A 4-H Icon – Bert Stewart

By Ryan Métivier

When you’re talking about someone who epitomizes everything that 4-H stands for, the name Bertram (Bert) Stewart quickly comes to mind. Bert and his family have been a part of every level of 4-H and the agricultural community throughout their lives.

Stewart is a world-renowned judge and pioneer in preparing and exhibiting dairy cattle, a mentor and coach to countless youth and tireless supporter of all things 4-H.

Stewart is the seventh of eight children born to Ernie and Jennie Stewart who owned a family farm in Peel County. Over the years each of the children, as well as their kids and grandkids have been avid 4-H members and supporters. Bert now has a five-year-old great grandson who may soon start another generation of 4-H’ers in the family. All told the family has been involved as members or leaders in Peel, Halton, Waterloo, Wellington, Bruce, Middlesex and Kent 4-H Associations, as well as in Portage la Prairie and Steinbach in Manitoba.

After graduating as a 4-H member, Bert quickly transitioned into a volunteer in Peel County before later moving to Halton County. Bert became heavily involved in dairy and judging clubs and was instrumental in starting what is now the TD Canadian 4-H Dairy Classic at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair and the Ontario 4-H Inter-Club Dairy Judging Competition.

Bert has taken a team to Madison, Wisconsin for the US National 4-H Judging Competition at the World Dairy Expo every year and says at least half a dozen of the team members have gone on to become official judges, something Bert always takes great joy in watching.

His judging experiences haven’t been limited to 4-H and North America though, as he’s had the opportunity to judge in 17 other countries around the world, with Brazil being his most frequent destination, somewhere he’s visited what he estimates was around 85 times.

“It was like a second home,” he says, of the house he once stayed in four to five times a year, where you could lie awake at night and hear the waterfalls come down the creek from 15 feet away.

He spent a lot of time down there judging and purchasing cattle and always made sure to bring a youth who had a keen interest in the industry with him to shows in Brazil.

To list all of Bert’s accomplishments throughout his career could likely fill many pages in this magazine, but he has amassed numerous awards and recognitions in the agriculture industry including receiving the Centennial Award in 1988 for outstanding service to the industry from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA). In 2002, he received the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal for his continued years of community service and in 2010 he was inducted into the Canadian Agricultural Hall of Fame. In 2012, Bert was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal by 4-H Canada. This award commemorates Canadians who have positively impacted their community and distinguished themselves as leaders.

Today, Bert has dedicated 46 years to being a 4-H volunteer and in 2006 he was awarded with 4-H Ontario’s most prestigious award, the Syngenta 4-H Ontario Arbor Award for his efforts. The nomination came from a 4-H member from one of the judging teams.

His induction into the Canadian Agricultural Hall of Fame is one memory he cherishes dearly. “It means everything,” says Bert when asked about how it feels to receive that sort of acknowledgement. “The best thing about being in the Hall of Fame was that my wife (Hazel) was still with me. 4-H had a lot to do with me being put in the Hall of Fame.”

The memory was further enhanced when his nephew Lyndon Stewart brought a bunch of 4-H kids Bert knew to the ceremony as a surprise.

In her speech at the presentation, his daughter Kelly spoke about what 4-H meant to her father and said 4-H has had a tremendous impact on their entire family and that his 4-H training prepared him for a truly great and exciting life.

Always looking to be more involved in the program, he represented 4-H as the Canadian 4-H Council President from 2005-2006, as a member of the Council thereafter and also as a Trustee on the Ontario 4-H Foundation.

“I was asked to do it, so I got involved that’s all,” he says. “And if I was involved, I was involved. I could’ve done other things, but 4-H was good to me, and I owed it to them. I’m happy I did what I did and I’ll probably still go to quite a few 4-H events in the future.”

When he says 4-H was good to him, sure he could be speaking of the countless doors and opportunities it’s opened to he and his family, or how he met his wife Hazel at a dance at the Junior Farmer’s building, but he’s also speaking of the great coaches and mentors he had as a youth when he learned from the Agricultural Representatives in his region.

