Ken and Marie McNabb: Members, Volunteers, Business Owners & Mentors

By Ryan Métivier

Farming, agriculture and 4-H have all been key pillars in the McNabb family their whole lives. Both Marie and Ken grew up on farms and were both 4-H members as youth. Marie has spent time consulting with farmers during her time working for the Ministry of Agriculture and Food for 13 years. Today, she serves as a Director for Gay Lea Foods, while also doing the bookkeeping at the family farm.

That family farm began with the dairy farm Ken grew up on in Halton County. Ken

would go on to eventually purchase the farm from his parents and he and Marie would form a partnership when she stopped working full-time off-farm.

Today they call the more rural Waterloo County home, after shifting their herd from a tie stall barn into a milking parlour and free stall in 2005.

“We felt that dairy farming would be transitioning towards milking parlours and robots in the future,” says Ken. “In 2015 we built a new dairy barn with a couple of milking robots and have grown from there, now milking 75 cows.”

Overall they crop 271 acres providing all the roughages for their herd and selling IP soybeans and winter wheat.

Marie has seen many changes in the agriculture industry over the years saying things are becoming increasingly high-tech, with monitors, robots and automatic calf feeders. With new technology and science, farmers are learning to use their smart phones in the field and social media as a way to reach out to consumers.

“It [social media] can be a method of answering questions about everyday activities on the farm, connecting the dots and carrying out conversations with people who truly want to learn about all types of agriculture,” she says.

With the University of Guelph stating there are currently four jobs for every graduate, Marie would highly encourage youth to consider the industry that encompasses farming, the food industry and suppliers.

Both Marie and Ken would also strongly recommend youth being involved with 4-H. Marie was a member for seven years in Oxford County completing dairy, homemaking and garden projects, as well as attending the 15 Year Old Conference. Ken was an eight-year member in Halton County, enrolled in dairy, crop, tractor and judging clubs. He also attended the 15 Year Old Conference, Provincial 4-H Leadership Camp and was chosen to go to the American Youth Foundation Leadership Training Camp.

Among the many things they appreciate from their time in 4-H, are the great mentors they had the opportunity to learn from. Ken remembers fondly his Ag Rep Henry Stanley, as well as his neighbour and leader Jeff Nurse whom he later co-led with. Marie was able to learn through her mother and also Sharon Hart during her time in homemaking clubs.

Now, they are mentoring today’s 4-H members including Noah and Olivia Lichti who have participated in clubs lead by the McNabbs.

“Ken and Marie are very passionate about 4-H,” says Noah. “Ken has helped me a lot with judging and showing my dairy heifer.”

“They are very knowledgeable in what they do and their enthusiasm is contagious,” adds Olivia.

Both came from 4-H families and have decided to continue their 4-H careers as volunteers and leaders after their time as members.

“I think as a volunteer I’ve always enjoyed working with the younger kids and I’m trying to pass on some of the knowledge and skills that I learned through 4-H,” says Ken.

“My reward in volunteering is seeing a child develop, grow, take chances and want to try something new; watching the quiet person coming out of their shell from the beginning of a club to the end of the club,” adds Marie. “Many times I have heard it said that 4-H develops life-long friends. We try to enhance that.”

Another youth, Philip Cressman, has been a dairy member for three years and has shown a calf from the McNabb’s farm each year.

“They are helpful and give me lots of tips on how to prepare and show my calf at the Elora show and the New Hamburg Fair,” he says. “Ken and Marie are very passionate about 4-H. I look forward to going to 4-H meetings and learning about calves. They have welcomed me into the 4-H world with open arms.”

Mentoring and leading just seems to run in the family as each of their oldest and youngest sons, Colin and Liam began volunteering while only 18 and still members themselves.

Marie sees so many ways youth can benefit through the 4-H program. She lists judging, communication, public speaking, leadership, teamwork financial management and cooking—to name a few of the skills youth will develop.

“There is a certain amount of competition in 4-H. It doesn’t matter where young people will go in life they will compete; whether it’s for a job, a spot in a program at university or college or an apprenticeship,” says Ken. “The skills that members learn when judging in our clubs are teaching them to make decisions and by giving reasons they learn to defend their decision.”

