The Lasting Effects of a 4-H Experience

Hello Everyone! My name is Robyn Cox and I’m the new Communications Intern for 4-H Ontario working on a volunteer contract. I’m a recent graduate of the University of Western Ontario’s Media in the Public Interest program and I am really excited to keep you updated about the happenings at 4-H Ontario. It’s amazing to hear about the great experiences and abilities people have gained through their participation with 4-H. Last week I had the opportunity to catch up with a 4-H alumnus, Doug Osborn, and he told me a bit about his history with 4-H.
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The Lasting Effects of a 4-H Experience
By Robyn Cox

Doug Osborn is an individual who is truly admired for his community involvement and leadership skills. A devoted father with a son and daughter in their early twenties, Doug works as a leading Millwright and has volunteered for various community efforts, including being a Scout leader and a Tai Chi instructor. But for Doug it all started with 4-H.

From ages twelve to eighteen Doug participated in various 4-H clubs in Huron County, including Dairy, Beef, Farm Safety, Farm Machinery, Field Crops, and Gardening clubs. His whole family participated in 4-H; his mother was a volunteer leader throughout her life and his siblings participated in various clubs as well. His experience goes back to a time when there were only two sections in the gardening category of clubs: homemaking and agricultural. Nowadays there are a plethora of different types of gardening clubs including ones directed towards plant-life in the home, plant-life in the yard, plant-life in the field, and even landscaping.

Doug has a lot of great memories from his time with 4-H. One of his fondest memories is of his Dairy Club doing a display using barn board as the background and presenting it at the Western Fair. Shortly thereafter barn board backgrounds became all the rage in 4-H project displays.

In his opinion, 4-H has had a positive lasting effect on him because of the skills he was able to develop as a leader and a communicator. As a club member he was able to hone those abilities through leadership camps, youth leader programs, and youth exchanges. Later on, he further developed those skills as the volunteer leader of a Financial Fitness Club.

A lot of things have changed about 4-H over the years but some very important things remain the same. As he puts it, “4-H will always have a lot to offer individuals in terms of developing interpersonal skills that they will consistently use throughout their lives.” Doug is proud of his accomplishments with 4-H and feels that “it’s a great way to develop usable life skills” no matter where you’re from or what kinds of clubs you’re involved in.
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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!

Russel Dickout’s 4-H Story

There are many service clubs and organizations who generously support 4-H Ontario year after year. We often don’t hear about these amazing contributions so I was thrilled to read Russel Dickout’s story which mentioned the Ingersoll Kiwanis Club. This Club has been sponsoring the 4-H Calf Dairy Club since 1941; that’s an amazing 71 years of support! These local clubs and organizations make it possible to provide 4-H’rs with unique Club opportunities such as field trips or Club materials. Thank you to Russel for sharing his story. It’s wonderful to see first hand accounts of how the supporters of 4-H have influenced the 4-H experience. And, of course, it’s always fantastic to read each individual 4-H story.
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A Never Ending Passion for 4-H
By Russel Dickout

My interest in 4-H started in 1937 when my older brother first became involved. I could not understand why I wasn’t allowed to join also. At that time, because of limited resources only one member from one family was allowed to participate. By the time I reach 12 years old, either the rules had been changed, or my father had enough influence to get me accepted, so, in 1941, I was on my way. At that time, the only Club in the area was a Dairy Calf Club, which was my interest. This Club was sponsored by the Ingersoll Kiwanis Club. After seventy years, this Club is still the sponsor of this Calf Club, an amazing record for a non farm organization consisting of urban people, store owners, industrialists, doctors and lawyers. Don Mackenzie, a recent graduate of O.A.C. and chemist at the local fertilizer plant, and Grant Small, an insurance agent, were the main organizers. The highlight of the 4-H year was the award banquet in November when we were entertained to a dinner and received our cash awards.

I spent eight years in the Club and never missed a meeting. I also served as President one year and was a high aggregate score winner my last two years.