Sit down and chat with Bert and you can see those are some of the things he still holds dear and wants to share with today’s youth. One of the many ways he does this is with the award he established with his late wife Hazel in 2010 for 4-H Dairy Club members in grade 9, 10 or 11. The Bertram and Hazel Stewart 4-H Dairy Youth Education Award & Bursary honours their deep commitment and passion toward agriculture, education and 4-H. The $1,000 award and bursary is presented by the Stewart family at the TD Canadian 4-H Dairy Classic during the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair as a Living Legacy gift, which Bert is able to see the impact of each year. Part of their hope for this bursary was to encourage youth in the 11-14 age bracket to continue to stay connected to the program, an age group where he says 4-H’ers often get involved with other interests.

Whether he’s talking about his days as a member himself, a dinner he recently took a past judging team member to, letters he receives from youth, events and people he’s looking forward to attending and seeing, sleeping by waterfalls in Brazil or how he once purchased a calf for $4,500 and sold her last son, a six-year-old bull for $600,000, Bert is a fountain of stories, ideas, experiences and full of passion for all things 4-H.

Lights, Camera, Action!

Telling Stories of Agriculture Through The Camera Lens

By Ryan Métivier

When you hear the name Bruce Sargent in agricultural circles, it’s synonymous with high quality video production, an entrepreneurial spirit and his company, Farm Boy Productions.

It is an enterprise that has allowed him to put his talents to work on numerous projects in the agriculture industry. However, it wasn’t that long ago that Sargent was a student at Clarington Central Secondary School, planning a career in media and showing calves in 4-H dairy projects.

Sargent, now 24, was a member in 4-H from the age he was eligible, until he graduated—only missing two years due to other commitments. With grandparents and parents involved in the program, as well as all four of his siblings, he fell in love with the program too. Today, he’s in his second year of leading the dairy club in Durham East—a club of which three of his siblings are members.

“I really like leading. It gives me the opportunity to give back to the community that raised me up and pass on some of my experiences to the younger seniors,” he says.

Sargent still counts many of his close friends as people whom he met through 4-H-—and specifically through Provincial 4-H Leadership Camp. Whether it’s friends he sees regularly, or people he connects with in the agriculture industry, familiar 4-H faces are always nearby.

Heavily involved with all things media and communications in high school, Sargent was assigned the task of creating a logo in his Communications Technology class, which would be used to brand his work for the rest of the year. Farm Boy Productions popped into his head. After being assigned a project to work with a poultry farm on creating a website and business cards, the business model slowly began to take shape.

This continued into university when he applied to the Summer Company Program, which provided more experience and a chance to put his business education to work, while still allowing for time working at the family farm. His work landed a few newspaper and TV stories, including coverage by the Ontario Farmer, which continued to open new doors.

Now five years into the business, Sargent has taken on countless projects—and the work keeps piling up. Word of mouth, networking and leveraging media at the right time have all helped to grow Farm Boy Productions into what it is today.

“The biggest thing is word of mouth,” says Sargent. “Once you make a couple of good contacts and impress the right people, their friends in the industry will call on them and say they need somebody and if you’ve impressed them and if you’ve done well, they’re going to promote you. And that happens a lot, especially since the Farm & Food Care project.”

That project was the Faces Of Farming calendar, which featured Sargent’s family in 2010. A couple of years later, with his company up and running, Sargent approached Farm & Food Care and pitched the concept of creating video interviews with those farmers featured in the calendar.

The idea took—and now sees Sargent helping not only with photography for the calendar, but also creating related videos. By scanning a QR code in the calendar, readers can view this additional media content from Farm & Food Care.

“It’s the perfect day,” he says. “You get to meet different farmers from all over Ontario and they’re all from different corners of the industry. It’s a really fun ‘I Love My Job’ day.”

Among many exciting projects, another is the Egg Farmers Of Ontario book he completed by visiting 240 farms across Ontario, doing photography and videography for their 50th Anniversary. Many of the 1,000 copies produced now sit in the hands of every MP, MPP, farmer and sponsor of Egg Farmers Of Ontario.

Each fall, Sargent also attends the Agricultural Bio Technology International Conference, typically held out west, where he conducts three video news broadcasts per day from the show.

“It’s a cool add-on to my typical video production, as I get to play a news host for the week.”

Sargent looks at many of the skills and experiences he gained from his time in 4-H as being building blocks to his success today, citing communication and work ethic as important traits to have in the business world.

“Public speaking is a hallmark of the 4-H program—and being able to present reasons or give a speech,” he says. “Those skills from speeches and debates still come through on a regular basis in meetings and presenting myself at networking events,” says Sargent.

