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.

Haldimand leaders ensure all are included

Written By: Ryan Métivier

In the Haldimand Girl’s Night Out Club members partake in activities based around topics such as skin and hair care, self-esteem, bullying, exercise and fashion. They also enjoy guest speakers on these topics and have a chance to learn how to make homemade body scrubs and face masks and participate in a Zumba class.

Last year, while recovering in the hospital following an accident, one member, Charlotte Huitema, was unable to participate in some of the club’s meetings. Rather than be forced to miss out, the club’s leaders made the extra effort to alter some of the activities and include her from the hospital.

The club is run by leaders Stephanie Huitema and Kaitlynn Young. Huitema was a 4-H member from 2006‑2012 and began volunteering once completing the program and Young began volunteering in 2013.

Kate Young, Stephanie Huitema, Charlotte Huitema

“I decided to become a leader because I loved my time as a member and was so appreciative to all the leaders that I had, that I wanted to be the same type of role model and community volunteer as well,” says Huitema.

“I got involved with 4-H because I felt I could help teach kids and to be able to learn something new from the clubs myself too,” adds Young.

In order to accommodate Charlotte, with internet access and a laptop she was able to follow the PowerPoints and group discussions from her hospital bed, which worked out great so she could sign off when she needed rest. As a senior member, she was able to help define various topics during discussions to the many first-time members and explain to them the structure of 4-H and how different roles work.

“It was really nice to be included in the meetings and being able to participate when the club started,” says Charlotte Huitema. “This gave me the opportunity to ease back into 4-H and not lose a club that I was interested in. The leaders were very supportive in allowing this option for me to participate.”

Both leaders were thrilled to be able to help this member stay a part of the club, have some socialization and assist in her recovery.

Interested in finding out more about 4-H Ontario, or becoming a member or volunteer yourself? Visit our website here to find out more about signing up! 

5 Questions With… Meg Siegel

Meg Siegel may have been a part of 4-H in Novia Scotia, but 4-H is still 4-H and she has some great memories to share and took the time to submit her 4-H story. So in this feature, we look at an out-of-province 4-H alumni, who nows lives in Toronto.

Name: Meg Siegel

Status: Alumni

Years in 4-H: 12

1. Why did you join 4-H?

I’m from rural Nova Scotia and when I was a kid you either joined Air Cadets, 4-H or hung around town doing not much of anything. My parents had enrolled me in Cloverbuds from the age of six and when it came time to join a big kid group, 4-H was a natural fit. I was able to pick some projects that were relevant to my interests and some that were new to me, but things I always wanted to learn.

2. What clubs, camps, opportunities, etc. have you participated or volunteered in?

I was in the Shelburne County 4-H Club in Nova Scotia. I was the treasurer and president of the club for a short while. I went to many pro-shows, did an interprovincial exchange and went to Chat-a-rama a few times.

3. How has 4-H changed your life?

Aside from teaching me basic life skills like orienteering, cooking, sewing and just being generally handy, I think I have 4-H to thank for my success in my career. I now work in advertising in Toronto and use skills that I learned in 4-H on a day-to-day basis. From presentation skills and public speaking to judging (aka giving feedback), when I think about it, these were the skills I have been working on since I was a kid.

4. What’s your favourite 4-H memory?

In 4-H I won an exchange trip and went to Alberta for 10 days to stay with another 4-H member (who in turn came to Nova Scotia). It was my first time travelling solo and it gave me such a great sense of independence. It still has been my only time out West and I plan to change that and perhaps to get in touch with the family I visited when I was 16.

5. What do you do outside of 4-H? (hobbies, school, career, etc).

Now I’m pretty busy working in advertising on clients like Nike. But outside of work I’m big into cycling and I love getting away from the city for the weekend to go camping when time permits. I also love bringing new Toronto friends back home to the farm in Nova Scotia.

Liked Megan’s story? Want to share your own 4-H story? Click here and tell us what 4-H has meant to you in our 5 Questions With… feature!

