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.

From seed to sugar, Chatham-Kent 4-H celebrates the Sugarbeet!

By Stephanie Campbell

Chatham-Kent’s Sugarbeet Production Club sure knows a thing or two about a “Sweet” 4-H Club! From seed to sugar, this club learns about the process of growing sugarbeets, diseases their crop might encounter, preparing a sugarbeet sample, cooking with sugar, and more! Rob and Maureen McKerrall took it upon themselves to reintroduce the Sugarbeet Club to Chatham-Kent following its initial start in 1930 as the “Better Sugar Beet Club” where boys learned how to grow better sugar beets.

A trip to the Michigan Sugar Company processing plant in Croswell, Michigan to see the process of how beets are transformed into sugar, has been a highlight of this club! Members will wrap up their year by participating in the Highgate Fair by submitting a sugarbeet sample, consisting of three (3) hand picked “prized” beets! To compete, members dig the beets out of the ground, they are washed, clipped and mounted on a coat hanger for presentation at the fair.

The local sugarbeet seed sales representatives: the Dover sugarbeet piling station, agronomists and Michigan Sugar Company have assisted in the development of this club in the Chatham-Kent area. The Chatham-Kent Sugarbeet Club is the only Canadian Club to participate in Michigan Sugar Company’s Youth Project.

Whether these members are returning to their farms to push the sugar content of their beets, increase poundage or cook new recipes with sugar, this club has brought them together to celebrate a locally grown product that we all enjoy!

Haldimand 4-H Association members put their skills to the test at annual judging competition

By: Kendra Saxton 

Each year, the Ontario Mutuals Insurance Association gives each 4-H Association the opportunity to apply for a $250 grant to support a local project or program. The Ontario Mutuals Grant Application Program is opened to 4-H Associations in the hopes that the financial support will assist in new project innovations or strengthen and develop an existing program.

One association particularly looking forward to this opportunity is the Haldimand 4-H Association. The association holds an annual judging competition for all of its members, and this year’s event was exceptionally successful. On Monday, June 10, 2019, the Haldimand 4-H Association welcomed its members to the competition, held at the Walpole Antique Farm Machinery Association in Jarvis, Ontario.

This year, over 150 members and 30 screened volunteers, along with additional volunteers and parents practiced their judging techniques and had a blast doing so. The evening began with a pizza dinner accompanied by fresh veggies and chocolate milk, allowing everyone to mingle before the competition started. After dinner, the members judged multiple different categories of objects including classes of lawnmowers, school lunches, sunscreen and bacon, and were asked to give thoughtful reasoning behind their decisions. To ensure that the members could make decisions amongst their peers, they were divided into four groups: novice, junior, intermediate and senior. Everyone had a fun-filled evening despite the weather being a little dreary.

At the conclusion of the judging competition, the members were given well-deserved ice cream treats as they awaited the official placing results. The results were then sent to all the screened volunteers in order to share their success with the rest of their members. The winners of each of the four groups have another event to look forward to in January 2020 in Fisherville, Ontario, as they will be presented with their awards at the Annual Banquet and yearend wrap up. The members of the Haldimand 4-H Association came together for a group photo with the OMIA logo, and received a nod of recognition as the photo was featured in their local newspaper, The Haldimand Press.

The Haldimand 4-H Association sees immense value in this event because it helps their members develop their public speaking and decision-making skills, and provides them with the ability and confidence to explain their reasoning. Hopefully the dedication and passion that the Haldimand 4-H Association shows towards their event will inspire other Associations to consider submitting a project of their own!

 

Country Music, Racecars, Prizes and More at KubotaFEST 2019

By: Kendra Saxton 

May 29 was not a typical Wednesday at Kubota Canada Ltd. as they were gearing up for a special event. Food trucks claimed their space early in the morning as vendors and Kubota sponsored partners followed closely behind. The booming of the speakers for sound checks filled the air as the final touches of the stage set-up came to a close. A few special guests were set to make their appearances, hoping to catch the surprise of the audience, and have a lot of fun too. 

Since announcing a new partnership with Kubota Canada Ltd. last year, 4-H Ontario has continued to positively grow their corporate relationship and was given the exciting opportunity to attend KubotaFEST Canada in Markham, Ontario.

Rob Allison, National Brand Manager for Kubota Canada Ltd. wanted to host this event to bring together all of their corporate sponsorship partners to meet, greet and celebrate. 4-H Ontario’s Manager, Corporate Giving and Philanthropy, Katherine Smart attended the event with Carrie Purcell, York 4-H Association Representative and 4-H Ontario Council Board Member, and proudly represented 4-H at their very own booth. They were able to speak with other sponsors and share information about 4-H and further spread the 4-H message.