“The work ethic is huge, because the livestock programs in 4-H and a lot of the clubs—you can’t do them unless you put 110 per cent into it and the reward you get back when you do put that effort in is definitely what I’ve applied to my business model.”

While it may seem like more and more doors keep opening for Sargent and Farm Boy Productions, that didn’t happen overnight. Sargent says he has been annoying his siblings reciting his “elevator speech” to use at networking events for years, and then working to build up contacts, a good portfolio and a name for his work.

“Entrepreneurship is really hard because you feel like you always have to justify yourself and prove yourself,” he says.

Farm Boy Productions is now a division of Glacier Farm Media. It’s a partnership born two years ago, while Sargent was on a project with Ontario Agri-Food Education at Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show. While interviewing Glacier’s publisher about jobs in agriculture, he impressed enough to be invited to meet with the company’s vice presidents later that day. After a follow-up meeting, the deal was made official the following July. It is a deal that has allowed both parties to share resources and grow their businesses.

As the Farm Boy Productions name and business continues to grow, Sargent is looking to incorporate aerial video and photography into his repertoire, to complete a documentary on farming, add to his skills force and to work with Glacier Farm Media on expanding into projects across the country.

He also hopes to use his skills and connections to help grow the profile of farming and agriculture because not a lot of people know what goes into making their food.

“I want to continue to do that any way I can going forward, because we as an industry have to do better at telling people what we do,” he says. “I really care about agriculture. It’s provided for my family and I believe in it.”

The Family Business Is Dairy

The Family Passion Is 4-H

By Ryan Métivier

Emily den Haan remembers many days spent on a tractor with her mom, cutting hay and brainstorming ideas about starting up an on-farm dairy operation.

Today, those plans have come to fruition and she and her family now sit around the table to brainstorm new products to sell at Sheldon Creek Dairy, which is located on their family Haanview Farm in Loretto, Ontario.

The den Haan name is well known in the 4-H community. John, and wife Bonnie were members as youth and have continued involvement in the program to this day. Whether it be their deep commitment to volunteering, or time spent leading the organization—John was Ontario 4-H Council President from 2012 to 2014—they have been heavily involved with all things 4-H.

“4-H has been a big part of our lives, both as members and volunteers,” says John. “The program has given us many opportunities to learn and meet new people as well as to give back by helping to develop the next generation.”

The den Haan family immigrated to the Alliston area in Simcoe County from Holland after World War II in 1953 and after three years of hard work they established Haanview Farms. Born in 1955, John was the sixth child
in his family. In 1982, he and Bonnie married and began farming together developing the Haanview Herd.

Together, their family continued to grow with four children of their own in Scott, Andrew, Marianne and Emily. John and Bonnie passed their love for 4-H on to their children. All four participated in 4-H as youth, and have remained involved in one way or another into their adult lives.

Scott has two daughters who are of 4-H age and excited to join. Andrew is a dairy judge who judges 4-H shows, Marianne has participated as a 4-H leader and Emily is currently a leader for both the South Simcoe Crops Club and the Cookstown Dairy Club.

Agriculture has always been a staple in their family and after hearing members in their community express a desire to purchase whole milk from a local farm, they built and created Sheldon Creek Dairy.

At Sheldon Creek Dairy products are pasteurized, but not homogenized. The company produces whole white milk, skim milk, chocolate milk, yogurt, labneh and cream, as well as strawberry milk and eggnog in season.

“The goal is to produce fresh, local products,” says John, emphasizing the importance consumers place on knowing the source of products. “Education about agriculture and food is also a big part of our business.”

Part of that education has come in the form of private farm tours where visitors see what the cows are fed and how they are milked. This season, two free events were planned—with Annual Day on the Farm in June, and another coming up for the Fall Harvest Festival. Local 4-H’ers are recruited to help run the events.

Keeping things in the family, their daughters are both heavily involved in the business. Marianne works for Sheldon Creek Dairy overseeing the production of various products, managing the distribution of products to store shelves and building the company brand through social media, advertising and working with service groups within the communities where they sell their milk.

The growth of the company has been built on a strong foundation, which has grown steadily over the years. The farm continues to develop, gaining new technologies to keep up with the times. Sheldon Creek Dairy was another way of adding value to the farm in 2012. The company has seen growth through a trend for consumers to source food locally, wanting to know where their food is coming from, and also wanting more whole foods.