Success For Team Canada In UK

By: Ryan Métivier

This past April, Northumberland 4-H’s Hailie Conley was part of Team Canada travelling to Malvern, England to participate in the Young Show Stars Beef Competition. The team brought home second place. Canada’s squad was the only one invited from outside of the United Kingdom. They gained the spot with their performance at the 2014 Royal Agricultural Winter Fair.

The team included Conley, Reserve Grand Champion Showman, fellow Ontarian Courtney Walker of North Simcoe County, Reserve Grand Champion Intermediate Showman, and Jack Oates of Brome County, Quebec, Grand Champion Showman.

Now in her fifth year of 4-H, Conley says she had some trepidation leading up to the competition, knowing they only had 24 hours to get the heifers accustomed to them and ready to show. The experience of meeting new people, learning the different ways they prepare cattle, show and live were things she’ll never forget.

“I learned a lot about myself on this trip! I learned that I was able to do things that I would never have thought I could do like fit most of a heifer by myself,” says Conley. “As the youngest one on the team, I was a little nervous because I didn’t have the experience fitting that the others have.”

However, Conley had the encouragement of her teammates, and says the group came together to bond quickly.

“The team was awesome and I couldn’t have asked for anyone better to travel and share this amazing experience with,” she says. “We all had different skills that we brought to the table and weaknesses that we worked together to help each other out with.”

This summer Conley is excited to learn more, as she has moved to Eby Ranch in Kansas to learn new techniques and to show her 4-H heifer at the Angus Junior Nationals.

Giving Back To Today’s Youth

By: Ryan Métivier

The TD Canadian 4-H Dairy Classic is a longstanding event at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto, with many enthusiastic participants competing each year. Interestingly, this event came to fruition in part because of the efforts of 4-H alumnus John Mayes.

In the mid-1970s, Mayes agreed to initially fund the project, while supporting Bertram Stewart and Bill Edelstein to get the initiative going. The show originated as the Hays 4-H Classic.

“I thought that it was a great opportunity for dairy
4-H members from across the country to interact on our most important dairy cattle show stage in Canada,” says Mayes.

Being able to see his son participate in the event in the 1990s made the event even that much more special.

Mayes is a big proponent of involving youth in meaningful activities where they can interact constructively and strive to achieve through their own efforts, so it came quite naturally for him to have a hand in setting up the Classic.

“It has been a lifelong passion of mine to help young people in agriculture or business to set goals and achieve them. Whether it’s training a calf to lead or starting your own business, important life lessons are created,” he says.

Mayes was a member in 4-H in the late 1950s and early 1960s in South Simcoe County, completing his clubs in Cookstown. His clubs spanned a wide range of interests including 15 clubs in beef, swine, grain and displays (demonstrations). He also attended 4-H Leadership Camp to represent South Simcoe.

Though Mayes’ 4-H club participation was interrupted when he went to the Ontario Agricultural College (OAC) for two years, he was quickly back with 4-H as a Summer Assistant Agricultural Representative with OMAF, where he was responsible for coordinating the 4-H programs in Norfolk County and South Simcoe during the summer. His responsibilities included supporting club leaders in meetings, conducting project visits and assisting with the County Judging Competition and Achievement Days.

Upon completing his Masters in Business, Mayes joined CIBC in 1972 as the first Agricultural Specialist for the bank in Ontario. He was tasked with assessing farming businesses on site and providing advice to the bank and his clients.

Throughout his 38-year career with CIBC, Mayes developed the Bank’s Professional Edge program for dentists and doctors. He managed a group of 30 branches with nearly 500 employees on the western side of Toronto. At the time of his retirement he was responsible for building an automated credit scoring model that complied with Basel Accord on risk management.

In keeping with Mayes’ love of supporting youth, he is proud to have been a part of supporting the Association of Collegiate Entrepreneurs (ACE). With chapters at university campuses across Canada, they encouraged young people to start their own businesses while still in school. Mayes would go on to be a director with ACE for a number of years.

Mayes’ time in 4-H taught him the importance of self-reliance and hard work and are attributes he firmly believes helped him in his career.

“Working cooperatively with others and public speaking were important skills I developed working on 4-H display projects and at Leadership Camp,” he says. “Some of the friendships I developed during 4-H have lasted a lifetime.”