I became involved in Ontario Junior Farmers, so for a few years I got away from 4-H but I took on the role of Assistant Club Leader in the late 1950′s and assisted the Kiwanians who were still leading the Club. I resigned in 1972 before our oldest daughter was old enough to join. I had seen some problems in other Clubs where the Leaders had children as Members of their Clubs, and by the I had three good young Alumni who could take over the Club and carry it into the future.

Our four children all spent eight years al Club Members and enjoyed the work and education the activity supplied. Our girls moved on in life but always cherished the experience. The girls took several homemaking Clubs as their mother had, and our son, in order to completed 24 Clubs, took some of the life skills Clubs. Our son was also treasurer of the Oxford County 4-H Association. While in this role, he instigated the Battery Blitz campaign which raised a considerable amount of money for Oxford County 4-H Association.

During this time, I did a considerable amount of judging both of 4-H and open shows around western Ontario. The young people who had graduated from the 4-H program excelled in the show ring.

A few years ago, my granddaughter who lived in the city had an opportunity to join the Bond’s Corner Dairy Calf Club and enjoyed the experience. I still try to take in as many shows as I can so my interest in showing and 4-H is very much still there.
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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!

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!

From 4-H’r to RCMP Officer: A 4-H Alumni Story

This week, I’d like to take the time to share another 4-H Alumni story. With the hundredth anniversary right around the corner, now is a perfect time to revisit the roots of 4-H and see what 4-H has meant to its many past Members and Volunteers.

This story was submitted by Dwight Blok. A big thank you goes out to Dwight for taking the time to share his 4-H story. Read on to learn why 4-H was an important part of this RCMP Officer’s early years.

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From 4-H’r to RCMP Officer: A 4-H Alumni Story
By Dwight Blok

Dwight BlokI joined 4-H in 1976, in the District of Cochrane South.  4-H in my area was centered around the Agricultural Society Office in Matheson, Ontario, and I recall there were only a few of clubs at the time.  The predominate one was the Beef Club, given the agricultural make up of the area.

There were some large and respected beef operators in those years whose families were committed 4-H supporters, including my own. In fact there were times when kids from town would join, but didn’t have a calf to show at the fall fair or other types of support from their families.  That was never an obstacle and we made sure that anyone who wanted to join could and did.

Looking back, 4-H gave us experiences and taught us in real and practical terms valuable life skills and lessons such as the importance of volunteerism, community spirit and support, as well as leadership.  In other words “Learn to do by doing”, as the 4-H motto goes!

These “Learn To Do By Doing” experiences were facilitated by 4-H role models and leaders. I remember these individuals very well, and the important role they played as role models, leaders, and supporters of 4-H.  To this day, they remain the ‘unsung’ heroes of the program. The time they gave to youth and the 4-H program had quite the significant impact, one that was beyond their years.

Reflecting on the experience, 4-H is an excellent organization that allowed me to undertake a range of leadership roles at a very early age.  There were many events that I attended and they were great learning adventures.  I ended my 4-H days in 1982 and went to university the following year.

From university, I decided to join the RCMP.  I was first posted to Northern Manitoba for the next five years in isolated and remote communities near Hudson Bay.  I was then transferred to different types of both uniform and plain clothes duties in and around Winnipeg for a number of years.  Ironically, Manitoba is where 4-H started in Canada in 1913, and little did I realize that the exact area where it started was about an hour away from where I lived!  That said, I found myself being transferred back to my “home” province of Ontario a few years ago, commissioned as an Inspector.

Throughout my career in the RCMP so much of what 4-H stands for and holds true came forth years later and played a central role in many activities and programs that I’ve participated in and lead.  Little did I realize then, but all those things that I experienced at a young age in 4-H became my foundation for a career that no one could have fully predicted in the 1970’s!  These skills included team collaboration, community involvement, independent learning, and mentorship, to name a few. 4-H, its “Learn To Do By Doing” motto, and the outstanding Leaders and role models that assisted with Clubs and 4-H events all played a role in who I am today.
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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.