“It is an exciting time in agriculture, where we can myth-bust the common misconceptions consumers have about agriculture and the food grown here in Canada,” says Marianne.

For Marianne, being able to advance the company alongside her family has been an amazing experience.

“When you work in a family business, everyone knows that you are all in this together and each of you work towards that common goal. We all grew up with the same work ethic, and when working alongside your family, you are a natural team.”

Emily’s main responsibilities come on the dairy farm, where she is in charge of herd care, milking, field-work and other day-to-day tasks around the farm. She’s also an Associate Sales Representative for DuPont Pioneer and has a small Purebred Shorthorn Herd, conveniently located across the road from Haanview Farms.

“We have always been a close family, my brothers and sisters-in-law included. It’s really nice to work with people who are more than just co-workers,” she says.

With three grandchildren already, allowing the next generation to become part of the business has been part of the succession plan John and Bonnie have been developing.

Their operations have also created jobs for others in agriculture, including 4-H’ers. Sheldon Creek Dairy employs six full-time and four part-time employees, while Haanview Farms employs another three full-time and two part-time.

“It has given an opportunity for students to experience agriculture as a part-time job as well as given others a full-time job in a rural environment,” says John. “As a result HR has a whole new meaning.”

“When I see 4-H on a resume, it is an automatic for an interview as I know the program prepares youth with the tools needed for success,” adds Marianne.

For Marianne, those tools to success included learning how to lead and how to let others take the lead, public speaking and how to engage an audience when making a pitch to potential customers. She also learned life skills such as cooking, sewing and learning how to be curious.

“4-H taught me perseverance and to be persistent, learning that everything in life takes work and everything doesn’t come easy,” she says. “It taught me to remember your roots and where you came from, to give back to others and to be more than just a member of your community.”

For Emily, learning how to communicate and how others communicate, as well as how to be professional yet still have fun, were skills she took from her time in 4-H that have translated to the working world.

Being able to work in a team and develop a strategy are skills John says he learned back in his own 4-H meetings.

“Those [skills], along with having the confidence to take risks and talk to customers freely about agriculture, all began through speaking in public and explaining your choices at 4-H meetings.”

John has seen first-hand the effect and benefits 4-H can have on youth with children of his own.

“4-H teaches self-confidence and decision making through judging and developing a strong work ethic by being willing to learn, he says.

The den Haan family work ethic has made their company into the success that it is today, with over 100 locations within a 100-mile radius of the company carrying Sheldon Creek Dairy products.

A Lifelong Ambassador

How 4-H Membership Turned Into A Career In Agriculture

By Ryan Métivier

Three years ago Samantha Klaver joined the 4-H Ontario Ambassador program and became one of the faces of the program throughout 2012. Already a 4-H member at the time since she was 11, she says the program definitely helped to shape who she is today.

From improving her public speaking, as well as confidence, and interview, presentation and etiquette skills, to enabling her to gain a new career, participate in competitions and meeting people of similar interests, Samantha took advantage of everything 4-H had to offer.

“I really enjoyed learning about such a broad spectrum of topics,” she says. “It allowed me to learn a little bit about so many different topics that interested my peers. Without 4-H, I would not have been able to visit some of the places I have, nor meet so many people whom I am still in contact with today.”

Samantha Klaver (far left) with her fellow 2012 4-H Ontario Ambassadors.

Samantha’s first 4-H club was Wearable Art, after hearing about it through her church bulletin and joining on her mother’s suggestion, as she had been a 4-H member herself as a child. That first club lead to many more and eventually her position as an Ambassador.

Looking back at her scrapbook, Samantha remembers the sponsor tour day, learning about other agribusinesses; the GROWMARK Annual General Meeting where she met Future Farmers of America members and farmers; visiting the Chicago Board of Trade; and, the UPI Rendezvous, where she had the opportunity to enjoy a surprise concert by Emerson Drive.

Today, Samantha has parlayed her experiences in 4-H into a career in the agriculture industry. As a Field Marketer for Hensall District Co-operative in Seaforth, Samantha works with farmers in Huron and Perth Counties, assisting them with growing successful crops, such as food grade soybeans and edible beans.

The role gives Samantha lots of variety, as she will spend some days attending meetings and training, and others on the road meeting with farmers to determine crop plans for the upcoming growing season.

The required public speaking skills were something she worked to develop during the Ambassador program.