The Ambassador Beat: Evan Jenkins

The 4-H Ontario Ambassador program provides youth with advanced level training in leadership, citizenship, communications and public relations. Ambassadors put their energy and 4-H experiences to work recruiting new members and sharing the 4-H story. Throughout 2018, each of 4-H Ontario’s Ambassadors will submit blog entries about their experiences in the program. To book an Ambassador for your local event click here. The 4-H Ontario Ambassador Program is sponsored by FS.

Submitted by Evan Jenkins, 4-H Ontario Youth Ambassador from Elgin 4-H Association

Halfway Done but More to Do!

As August comes around, it marks the halfway point of the 4-H Ontario Ambassador term. In my mind, this is a perfect time for reflection. Through this first half of the term, I have met and spoke with many people, gone to numerous events and seen various parts of Ontario. With these thoughts in mind I figure I will share some of the highlights so far.

Being a 4-H Ambassador you must have good communication skills that can help in your travels and share your experience in 4-H. Some people I talk to are current 4-H members and volunteers that share their experiences with me as well. These experiences can range from talking about the different clubs they offer to talking about how excited they are for achievement day. The other people I talk to are members of the public who have questions about 4-H in their area or are 4-H alumni that share experiences from their days in 4-H. I have also had many people react surprisingly when they hear 4-H is still going!

Since many of the events aren’t local, driving is a key part of the position. Many events can be as far south as Essex County to as far east as Prescott County. Driving can be the worst part of going to an event, but you can use the time you have driving to think of an impromptu speech or to get mentally prepped to speak in front of an audience. The best part of driving is getting to an event and being mentally and physically prepared.

Now, I had thought I had seen all of Ontario, but I have proven myself wrong through this first half of my term. I had only seen what had interested me like the big cities, landmarks and notable towns. I have now broadened my view to see the different cultures like eastern Ontario where French is the primary language – which was a difficult time for me since I gave up learning French in Grade 9. It has also made me recognize that every small town feels like home! Staying with fellow Ambassador Mélissa Brisson’s family in Embrun while attending Golf-East had me feeling like I never left Belmont!

After reading through this I see that there have been many memories made, many miles driven and many small towns I want to go see again. Most people say that you make lots of friends in 4-H, but I tend to say that I don’t make friends in 4-H, I make new family members for my 4-H family!

Making Ontario Proud

Sudbury’s Wayne Macdonald is 4-H Canada’s National Volunteer of the Year

By Ryan Métivier

Wayne Macdonald has spent years engaged in his  community. A soccer coach for over 15 years, 25-year member of the Knights of Columbus, associate member of the Legion of Canada and executive board member of the Westmount Playground Association – Wayne has enriched the lives of many youth and adults while volunteering.

However, he had never been a part of 4-H. A Cubs and Scouts member as a youth, it wasn’t until he married his wife Paulette in 1986 who was a 4-H alumna in Renfrew County, that he was first exposed to the program. In 1988 he helped her start a 4-H club in Arnprior and has never looked back.

Nearly 30 years later Wayne and Paulette have led clubs in almost every category of project available. That commitment to developing youth in 4-H was recently acknowledged at the 4-H Canada Annual General Meeting in June where Wayne was named National Volunteer Leader of the Year.

“Our philosophy is to offer projects each year that touch on certain key areas of 4-H in order to provide a well-rounded experience for the members,” he says.

Wayne is also the Vice-President of the Sudbury District 4-H Association, while also volunteering as the Awards Coordinator, Webmaster, Screening Committee member, for several years as the Region 1 President and throughout all levels of Go For The Gold.

Wayne feels the biggest takeaway youth get from 4-H is confidence and personal development.

“Since the hands-on lessons and experiential learning is so positive, the members can go out in life and use these skills immediately, no matter their age,” he says. “This strengthening of character is vital; after all, we are growing society’s future leaders.”

Wayne truly believes in the 4-H motto, ‘Learn To Do By Doing’ and enjoys sharing his life experiences with the youth in 4-H. By embodying the 4-H motto and living the 4-H values, he believes both he and Paulette help members to become more confident and better equipped to excel in their lives, while also being better and more compassionate citizens.

“The beauty of our ‘4-H relationship’ is that there is Wayne, there is me and there is ‘us’,” says Paulette. “This is why I have enjoyed volunteering over the years and still feel so passionate about my involvement. We give each other space to be ourselves yet we have a consistency and a style that is ‘us’! We learn, we grow, we enjoy and we receive so much from the members.”