Now retired, Mayes has kept busy by becoming a mentor for the Canadian Youth Business Foundation, helping young people to start their own businesses. These efforts were recognized in 2012 with a Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medal.

This Couple Is Completely Fore 4-H

Written By: Ryan Métivier

If you’ve ever attended one of the Ontario 4-H Foundation Golf-East tournaments, you’ve most likely seen and had the pleasure of speaking with a couple of friendly 4-H faces in Gib and Elsie Patterson.

As owners of Anderson Links Golf and Country Club, the Pattersons have hosted the tournament in Ottawa for the past eight years — right from its beginning.

The couple both partook in 4-H as members, and credit 4-H for bringing them together into what has turned into 52 years of marriage.

Elsie, who is originally from Tweed, Ontario says her sisters and her whole family were involved in 4-H when she was young. Her mother was a leader as well.

“We’re country people and a farm family. 4-H was a family and it was an outing for us from the farm,” Elsie explains.

Growing up, Gib’s farm was not too far from where Anderson Links sits now, close to the Ottawa airport. When his older brother turned 16 and got his driver’s license, they began attending 4-H meetings.

“4-H was one of the best clubs or organizations for young farm people at the time,” he says. “I think it
still is.”

So after joining 4-H in 1954, the following year the brothers were lucky enough to win a trip to National 4-H Club Week, where they represented Ontario in judging potatoes for 4-H competitions.

“We went to the Royal Winter Fair and we were very happy to come out as the winners. We even beat the team from Prince Edward Island. We were happy about that.”

Elsie adds a few more memories about the many trips and exchanges she took part in as a youth, and also about the friendships she made, some of which have been lifelong. “It was meeting the people — meeting young people our age from all over Ontario — that  I remember most.”

Elsie reflects on a friend her brother met from England, which her family got to know very well.

“All these years my mother had kept in contact with him and we still go back and forth with him,” she says. “He’s 84 now and his son is in Manitoba. Every spring or fall he comes to see his family and he always makes the trip to Belleville to check in on my family. It’s been a wonderful experience.”

But despite the many memories they both share of their time as 4-H members, Gib concedes that meeting Elsie was definitely his biggest takeaway.

Working in the summer of 1959 as a summer assistant in Frontenac County with a gentleman who had actually been his 4-H Ag Rep when Gib was a 4-H’er, Gib was able to use the connection to land the Assistant
Ag Rep position for Hastings County after he graduated college.

Hastings includes the Tweed area, where Elsie was the secretary in the agricultural office. Decades later, the couple have four kids who have all been through 4-H, plus 12 grandkids, of whom two are also involved in the 4-H program.

Gib led several clubs such as golf, plowing and forestry clubs, but outside of 4-H, he says he loves to teach and was a teacher for nine years in high school. He has an interest in young people and likes learning and staying curious. It is this that he tries to teach to the staff at the golf course.

“I teach them to be curious. To keep your head on a swivel and keep moving. See what’s happening and try and understand why things are happening. I call it the game of life. You never have to work when you play the game of life.”

That curious nature is likely what helped to get the ball rolling on starting up the Golf-East Tournament.

During a Queen Of The Furrow competition in Peterborough County where Gib was judging, Lyndon Stewart, a former 4-H Ontario Executive Director, was also the emcee. “That night they were in our little cabin and Lyndon and Gib talked half the night and Gib said if you can have a tournament in Guelph, then why can’t you come east?” explains Elsie.

Anderson Links is the Patterson’s third golf course. Gib opened his first golf business in 1971 on the farm they bought from his father, which his grandfather originally bought in 1901. Their first golf course, Emerald Links of Manotick, opened in 1990. This was followed by Cloverdale Links in Winchester in 1996, and then Anderson Links in 2007.

The Pattersons also own a driving range and mini putt facility in Orléans. Gib has his broker’s license and is a developer in real estate, although he’s since passed the torch of building homes onto their son, who built the very clubhouse 4-H golfers meet in at Anderson Links. The family has also built three subdivisions around their Emerald Links course.