“I have a lot more confidence in myself when speaking in front of crowds, which made my last year in 4-H the most memorable,” she says.

While competing in the Canadian Young Speakers for Agriculture Competition last November at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, she noted in her speech that without 4-H, she would not have been there speaking.

“I used to be really shy and quiet, but 4-H changed that about me and applying to be a 4-H Ambassador only seemed like the right thing to do.”

The Ambassador program also gave Samantha a great foundation to become a 4-H Leader. She took up volunteering this year, and says she looks forward to sharing 4-H with everyone she meets. This summer she had the opportunity to chaperone a group of 4-H members to the Peace River area in British Columbia.

“An organization that has literally taught me to ‘Learn To Do By Doing,’ also taught me that anything is possible as it has lead me to keep working and learning in agriculture; the industry I grew up in. I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

The  4-H Ontario Ambassador Program celebrates ten years of senior youth leadership in 2015. The Ambassador program is generously sponsored by GROWMARK, Inc and UPI Energy LP.

4-H’ers create the Calf Canopy

Written by Ryan Métivier

4-H alumni Sarah and Kevin Wolters are the proud creators of the Calf Canopy, an idea that was inspired while they were doing chores at Sarah’s family farm, Huffmandale Holsteins. The two were both born and raised in the Quinte area and have been married since the fall of 2013. Originally designing the Calf Canopy as a project to help them group-house their pre-weaned calves without taking the risk of building a new facility, they eventually realized they had a marketable product.

While working at their current work place, The Machining Center, Sarah and Kevin began working on a system to develop the product. They had the advantage of having all of the tools necessary for fabrication at their disposal. While nearing completion of their first canopy, their boss (also Kevin’s father), saw they were onto something and enlisted the company team to help in the development of the product.

“The Calf Canopy is a product that tied our two families together,” says Sarah. “The Huffman family helped inspire the idea and establish the functions required of the canopy. The Wolters family assisted us in making the canopy functional and marketable.”

Two prototypes were built (one that was compatible with three regular hutches and one that holds one super hutch), and were brought to the Hastings County Plowing Match. After some amazing feedback, they’ve also had a display at the Quinte Exhibition and Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show.

Sarah and Kevin have decided to take their ideas a step further and have started their own company, S+K Agro Solutions, to sell their product line. The company is now a division of The Machining Center.

Long before they were business partners, Sarah was a 4-H’er. A member since the age of 10 in Hastings County, she’s participated in numerous clubs and attended Leadership Camp and Judge-It Day. She’s also still a leader in the Hastings County Horse Club.

4-H can also be credited for bringing the two together, as they met at a mutual friend’s party – a friend Sarah knew through 4-H, whom Kevin knew through school. From there, Kevin also became a 4-H member when he was 20 and participated in the Hastings County Plowing and Dairy Management clubs. Today he still helps with the milkshake booth and any clubs and events Sarah is involved in.

“4-H helped me connect with other farmers and gave us a lot of valuable resources and contacts to help us get a good start,” says Kevin.

“4-H had a huge influence on me because I grew up involved in it and it helped me establish relationships within my community and all over Canada,” adds Sarah.

She also lists several skills she’s taken away from 4-H including: team building, speaking with self-confidence, leading, putting herself out there, participating in meetings and documenting key ideas.

Looking forward, Sarah and Kevin hope to continue to improve their product and develop new concepts.

“For now S+K Agro Solutions is known as the developers of the Calf Canopy, but If another neat idea comes our way, we will look into developing that idea into a product,” she says.

With a goal of being a company that comes up with ideas that are innovative, functional and adaptable, they encourage producers to come forward with ideas or custom needs that they need completed on their farms.

For more information on S+K Agro Solutions and the Calf Canopy, visit: www.themachiningcenter.com/sandkagrosolutions

Alumni Focus: Roger Pommainville

By Ryan Métivier

Roger Pommainville had a unique 4-H experience growing up in Russell County, being a part of what was one of, if not the only Cucumber Club in Ontario. With several cucumber growers nearby with contracts with Bick’s Pickles in Montreal, there were two sorting stations in the area for pickle companies. Many of these growers were involved with a lot of small producers.

“As in any other crop club, we learned how to grow cucumbers as well as visiting the grading station for Bick’s Pickles which was installed in Limoges and other growers,” says Roger.

