A 4-H Story of Life-Long Friendship

When I ask 4-H’rs what their favourite thing about 4-H is, time and time again, I get the response that it’s the friendships they’ve made. There are many life-long friendships that evolve from the kitchen tables of local Club leaders and at the provincial 4-H camps and conferences. I’d like to take the time to share with you one of the many stories of life-long friendship that has began with a 4-H event; the story of Lynda and Eleanor and their 55 years of friendship. This is a truly amazing story so I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed sharing it.

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As Lynda Shaw so perfectly put it, her and Eleanor Lennox’s story is “really a story of life long friendship.” Lynda and Eleanor met through 4-H more than 55 years ago and their chance encounter blossomed in to a beautiful friendship that has been a cornerstone in their lives.

Lynda and Eleanor
Eleanor, left, and Lynda, right, celebrating 55 years of friendship at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair

Growing up, both Lynda and Eleanor’s families were involved in the sheep industry. The families’ agricultural background led the girls to join 4-H where they took to showing and fell in love with the 4-H program. The girls lived in separate towns, Lynda was from Glencoe and Eleanor was from Ilderton, but fortunately for them, their paths crossed one summer day at the Middlesex 4-H Show. The girls were briefly introduced at this time, and they decided to travel to the Royal Agricultural Fair together in November. This encounter marked the beginning of their life long friendship.

November came quickly and the girls were all set for their trip to the Royal. Lynda and her cousin, Mary Kathryn, met Eleanor on the train in Glencoe and their journey began. For three young girls who were only 15 years old, this expedition was quite the adventure! It was the first time both Eleanor and Lynda had gone in to the city without their parents and they were both nervous and eager. “It was wonderful and quite exciting because we were the girls from the farm,” shares Lynda.

When the train arrived in Toronto, the girls departed at Sunny Side and headed to the Exhibition ground. They were guided by a 4-H Leader to the residence they would occupy for the next few days.

The Royal activities began with showing their steers on the Thursday. This was an incredible experience for both Lynda and Eleanor. “There were over 300 members who had steers in the Queens Guineas class,” shares Lynda. She goes on to explain how each Member proudly wore an all white 4-H showmanship uniform, which included a white knit sweater with the 4-H emblem sewn on in 4-H green. “You walked in to the room and saw a sea of sparkling white wool sweaters; it was truly unbelievable.”

“You walked in to the room and saw a sea of sparkling white wool sweaters; it was truly unbelievable.”

After showing their animals, Lynda, Eleanor and Mary Katherine spent Friday exploring downtown Toronto during the day, and attending a 4-H organized dance at night. Their final day at the Royal was spent watching international show jumping. “Lynda loved horses and she introduced me to international jumping,” said Eleanor. This was one of Eleanor’s first experiences with horse jumping and she was awe struck by the sport.

By the end of their three day journey, the roots of Eleanor and Lynda’s friendship had been securely planted. Sharing this unique experience at the Royal together built a strong foundation for a friendship that has been instrumental in both of their lives. Eleanor and Lynda spent the next two years going to show at the Queen’s Guineas together, and they also saw each other at the Middlesex 4-H Show.

When their time came to graduate from high school they decided to room together at University. The pair attended Teacher’s College together after Lynda convinced Eleanor to join her on this next incredible journey, and they continued to live together until Lynda moved out to be married. They were bridesmaids in one another’s weddings, and even after Eleanor moved away from Middlesex to Toronto, they remained best friends seeing each other every year on their birthdays, which are just two days apart.

Now, 55 years later, their friendship is as strong as ever. “My relationship with Lynda means the world to me,” shares Eleanor. To celebrate their friendship, every five years, Eleanor and Lynda get together to embark on a new adventure. Last fall, the two went back to where it all started, the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. “The Royal is very special to both of us,” said Lynda. This was the first time since their 4-H days that Lynda and Eleanor had ventured to the Royal together. This trip flooded back fond memories and reminded them of the amazing time they had together that first November that they became friends.

“My relationship with Lynda means the world to me,” shares Eleanor.

“Life just would not be at all the same without her in my life,” notes Lynda. “We’ve remained best friends, we don’t have a bad word to say to each other. Our friendship is just totally special. You can get by in life without a lot of things but you can’t get by without your friends.”

Congratulations to 55 years of amazing friendship, Lynda and Eleanor.

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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.

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.

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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