Eight years into the Ontario 4-H Foundation Golf-East Tournament the Pattersons are happy to see the 4-H system still carrying on each year when they host the tournament. If you’re ever in the Ottawa area and looking to hit the links, be sure to keep an eye out for Gib and Elsie, who are always happy to share 4-H stories and memories.

Outstanding 4-H alumna begins her career

By Ryan Métivier

4-H is many things for many people and for Stephanie Huitema from Haldimand County, it proved to be a huge stepping stone in landing her current job as Marketing Coordinator at Erie Mutual Insurance.

A 4-H member from the time she was 16, up until she graduated from the program, Stephanie was a part of many clubs including sewing and quilting, cooking, baking, lifestyle, sheep, goat and many more. Stephanie was also a participant in yearly judging competitions, as well as the Go For The Gold (GFTG) competition. As a GFTG competitor, she went to Regionals three times, where she won twice, and also twice went to Provincials, placing fourth in 2010 and fifth in 2012.

In her graduating year of 2012, Stephanie was named Outstanding 4-H Member for the year, something she was honoured to be acknowledged with.

“What a great way to finish my career. I was speechless and remember not making any sense when I was thanking and accepting my award,” she says.

This past year, she was also given the responsibility of hosting the 2013 banquet.

How she went from accepting this award, to working for Erie Mutual, came from a newspaper article her now boss, read about her winning the Outstanding Member Award.

“My boss went on to ask the staff if anyone knew me. A friend from public school who also works there said she knew me and went on to email me and tell me to bring in my resume,” she says. “I went from two part-time jobs, to the stability of a full-time position and I am so grateful to work at a company that supports agriculture and 4-H. It is a very community-minded company.”

Stephanie says 4-H helped her career by giving her confidence, life skills, leadership qualities, and life-long friendships. It also helped in getting her name out there in the community.

“What I have enjoyed the most is the process of 4-H,” says Stephanie. “I started out so young and received help from older members, and over the years I saw myself transition into one of the older members that helped the younger ones.”

Even after graduating from 4-H, Stephanie remains connected and active in the 4-H community with three siblings and two cousins as members, and her mom as a volunteer and leader. Today, Stephanie is in her second year of volunteering and is looking forward to leading her first club this spring with one of her co-workers – also a 4-H volunteer. The club is called “Girl’s Night Out” and teaches young girls about self-esteem, confidence, the importance of healthy eating, as well as body and hair care.

Which 4-H Recipe Do You Still Use?

4-H Ontario is in the process of creating an 4-H Ontario Alumni program to reconnect 4-H Ontario Alumni to 4-H. There are so many amazing memories and stories that have evolved over 4-H’s long history and we want to be able to rehash these moments and share them with current and future 4-H’rs. As part of our initiative to connect with Alumni, we’ve created postcards that dive in to each Alumnus’ favourite 4-H memory, favourite recipe, and many other 4-H topics. For this blog post, I’d like to share an Alumnus’ response to the postcard that asked “Which 4-H recipe do you still use?” This recipe has been enjoyed by many across multiple generations so I’m excited share this 4-H favourite.
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Which 4-H Recipe Do You Still Use?
By Joan, Temiskaming 4-H Alumnus 

Recipe Card
Collecting 4-H memories

“I took part in my first homemaking Club unit ‘The Club Girl Entertains’ when I was 12 in 1946. During that unit we were given a recipe book with many recipes in it that we tried making during the unit. Several have been favourites over the years. They were easy to make, tasty, and required items found in my family’s cupboard.

Cocoa Paste
Mix 1/2 cup cocoa poweder and 3/4 cup white sugar. Add 1/2 cup water. Stir thoroughly and cook in a double broiler for a least 30 minutes until the mixture is smooth and well blended. For hot chocolate, add milk until desired flavour is reached. Serve. For chocolate milk, once milk is added, allow mixture to cool and store in fridge.

I can’t begin to count the number of gallons of this our family made and served to friends in Junior Farmers, 4-H, Young Peoples and to friends gathering together to celebrate special occasions. Everyone always enjoyed it and still do.”

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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!