The Ambassador Beat: Gina Posthumus

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 2015, 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 Gina Posthumus, 4-H Ontario Youth Ambassador from Hastings 4-H Association

10 Things to Love About 4-H

During my past eight years as a 4-H member, especially during my Ambassador term, I have really come to appreciate the things this amazing program does for youth, leaders, volunteers and those alike. Although the list is endless, I decided to compile a list of the top 10 things to love about 4-H.

1. Friends

To me, 4-H has been one of the easiest places to make friends. Within each club, it is very easy to find someone with the same interests as you. Heck, you’re in the same 4-H club so there is a commonality right off the bat! Thanks to the 4-H program, most of my best and greatest friends I’ve met are through some sort of 4-H event. Whether it be on a club, county, regional, provincial or even national level, 4-H members are interacting with one another and establishing amazing lifelong friendships. Ask any 4-H member what their favourite thing about 4-H is, and I guarantee in the long list of things they begin to tell you, you will hear the word “friends”.

2. Supportive Mentors

The 4-H program would not exist if it weren’t for the amazing and dedicated leaders and volunteers we have. These people show members what it really means to have passion for something. They are constantly promoting and demonstrating the “learning to do by doing” philosophy. These people are the most supportive, caring, hardworking, encouraging individuals who strive to be positive role models for members. On behalf of all 4-H members, thank you to the volunteers, leaders, parents and fellow members for being such great mentors for not only those involved in the 4-H program, but for everyone you meet.

3. Inclusive

Over the past 100 years, the 4-H program has expanded greatly from its agricultural roots. Although we still celebrate our agricultural roots, the 4-H program is much more than that. The 4-H program has something to offer everyone, no matter where they come from or what their interests are. There are a plethora of possible projects for members ranging from life skills to livestock to paintball to small engines, and everything in between. The options are endless, which makes this program very inclusive to all demographics, urban or rural.

4. Sense of Community

One of the best things about the 4-H program is how it creates a sense of community. Everyone involved in the program shares a sense of camaraderie. The 4-H program has the ability to form a sense of community from border to border across the province. The love and passion the program instills in each person involved makes it feel like we are all one big, happy family. As I always say, once a part of the 4-H family, always part of the 4-H family.

5. Opportunities

The opportunities the 4-H program creates for youth are endless. We are very lucky as 4-H members that we are provided many opportunities other than just completing projects on a local level. Of course we all have the opportunity to make friends, build upon skills and so on, but there is more to it than that. There are regional, provincial and even international opportunities. Some of these opportunities include camps, exchanges, competitions, scholarships, youth positions and much more.

6. Experiences

The experiences 4-H members have through the program are unlike any other. No matter how one is involved in the program, the program allows us to experience some unforgettable things. For me specifically this year as a 4-H Ambassador, I have experienced some once in a lifetime opportunities that I never thought I would have been able to do. I have seen amazing things, done amazing things and met amazing people thanks to the 4-H program. For example, at the 4-H Ontario 100th Anniversary Celebration at Canada’s Wonderland this past July, I was able to meet country singer Leah Daniels. I have also met NHL alumni Bobby Baun at the Warkworth Fall Fair, and most recently, I met the Countess of Wessex at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. I have been able to travel the province, seeing all the amazing things 4-H Ontario has to offer.

7. Memories

The 4-H program has the ability to create wonderful memories. This past April, I attended a 100th Anniversary celebration in Prince Edward County. For a portion of the evening, they invited 4-H alumni from 1950 onwards to present day to share some stories with the crowd. It was amazing to see that even though some of these people have been out of the program for decades, they still have very fond memories of 4-H. The opportunities and experiences 4-H provides for youth make some great stories that we will all want to tell our grandkids someday.

8. Connections

Since the 4-H program makes it so easy to meet people, making connections with people is very easy also. The connections members make through 4-H have the ability to benefit us greatly in the future. Networking with people and establishing connections through 4-H is a great way to put your name out there and show people how awesome you are. This could lead to internships, jobs, you name it.

9. Educational

The phrase “you learn something new every day” is especially true with the 4-H program. The program is very educational and allows members to expand their knowledge on a wide variety of topics. For example, did you know that you can grow a garden inside using a fish tank full of fish? Me neither, until my last Animal Friends meeting.

