning of Sunday, November 6. It was an uneventful ride and when we finally showed up at Exhibition Place, we had to do a drive-around to unload the supplies and assemble the stall, before the animals arrived on the second trailer, which was following us, a couple of hours behind.

The next two days were spent in getting the animals used to their new surroundings and keeping them well-rested, exercised, well-fed and watered. Finally, it was show-time, and I had to get into my whites to be ready to lead my calf for the Showmanship category. I was hoping that my calf would not get temperamental, and after I got into the Ring of Excellence, the next 30 minutes just went by, as we went through the presentation. The next day was similar, except this time it was the Conformation category. This time around, there were no butterflies in the stomach, since I knew what to expect, leading up to this moment. 

The next few hours after the competition were anti-climactic, but we were not done yet because our stalls had to be judged and we had to make an additional trip to the Ring for the Group of Three event. When we were done, finally, we came back to dismantle and pack the stall into our supply trailer and the animals in the second trailer. As we got on to the road to leave, I felt very sad and empty, and as the lights of downtown Toronto winked goodbye, I fell asleep.