Members also learned how to present an exhibit of around 10 mid-size cucumbers for uniformity, size and healthiness of the specimens. One of Roger’s fondest memories was winning the trophy for his exhibit in 1966, which was awarded by Bick’s.

In addition to being a member of the Cucumber Club, he was also a member of dairy and crops clubs.

Roger spent his time in 4-H during the 1960’s in a variety of roles, being involved as a secretary, news reporter and president. But his time with the 4-H program didn’t end there as he returned in the late 80’s and 90’s as a volunteer leader for his own children once they joined in Prescott County. During this time he was also a part of the Prescott County Leader’s Association. Roger was also involved as an instructor from 1972-78, when he became an Assistant Ag Rep in Russell County with OMAF–back when Ag Reps were in charge of the 4-H clubs and were the main instructors.

Roger credits the 4-H program for teaching him the skills needed for working in teams and groups, as well as helping to prepare him to give public presentations during judging, as well as meetings and leadership trainings.

“The skills learned in 4-H helped me in all the different positions I held in my life,” he says.

Roger’s life outside of 4-H has included positions as a Communications Officer with Ag Canada at the Central Experimental Farm in Ottawa, teaching an agricultural co-op program to high school students, work in OMAFRA as a milk quality and community advisor, and his current role as an interpreter at the Civilization Museum in Gatineau. He was also involved in organizing three French leadership camps held at the Alfred College from 1996 to 1999.

 

A life-changing 4-H experience

By Ryan Métivier

If you asked Karen Coutts as a child if she would one day be competing in national public speaking competitions, emceeing large events and mentoring aspiring writers and editors, she likely may have laughed at you – or maybe not.

A self-proclaimed shy kid who wasn’t confident speaking up in social settings, that slowly began to change as she became involved in many 4-H clubs. She got an early taste of 4-H while helping her mom who was a leader with a few projects before she officially joined herself in 1984 at age 12 and went on to complete 37 projects over the next six years.

“I emceed my first Achievement Night before I turned 12, because no one else in my club wanted to use the microphone,” she says. “Being part of a small club of four to eight members meant that everyone had a role to play on the executive. And when the group is that small, you know everyone, so speaking up became easier and my confidence started to grow.”

Coutts was also a leader in the Bruce County 4-H Association for seven years, serving as president for two, and association rep for five.

Delivering a Clear Writing Workshop to a group of senior managers in a local municipality

“The first time I attended a Bruce County 4-H Youth Council meeting, I brought some younger members with me from my club,” she says. “I didn’t realize that it was election day, and since I was the only person they knew, I ended up as president.”

It was these sort of out-of-club activities which also included the Regional Conference (now YAC), Future Talk and PLC, that helped her develop a new circle of friends outside of her school.

“I finally had a chance to be the me that I really wanted to be.”

Skills like how to speak in public, how to run a meeting, how to meet new people and how to have confidence in your decisions even when others disagreed with you, were all skills she didn’t even realize she was learning in 4-H, but found most helpful in pursuing and succeeding in her future goals.

Coutts has worked in many industries since, plus been heavily involved in her community with Girl Guides of Canada, local agricultural societies, and Kin Canada.

Karen displaying her Founder’s Achievement and Outstanding Zone Awards. Photo originally printed in the Walkerton Herald-Times in June 2012. Photo by Lindsay Kuglin.

As the Deputy Governor at Kin Canada for two years, she’s twice received the Outstanding Zone Award at the district and national levels. Currently, she acts as the Secretary for District One, which serves around 1,500 members, as well as being a member of the National Kin Education committee. One of her most memorable moments came in 2011 competing in the National Public Speaking Competition. Coutts took home first place at the club, zone and district levels, while claiming second nationally – all with a speech she wrote about the skills learned in 4-H.

“Seeing many fellow Kin from across the country reciting the 4-H Pledge with me was one of my favourite experiences ever,” she adds.

Her proudest accomplishment though, may be receiving in six years, what often takes Kin members 15 years to earn, the Founders Award of Achievement in 2011 for her work with Kin Canada.

Outside of her work in Kin, Coutts also holds the distinction of being recognized by the Learning Networks of Ontario as a Clear Writing Consultant and being one of only six people in the province who’s qualified to mentor people trying to become recognized as Clear Writing facilitators or editors. This stems from her role sitting on the Provincial Clear Writing Steering Committee.

Coutts is confident that 4-H has truly changed her life and has played a major role in shaping her career success.