Paulette believes Wayne’s authenticity and joyful demeanor allows members to feel safe, accepted and free to be themselves and grow.

These sentiments were on full display in Wayne’s nomination for the National Volunteer Leader of the Year Award. In her letter of nomination, 17-year-old Youth Leader Meaghan Ethier said Wayne makes the community a better place simply by being a part of it.

“He has an infectious positive attitude that encourages us as youth to be better people,” she says.

She continues to say Wayne is an amazing role model in Sudbury and has had a huge impact on all members of their club.

“Wayne is a lot more than my 4-H leader. He is an example of the kind of person that I want to become.”

To receive the award was quite the honour for Wayne and something he was shocked to find out, as he was unaware of the nomination.

“Being honoured for what you do in life is amazing,” he says. “Being honoured for volunteering your time and skills is amazing. Being honoured by the youth you share the 4-H program with is a gift of a lifetime.”

4-H At Work in the Community

Submitted by: Christine O’Reilly

While I have always credited 4-H for my personal development (specifically in public speaking and leadership skills), I never realized the impact 4-H has at a community level until my final year of university.

During the last meeting of the school year, the OAC Beef Science Club invited a lecturer from the veterinary college to talk about his involvement in the recently updated Beef Code of Practice. As he packed up his laptop and projector, we moved on to the business of electing a new executive to carry on the club’s activities the following school year. Part way through elections, just as he was about to leave, our guest speaker politely interrupted the proceedings.

“I just want to say that I’ve been the faculty advisor for a number of student clubs in the vet college, and I’ve never seen a group of students that knew how to run a meeting so well.”

As a group, we were momentarily stunned. But I looked around and realized that the majority of students sitting in the room had been (or still were) 4-H members or Junior Farmers. The beef club never thought they were doing something unusual because all of the Aggie clubs were run that way. Thanks to 4-H, an entire college community of students knows how to run meetings. It’s a small thing that helps makes that community strong.

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.

The Ambassador Beat: Brooke Thompson

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 2014, 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 Brooke Thompson, 4-H Ontario Ambassador, York 4-H Association

I have had so much fun engaging in different events so far this summer and I am really enjoying my time as an Ontario 4-H Ambassador. I have had the privilege to go to many more events since the last time I blogged. I have since been to Sunderland’s Maple Syrup Festival, a York 4-H fundraiser and barbecue, Markham Youth Forum, Region 3 Discovery Day, the UPI Energy Annual Invitational Golf Tournament, the Ambassador Sponsor Tour and the Junior Dairy Show in Orono. I have had a blast being able go to all of these events meeting new people and sharing lasting experiences within my role as a 4-H Ambassador.

The 4-H Ambassador program has given me the advantage to further my knowledge within 4-H allowing me to experience and see things that I would have never seen without this amazing opportunity. Learning about maple syrup, helping with a beef show, playing games with junior 4-H members, running a mini putt activity at a golf tournament, touring co-ops and learning about our sponsors GROWMARK, Inc. and UPI Energy LP, and helping young 4-H members show their calves have been many of the highlights to my summer so far. It is always fun seeing familiar faces at 4-H related events as well as promoting 4-H to new people within the communities that I have visited around me.

I am looking forward to what the rest of my 4-H Ambassador experience has in store for me. I have more events coming up this summer that I am eager to get to! I want to personally thank all of those who have requested a 4-H Ambassador to participate at their events that they have planned. It has been both an honour and a privilege to be a part of the various events representing 4-H and making memories that will be cherished forever.

A Discovery Days 4-H Story

4-H Ontario has a variety of camps and conferences that provide Members the opportunity to explore 4-H outside of their local association. From Discovery Days to the Sen$e Suite, there is an opportunity for every junior, intermediate and senior Member to explore.

4-H’r Paula Belliveau is a big fan of Discovery Days. Paula has been a 4-H Member for three years and has attended Discovery Days each year. She was kind enough to share her 2011 Discovery Days experience with us. Read on to learn Paula’s Discovery Days 4-H story.

Interested in attending Discovery Days this year? More information including dates, times and registration details, can be found here >

___________________________________________________________________________

My Discovery Days Story
By Paula Belliveau

On Saturday May 21st, 4-H Discovery Days was held. This event is for children 9—13 and each 4-H Member can bring a buddy, The theme of 2011 was “Have a Ball”, and the event ran from 9a.m. to 3p.m. There were six stations in total. The stations that were included were: Dart board crafts, four class judging, volleyball ice breakers, bovine jeopardy, sports Go For The Gold, and paint ball. For lunch, the group enjoyed pepperoni or vegetarian pizza, chocolate of white milk, apples, and carrots.

