The Ambassador Beat: Christie Annett

4-H Helped Me Become Who I Am Today

By Christie Annett

My name is Christie Annett, I am 21 years old from the Lambton 4-H Association. This has been a pretty busy year for me with 4-H; I am a member, youth leader, leader and a 2019 4-H Ambassador. I have been in 4-H since 2007 and after 12 years I have been reflecting on my time as a 4-H’er. I am beginning to realize the impact that it has had on my life.  4-H has not only been a place for me to make friends with similar interests but it has given me the tools I needed to be successful in life.

I credit 4-H with being the place that started me down the path to finding my career in working with horses. I come from a beef and cash crop farming background but have always been far more interested in horses. My mom signed me up for the horse club my first year in 4-H. This was the first time that I touched a horse! It was an extremely memorable year for me, I showed my first horse, watched the RCMP musical ride, and learned something new and exciting every meeting! I won top member and top project that year, along with some other awards. For me, this was the beginning of an unforgettable journey.

After that first year in 4-H I took it further and started riding and competing on my own. I’ve tried out a few different disciplines to see what I liked best like: Western pleasure, dressage, jumping, before I decided that barrel racing and gaming was for me. After graduating from high school, I decided to take riding one step further and completed the University of Guelph’s Performance Horse Handler Program. I now work at Canada’s largest standardbred horse breeding facility. My favourite job is foaling out horses. Bringing an animal into the world is something truly special that I am honoured to have an opportunity to do. At work we keep the horses until they are a year old. During that first year, it is my job to break and train the babies. This was a learning curve for me when I first began because I had never dealt with horses that young and green before. I often wonder what I would be doing in my life now if I was never given the opportunity to find and explore my passion at such a young age.

Last year, I knew I had enough knowledge to resurrect the 4-H Horse Club in Lambton County (the same club started me out on my journey). I wanted to share all of the knowledge and enthusiasm for both 4H and horses, my goal was to help kids explore their interest in horses, and maybe even inspire someone with my story. I also started a club because I know how important 4-H was for me in finding out what I wanted to do with my life and how important it was for me in general. All of the clubs I have completed whether it be life skills or agriculture, have taught me something different about myself. I hope that my club gets kids excited to learn more about horses and find out what horses and the horse industry can do for them. If it’s only a club that they’re in for a year, I hope that they find that they learn something new about themselves and have fun participating.

4-H Ontario Ambassador speaks to hundreds about innovation in the future of ag

By Laura Goulding

Congratulations to 4-H Ontario Ambassador Michaella Snyder who was selected as one of the 2019 youth speakers at the Growmark Annual Meeting and Agribusiness Symposium in Chicago this August. At the “Ideas Grow Here” themed annual meeting, Michaella spoke to approximately 800 people about her experience with innovation in agriculture and the innovations she feel will move agriculture into the future.

“This was an amazing learning opportunity and I am so thankful that I was able to go and represent 4-H Ontario at such a large event,” says Michaella. She spoke about improvements that her and her family had made to the maple syrup production on their farm that improved their yield and decreased the physical labour associated with production.

To prepare for this event, Michaella worked with Growmark and a speech coach which she described as an amazing opportunity all on its own. Michaella also gave credit to the 4-H Ontario Ambassador program for helping her grow her confidence in public speaking since this past March. “I was surprised to find that before I spoke in Chicago I was not as scared as I thought I would be. I was nervous but I was also equally as excited about speaking. This was due to the wonderful support and resources that I got from Growmark and the support and experience that I had from 4-H,” says Michaella. “A huge thanks to Janice Johnson and Growmark for giving me this amazing opportunity.”

From left to right: Nic Webber, Michaella Snyder, Janice Johnson, John Johnson

While in Chicago, not only did Michaella have the opportunity to listen to guest speakers at the event and see the impact Growmark and FS has in agriculture, but she also had the chance to explore the city. Along with two other delegates from Ontario, Michaella went on an architectural tour on the river, saw the city from a ferris wheel on the pier, visited the Willis tower all the way up to the Skydeck, and ate all the deep dish pizza that she could – “a whopping two pieces.”

Michaella, you did an excellent job of representing yourself, your family, 4-H and Growmark professionally and with confidence. Congratulations from all of us at 4-H.

The Ambassador Beat: Rose Danen

 

Getting Schooled – Balancing 4-H and University

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Rose (that’s me giving you the thumbs up!) and I am one of the 2019 4-H Ontario Ambassadors. I’m also a university student and managing to be an ambassador at the same time.

I love being a part of 4-H, and last fall school got in the way of doing what I loved. With homework, assignments, and classes, I didn’t know how I was going to make time to complete any projects. I’m going to school in Ottawa which is an 8-hour train ride from my home 4-H Association and any 4-H clubs close to campus were about a two-hour drive away.

So, I made some difficult decisions. I didn’t do a single life skills club over the winter – something completely uncharacteristic of me. I chose to not participate in my local dairy club for the first time in ten years because I wouldn’t be able to train my calf as well as I’d like to, and I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to get home for my achievement day. I was most upset that I wouldn’t have the chance to go to the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto.

Senior 4-H’ers can feel overwhelmed as they start their post-secondary education, and this can influence their involvement in 4-H. I remember wondering why there were no senior members in my clubs. I would talk to my 4-H friends and they would tell me that they were facing the same challenges as me. Moving away from home and taking on new responsibilities has proven to be a challenge for many of us.

So, what can we do? Do we give up our last eligible years as a 4-Her? I think not! While this really is challenging, I know that 4-H’ers are full of perseverance. We ‘learn to do by doing’! We learn how to organize our schedules and juggle our responsibilities. It may be difficult, but many of my friends are doing both school and 4-H, and now, so am I.

Making 4-H A Priority

At some point, I couldn’t take it anymore. I would sit at ringside watching my friends show their 4-H calves, itching to jump in there and wrap my hand around a leather halter and stare down the judge. My siblings would bring home decorated cakes and barn quilts from their meetings. It was hard to watch and not be involved.

So, I decided to come back to 4-H. I decided to only do one club so that I didn’t overwhelm myself. My leaders were really understanding and helped me along the way. They gave me opportunities to make up missed meetings and were considerate of my needs. I’m also heavily relying on the support of my family to get my club completed, most notably my sister and my mother who will be looking after my calf when I return to school in the fall. And thank goodness for that extra support, because I also decided to get involved with 4-H in another big way.

Becoming an Ambassador

Last winter, I received an email from one of my 4-H mentors. “Become a 4-H Ambassador,” it said, “You’ll be good at it,”. I had no idea how I would even manage such a huge responsibility! Would I have the time? How would I get to events? But it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so I took the plunge.

I put in my application, and a month later I was sitting in front of a computer screen in Ottawa, doing an interview over video chat. The rest is history. Since then I went to the ambassador training my reading week and my summer has been packed full of events. I’m even going for a two-hour bus ride from campus to the Metcalfe Fair in the fall!

I am so grateful for this opportunity. Thank you to everyone who has pushed me to make time to be an ambassador and to FS for their sponsorship that makes the ambassador program possible. The program has already taught me so much and I’m sure there are many more lessons to come. I’ve already learned that time management is key and that you’re never too busy for the things you care about, and I care about 4-H a lot!

The Takeaway

Yes, balancing school and 4-H can be difficult, but not impossible! If you persevere and manage your time well, you can continue to be involved in 4-H. Some days it may be overwhelming, and on those days look to your community to support you. At the end of the day all that matters is that you continue to ‘learn to do by doing’ and that you love what you do!