Alongside 4-H Ontario, multiple other Kubota Canada partners including Olympic Gold Medalist Brad Gushue and country singer Gord Bamford attended the event and held autograph sessions and performances throughout the day. An important fundraising effort was also made as Kubota Canada Ltd. sold raffle tickets during the day to raise money for the Gord Bamford Foundation – a not for profit organization that specializes in supporting youth across the country. Kubota Canada Ltd. selflessly agreed to match all the money raised at the event and encouraged all partners and vendors to make a donation. 

There were many activities offered at the event such as axe throwing and the chance for kids to sit in a real racecar. People vied for exciting prizes and giveaways and enjoyed one (or two) beavertails while they watched a performance by Gord Bamford. A special shout-out goes to George Bailey of Kubota who won the 4-H Prize at the event!

Katherine Smart happily recalls that her highlight of the day was watching Rob Allison get up on stage and play on Gord Bamford’s guitar as they performed together.

The KubotaFEST gave each sponsorship partner a sign of appreciation and thanks, but most importantly created many long-lasting memorable moments. Special thanks to Kubota Canada Ltd. for inviting 4-H Ontario to KubotaFEST, being wonderful hosts and for being our amazing Corporate Partner!

Nicole French Announced as 2019 Director-Youth on the Ontario 4-H Council Board of Directors


By Laura Squires

4-H Ontario is excited to announce Nicole French as the new 2019 Director-Youth on the Ontario 4-H Council Board of Directors. The Director-Youth is responsible for bringing the views and issues of the 4-H members to the Ontario 4-H Council discussions and assisting with the development of the 4-H Ontario program.

Since the age of 11, Nicole has been an active member of the Peel 4-H Association where she has completed over 85 clubs and participated in several 4-H Ontario opportunities including Youth Adventure Camp and Go For The Gold. She was also a 4-H Ontario Ambassador in both 2017 and 2018 and a Youth Service Leader with 4-H Canada’s Hands to Larger Service leader program this past year.

“It is an honour to have been selected for this position and it means that I will be able to help shape the future of the 4-H program that has benefited me in so many ways,” says Nicole.

As the new Director-Youth, Nicole is looking forward to sharing her ideas with the board while experiencing another side of 4-H through this unique opportunity.

 

 

Kim DeKlein wins 2018 Provincial Volunteer Leader of the Year Award

By Laura Squires

Congratulations are in order for Kim DeKlein who is the winner of the 2018 Ontario Provincial Volunteer Leader of the Year award! Each year, 4-H Canada recognizes a volunteer from each Province for their support and dedication to giving 4-H members experiences and skills that help them become responsible, caring and contributing individuals.

Kim began her 4-H journey at the age of 12 where she was part of the Peterborough Dairy Club. Until she was 21, she participated in all 4-H opportunities and was part of the ‘Classic’ team for many years.

After university, her first job was at 4-H where she helped organize Youth Adventure Camp and Provincial Leadership Camp, in addition to many newsletters, awards nights and fall fair achievement programs. She also sat on the 4-H Ontario Council Board of Directors for three years.

Once her son was old enough to join 4-H, Kim became a leader with the Dorchester Dairy Club in Middlesex and led several other life skills clubs in addition to a regional judging club, tractor and farm safety and field crops clubs. She has been part of the Middlesex 4-H Association as a director for the past seven years and she will be completing her year as president very soon.

Over the past 10 years, Kim has enjoyed seeing the growth of the 4-H members in her clubs where some have overcome a fear of public speaking, some have taken on a new challenge or accomplished a goal and others have even become 4-H volunteers themselves.

“I truly love the 4-H program and want to give back to a program that gave so much to me. The award means that I have achieved that for someone else,” stated Kim when asked about winning the Provincial Volunteer Leader of the Year Award.

Kim encourages all parents of 4-H members to become volunteers and help out in any way they can. Everyone brings new skills, new ideas and a different way of doing things to the table that lightens the load for everyone and creates a fun environment that is diverse among all clubs. Her best advice for new volunteers is to, “Ask questions, start small and dream big.”

Thank you, Kim, for all of your continued efforts and dedication to this organization and your contributions to positive youth development and leadership in your community. We are grateful and proud to have you as a member of our 4-H family.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.”