Discovery Days Group Shot
2011 Discovery Days Region 4 South group shot

For the crafts section each team took turns making a dartboard. We used different floored pieces of felt to make different score sections and markers for designs. Instead of darts, the object thrown at the board would be a hallow golf ball with Velcro stuck on it. When the Members finished making their craft they would play with it until every one at the station was finished. Then they put their crafts in a bag that they would take home at the end of the day.

The next activity was judging. Here, there were four classes to be judged. The classes included activity balls, chocolate covered granola bars, pretzels and calculators. Each person would place each class, but only give reasons for two of them.

Judging at Discovery Days
Discovery Day participants judging pretzels

My favourite activity were the icebreakers. The first game we played was a memory game where you had to give your name, your hobbies, what county you were from, and what you favourite Clubs were. After every one had said something about themselves you had to choose someone and repeat what he or she said.

We then played volleyball. Each team had to keep their foot on the mat and pass the beach ball three times before hitting it over the net.

Of course like every other Discovery Days the Members also played Jeopardy. The categories included: 4-H is 4 You, Know You Cows, What Goes In, What Comes Out and more. Here, each team broke into two groups, and they had to face each other. Another traditional activity we played was Go For The Gold. The different modes were multiple choice, short answer, who, what, or where am I, and one on one. This year of course, was mainly about sports.

The special activity this year was paint ball. We learned what types of games you could play in paint ball such as capture the flag. Zombie village, World War 1, and much, much more. We then took turns shooting a rusty metal target named John, which had a orange smiley face on it. When every team had finished at each station, we all had a relay obstacle course. It had skipping with a hool-a-hoop, spinning around a pool noodle, and filling up a bucket with a sponge full of water. Then all the kids and Leaders came together for a photo and the day was over. Even though this was my last year for Discovery Days, next year I can look forward to new and different camps.

Paint ball at Discovery Days
After shot of “John” post paintball fun

Paula has been a 4-H Member for three years. She has completed 12 projects including Foods, Judging, Conservation, Scrapbooking, Horse, A Sporting Chance, and Toastmasters, just to name a few. 

Happy Valentine’s Day! Let’s celebrate with a 4-H Love Story

It’s Valentine’s Day and that means love is in the air.  The grocery stores are filled with pink and red candies and chocolates, card stores are bursting at the seams with quirky and sentimental cards, and 4-H Ontario is celebrating by sharing a 4-H Love Story.

Yup, you heard read that right, a 4-H Love Story. I will confess, ever since I started working for 4-H Ontario I’ve been waiting for the right moment to share a 4-H Hollywood like love story because there are so many of them! Call me a hopeless romantic but I just can’t help it. Nothing gets me going more than a real life romance.

Today I’m going to share the story of Beth and Scott Wilson. Beth was gracious enough to chat with me and share their 4-H story so thank you Beth. Their story warms my heart, and I hope it brings you a little 4-H joy as well. Happy Valentine’s Day from all the staff at 4-H Ontario!

_____________________________________________________________________________

Beth and Scott met at 4-H Ontario’s Provincial Leadership Camp in March of 1987. At this time, there was a waiting list for Provincial Leadership Camp so they had to pass through an interview process to be chosen to attend. Lucky for the two of them, they were both selected. Because Beth was from Carleton West and Scott was from Durham West, their paths definitely wouldn’t have crossed otherwise.

Beth and Scott became great friends at Provincial Leadership Camp. “4-H was our common ground and it was the thing that brought us together,” Beth explained. Beth and Scott both made a bunch of other friends at camp that week and everyone promised to stay in touch after returning to their hometowns. And of course, that’s exactly what they did.

So Beth and Scott returned to their respective homes and they wrote letters back and forth to keep their friendship going. Scott would occasionally be in Beth’s hometown for work (he bought Heifers) and when he was, Beth’s family graciously gave him a place to stay. Their friendship grew stronger and they continued writing to one another, occasionally seeing each other, for five years! How cute is that?