10. Learning to Do by Doing

Being in 4-H benefits us in ways that we don’t often realize. Sometimes we do not fully understand how much the 4-H program has influenced us until we take a moment to look back on how much we’ve learned through our experiences in 4-H. Members, leaders, volunteers and everyone involved with the program are constantly learning to do by doing. We are learning to think critically by giving reasons while judging. We are learning how to be a good team player by completing group activities. We are learning to communicate by leading a meeting. We are learning how to persevere when our project animal is being uncooperative. We are learning how to be great leaders by being involved in the 4-H program.


Hastings Member Lands Dream Job Thanks to 4-H!

By Ryan Metivier

Growing up, Ashley Baker always knew she wanted to join 4-H, as her aunt was a member of the Dairy Club, where she’d let Ashley lead her project heifer and she helped her dad milk at her grandfather’s dairy farm. At 10 years old, Ashley joined the Hastings 4-H Association in the Dairy Club for herself. Little did she know that years later the decision would lead to numerous accomplishments for herself and her family, as well as a career in politics.

The Baker Family at the 2012 Awards Night

“Through 4-H I have met most of my closest friends,” said Baker. “4-H has taught me dedication, perseverance and given me an undying drive to succeed. I’ve learned how to handle ups and downs through my 11 years in 4-H.”

After two years in the Dairy Club with a dairy calf, Ashley made the switch to the Beef Club, which she says has proven to be the best decision of her life. 

Here, she’s had tremendous success in the show-ring, exhibiting beef cattle with her family, where in 2012 they were recognized through the Canadian Charolais Association as having exhibited the National High Point Female, Reserve High Point Male, High Point Bull Calf and for having been the 2012 overall National Premier Breeder and Premier Exhibitor. Her efforts in 4-H have been recognized through the Outstanding Senior 4-H Member Award, Overall Showman and Champion Heifer Awards, as well as many others at the club and county level. 

Since 2004, when Baker joined the Beef Club, Megan Burnside, the coordinator of volunteer support for Region 3, 4-H, has seen her grow as a leader and person, saying she thrived in the 4-H environment from day one and has never looked back.

“Ashley is a tremendously driven, passionate young woman,” she added. “When she sets a goal, this young lady puts every amount of effort she can into accomplishing it.”

It was through an event with the Beef Club, at the Hastings County Cattlemen Association’s AGM in Madoc, where she was fortunate enough to meet the MPP for Prince Edward-Hastings, Todd Smith. Upon the urging of a family friend to ask for a placement that she needed to complete her law clerk program at Fleming College, Baker spoke to Smith, and the wheels were set in motion.

“Todd’s reaction after I had asked him was, ‘sure, would you like to work out of the Belleville or Queen’s Park office,” said Baker. 

The placement, which involved splitting her time between the constituent office in Belleville working on files and drafting letters and emails, and the Queen’s Park office in Toronto drafting correspondence and writing speeches, helped her to develop a love of politics.

“I spent much time in Toronto learning about politics in general and meeting and interacting with many of the provincial members of parliament,” said Baker. “Through my time with Todd I have grown an incredible amount as a person. I have met many people from many different walks of life and I love it.”  

MPP Todd Smith and Ashley Baker

“Ashley has been a wonderful addition to my legislative team at Queen’s Park and my constituency staff in the Prince Edward-Hastings riding,” said Smith. “Her first-hand knowledge of issues facing our agricultural sector is a tremendous asset to my office.”

The dedication Baker showed during her placement, didn’t go unnoticed. She was recently offered a part-time position with Smith, immediately following her graduation from Fleming.

“I was ecstatic,” she said. “It’s nice to know that the hard work I put in at placement was recognized. I definitely see myself working in politics, and this job is a great way to get involved.” 

Burnside believes Baker’s strong work ethic has been a huge benefit to Hastings 4-H, and will serve her well in the future.

“She shows dedication and commitment that are unparalleled within her peer group and a sense of maturity beyond her years,” said Burnside. “These characteristics make her an invaluable part of our local association, and also a fabulous role model for younger members. Always energetic and full of enthusiasm, there is no doubt that Ashley found a place to call home within the 4-H program.”

Ashley and Gucci at the Jr. Beef Expo in London in March. (Photo by Kaitlyn O'Neill).