“You never know until you try, and you’ll always be able to Learn to Do by Doing.”

Leading in the Malwood 4-H Photography Club (2004)

Coutts along with fellow members of the National Kin Education Committee

The Lasting Effects of a 4-H Experience

Hello Everyone! My name is Robyn Cox and I’m the new Communications Intern for 4-H Ontario working on a volunteer contract. I’m a recent graduate of the University of Western Ontario’s Media in the Public Interest program and I am really excited to keep you updated about the happenings at 4-H Ontario. It’s amazing to hear about the great experiences and abilities people have gained through their participation with 4-H. Last week I had the opportunity to catch up with a 4-H alumnus, Doug Osborn, and he told me a bit about his history with 4-H.
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The Lasting Effects of a 4-H Experience
By Robyn Cox

Doug Osborn is an individual who is truly admired for his community involvement and leadership skills. A devoted father with a son and daughter in their early twenties, Doug works as a leading Millwright and has volunteered for various community efforts, including being a Scout leader and a Tai Chi instructor. But for Doug it all started with 4-H.

From ages twelve to eighteen Doug participated in various 4-H clubs in Huron County, including Dairy, Beef, Farm Safety, Farm Machinery, Field Crops, and Gardening clubs. His whole family participated in 4-H; his mother was a volunteer leader throughout her life and his siblings participated in various clubs as well. His experience goes back to a time when there were only two sections in the gardening category of clubs: homemaking and agricultural. Nowadays there are a plethora of different types of gardening clubs including ones directed towards plant-life in the home, plant-life in the yard, plant-life in the field, and even landscaping.

Doug has a lot of great memories from his time with 4-H. One of his fondest memories is of his Dairy Club doing a display using barn board as the background and presenting it at the Western Fair. Shortly thereafter barn board backgrounds became all the rage in 4-H project displays.

In his opinion, 4-H has had a positive lasting effect on him because of the skills he was able to develop as a leader and a communicator. As a club member he was able to hone those abilities through leadership camps, youth leader programs, and youth exchanges. Later on, he further developed those skills as the volunteer leader of a Financial Fitness Club.

A lot of things have changed about 4-H over the years but some very important things remain the same. As he puts it, “4-H will always have a lot to offer individuals in terms of developing interpersonal skills that they will consistently use throughout their lives.” Doug is proud of his accomplishments with 4-H and feels that “it’s a great way to develop usable life skills” no matter where you’re from or what kinds of clubs you’re involved in.
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Share Your 4-H Story4-H Ontario’s Alumni program is funded through a Promotional Partnership with Hyland Seeds, including the position of 4-H Ontario’s Coordinator, Alumni Services. Hyland Seeds is passionate about agriculture and believes in supporting the people who are deeply rooted in the agricultural industry; dedication to 4-H is proof of this commitment. Thank you Hyland Seeds!

Russel Dickout’s 4-H Story

There are many service clubs and organizations who generously support 4-H Ontario year after year. We often don’t hear about these amazing contributions so I was thrilled to read Russel Dickout’s story which mentioned the Ingersoll Kiwanis Club. This Club has been sponsoring the 4-H Calf Dairy Club since 1941; that’s an amazing 71 years of support! These local clubs and organizations make it possible to provide 4-H’rs with unique Club opportunities such as field trips or Club materials. Thank you to Russel for sharing his story. It’s wonderful to see first hand accounts of how the supporters of 4-H have influenced the 4-H experience. And, of course, it’s always fantastic to read each individual 4-H story.
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A Never Ending Passion for 4-H
By Russel Dickout

My interest in 4-H started in 1937 when my older brother first became involved. I could not understand why I wasn’t allowed to join also. At that time, because of limited resources only one member from one family was allowed to participate. By the time I reach 12 years old, either the rules had been changed, or my father had enough influence to get me accepted, so, in 1941, I was on my way. At that time, the only Club in the area was a Dairy Calf Club, which was my interest. This Club was sponsored by the Ingersoll Kiwanis Club. After seventy years, this Club is still the sponsor of this Calf Club, an amazing record for a non farm organization consisting of urban people, store owners, industrialists, doctors and lawyers. Don Mackenzie, a recent graduate of O.A.C. and chemist at the local fertilizer plant, and Grant Small, an insurance agent, were the main organizers. The highlight of the 4-H year was the award banquet in November when we were entertained to a dinner and received our cash awards.