Now, I would suspect from how the rest of this story unfolds that Scott had a secret crush on Beth. One day, after Beth recently broke up with her boyfriend, Scott asked her to accompany him to a cow auction in her area, Beth, happy to spend time with her friend, obliged. After spending a great day together, which included acquiring two Heifers, Scott turned to her on their drive home and asked her to go out with him.

“This totally caught me by surprise!” shared Beth. “Of course, I said no at first because we were good friends and I didn’t want to ruin our friendship.”

Scott, being the persistent fellow that he is, told Beth she had one week to think it over and he would ask her again at that point. This is where my secret crush theory comes in. His perfect timing and persistence totally leads one to think that he was pinning for her these past few years and was just waiting for the right moment.

Anyways, a week later Scott was back in Carleton and Beth, after thinking long and hard about this situation, made a bold move of asking him out to dinner. Fast forward ten months later, and they’re married! Beth and Scott will be married for 20 years this year and they have three amazing children together.

“We’re very thankful that 4-H was able to bring us together. I just can’t imagine being married to anyone else other than my best friend,” Beth said.

4-H Ontario Alumni Profile: Right Time, Right Place

I recently had the pleasure of sitting down and chatting with 4-H Ontario Alumnus Brian Carscadden. Brian is a Sire Analyst for Semex and he’s actively involved in about a million different judging opportunities. Ok, maybe a million is a bit of an exaggeration but you catch my drift.

Brian is one of those warm and amazing people who you feel instantly comfortable with. Over the course of our conversation the one thing that stuck with me the most was the story he told about his favourite 4-H memory, which was a trip to the Hays Contact Classic in 1983. Check out the article below to read about Brian’s favourite 4-H memory (it’s a good one, I promise) and learn his 4-H story.

_____________________________________________________________________________

At the young age of 14, Brian Carscadden travelled with his Ayrshire calf to a competition for 4-H dairy Club Members called the Hays Contact Classic in Markham, Ontario. This spur of the moment trip was quite nerve wracking for this young 4-H’r. “I was the lone representative from Russell County,” Brian shares, “I was incredibly scared, nervous and shy.” Now, Brian looks back on this experience as a pivotal moment in his life. It was on this day that Brian met one of his mentors, Lowell Lindsay and to top it all off, this rookie took home first place in Junior Showmanship with Lowell as the judge. “I hardly remember yesterday but I remember that,” Brian says.

1983 Hays Contact Classic

Brian, second from the right, at the Hays Contact Classic in 1983. His mentor, Lowell Lindsay, is on the far left

This 4-H Alumnus now works for Semex, a world-renowned bovine genetics company, as a Sire Analyst. He developed an interest in judging, analysis and sire acquisitions after being exposed to the industry through 4-H, his work on his parent’s farm and industry role models, including Lowell. Brian was interviewed and hired for United Breeders Inc. and eventually Semex by Lowell immediately after he graduated from the University of Guelph’s Animal Science program.

Brian has had tremendous success as a Sire Analyst and dairy cattle judge. His expertise is in high demand and his judging assignments have taken him to over 20 international destinations. This 4-H Alumnus is extremely well respected globally for his outstanding judging skills and he attributes a great deal of his success to 4-H.

“To be successful in my field you have to have a good knowledge of the industry, good knowledge of what a good cow should look like, as well as strong communication and people skills,” Brian explains. “Early on in my 4-H career we had to do demonstrations. My brother and I were taken under the wing of an older 4-H’r and we were very successful with it [demonstrations]. That early experience of having to stand in front of people and speak really shaped who I am today and I truly believe that.” Brian’s involvement in 4-H dairy clubs also taught him skills in judging, showmanship and communication, which are all imperative in his field.

Brian recognizes the importance of strong mentors and leaders in youth development. Even with his busy schedule Brian still volunteers his time to help groom the next generation of agriculture leaders. For the last two years he’s helped prepare young Wellington dairy 4-H’rs for showmanship competitions at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. “I feel like I have something to offer and I want to be a positive influence,” Brian says. Brian also helps youth improve their showmanship skills during competitions; he’s well known within the 4-H dairy community for taking extra time and care with each competitor to provide constructive feedback.

Between international judging assignments, a flourishing career, and spending time with his family, he hopes to find time to lead a 4-H Club in the future.  For now, 4-H’rs can continue to benefit from his superb judging skills and helpful feedback. Good thing Brian worked up the courage to travel to the Hays Contact Classic.

Carscadden Family Photo

Brian with his wife Linda and their three children