I spent eight years in the Club and never missed a meeting. I also served as President one year and was a high aggregate score winner my last two years.

I became involved in Ontario Junior Farmers, so for a few years I got away from 4-H but I took on the role of Assistant Club Leader in the late 1950′s and assisted the Kiwanians who were still leading the Club. I resigned in 1972 before our oldest daughter was old enough to join. I had seen some problems in other Clubs where the Leaders had children as Members of their Clubs, and by the I had three good young Alumni who could take over the Club and carry it into the future.

Our four children all spent eight years al Club Members and enjoyed the work and education the activity supplied. Our girls moved on in life but always cherished the experience. The girls took several homemaking Clubs as their mother had, and our son, in order to completed 24 Clubs, took some of the life skills Clubs. Our son was also treasurer of the Oxford County 4-H Association. While in this role, he instigated the Battery Blitz campaign which raised a considerable amount of money for Oxford County 4-H Association.

During this time, I did a considerable amount of judging both of 4-H and open shows around western Ontario. The young people who had graduated from the 4-H program excelled in the show ring.

A few years ago, my granddaughter who lived in the city had an opportunity to join the Bond’s Corner Dairy Calf Club and enjoyed the experience. I still try to take in as many shows as I can so my interest in showing and 4-H is very much still there.
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Share Your 4-H Story4-H Ontario’s Alumni program is funded through a Promotional Partnership with Hyland Seeds, including the position of 4-H Ontario’s Coordinator, Alumni Services. Hyland Seeds is passionate about agriculture and believes in supporting the people who are deeply rooted in the agricultural industry; dedication to 4-H is proof of this commitment. Thank you Hyland Seeds!

Anne Arksey’s 4-H Story

As part of the development of our new 4-H Ontario Alumni Program, which is funded through a Promotional Partnership with Hyland Seeds, including the position of 4-H Ontario’s Coordinator, Alumni Services, we’ve been asking 4-H Alumni across the province to share their 4-H story.

Share Your 4-H Story

Today I’d like to share Anne Arksey’s 4-H story. Anne was both a 4-H Member and Volunteer during her tenure with 4-H. Like many 4-H’rs across Ontario, the program had a big impact on Anne’s life. Thank you Anne for taking the time to share your story.

Remember, whether you are a Member, Volunteer or Alumni, we would love to hear your 4-H story. Don’t be shy, give us a call or email and tell us what 4-H means to you.

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“Learn To Do By Doing”
By Anne Arksey

My first 4-H project was sewing my own dress when I was twelve years old.  I had looked forward to my first 4-H Club with excitement since 12 was the magic age when you could join a club back in 1968 .  I attended the Minesing Club which was led by Mrs. Isabel Downey, and all of the girls were older than me.  After that first club, my mother, Mrs. Dorothy C. Giffen, and her friend, Mrs. Mabel Maw, started a club in Edenvale. Mrs. Wendy Ploeg later joined as a leader.  My sister and I went faithfully to all of the clubs, and were thrilled with the silver spoons we received at the end of each unit.  Our goal was to reach 21 units when we would receive a silver pie server (which I continue to use today!)

4-H developed a sense of responsibility, and commitment.  The expectations were high for our behavior and our attention to detail in everything we did – from our record books, conducting meetings, to our completed project.  We always looked forward to 4-H evenings – especially the ones where we learned to cook or bake and we got to sample the food!  I found that I used many of the lessons I learned in 4-H later on for raising my own family.  My sister and I both became 4-H Leaders when our own daughters were old enough to join 4-H.  I was pleased that I was able to share this with my daughter.  One highlight was when our Calf 4-H club toured ranches in Michigan and we also visited Michigan State University.

Showing my calf at the Royal Winter Fair in the Queen’s Guineas is a memory I will never forget since my white charolais calf backed in a glass door, breaking the door into many fragments, while cutting my calf’s tail.  Kind Albertan’s sewed up my calf’s tail and helped calm my nerves.

Anne Arksey

Anne with one of her 4-H calves

Taking part in the 4-H Leadership Courses was also valuable and I met people from throughout the province of Ontario.  I gained lots of friendships and experiences while in 4-H.  What a fabulous pledge to live by –  I pledge:  My Head to clearer thinking, My Heart to greater loyalty, My Hands to larger Service, My Health to better living – for my club, my community, and my country.