The Ambassador Beat: Sadie-Jane Hickson

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 2016, 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 Sadie-Jane Hickson, 4-H Ontario Youth Ambassador from Kawartha Lakes-Halliburton 4-H Association

Who knew February was so short!


February is the month of love, and what better way to celebrate than by reflecting on my love for 4-H?

At the end of this month, we, the six 2016 4-H Ontario Ambassadors, completed our year-long term as Ambassadors and welcomed in the new 2017 4-H Ontario Ambassadors. This experience has been amazing; I have met and been inspired by so many youth and volunteers and had opportunities to further develop my skills as a leader and a team player.

With each event I attended, I grew as a 4-H’er. I had the privilege to connect with people from across Ontario. I have been introduced to new opportunities through 4-H, and I have learned so much about myself and communities that 4-H has touched! 4-H truly is a youth empowerment program. Every time I am around 4-H’ers, I am reminded of how much I have learned and how much I will continue to learn. Each day is an opportunity to give back to your community and is a chance to help develop leadership skills in those that are younger than you.

All of the wonderful-ness of the 4-H program and all of the fantastic people you meet makes it hard to leave an event. After the Ambassador reception, I can say I was very sad to leave such a positive and friendly environment. Each event I attend seems to be harder to leave; saying goodbye to people you love to be around is hard!

But that’s part of the beauty of the 4-H program; it is never really goodbye to your friends, leaders and mentors. There is always another chance to see them again. With the technology today, it is easy to stay connected. We can stay involved in each others lives and organize a time to meet up. Know from experience that there are many 4-H group chats from camps, conferences and the Ambassador program each year! There are so many opportunities for 4-H’ers to attend and to see their friends, such as Judge-It days, Go For The Gold, The Royal and leadership camps such as Future Leaders In Action (FLIA), Provincial Leadership Camp and Career Mania.

For those that love the 4-H program so much that they have attended all of the leadership camps offered in Ontario, there are still ways to stay involved and meet people. I promise that national events are just as amazing as the provincial ones. In addition, volunteer at Discovery and Judge-It Days! One opportunity I have had the privilege of attending as a 4-H ambassador was Youth Adventure Camp as a youth facilitator. I had a fantastic time; I was able to attend the camp and meet amazing leaders, but I also had the opportunity to experience facilitation! I know that I have so many great memories from silly facilitators that helped me to grow as a leader, and hope that I will be a part of other 4-H’ers memories!

So to wrap this up a bit, once a 4-H’er, always a 4-H’er. Saying goodbye after a camp or a conference is hard, but it is not hard to use the tools made available to us so that we may stay connected. The camp goodbyes are not permanent, so cheer up. Meet as many people as you can, and prepare to see them at the next 4-H event. This is something that one of the greatest 4-H mentors, facilitators and friends said to me after FLIA last March Break, and I like to remember that at every 4-H event.

Being a 4-H Ontario Ambassador has been an unreal experience. I am so thankful that I had this opportunity. I have learned so much about myself, my peers, and 4-H in Ontario. Moving forward, I will take advantage of all the new opportunities I have learned about, and continue to be a proud 4-H’er. Another 4-H friend of mine told me, “just because the Ambassador term is over, it doesn’t mean you are done being an Ambassador”. I will always represent the 4-H program to the best of my ability. Thank you 4-H Ontario, UPI Energy and GROWMARK, Inc. None of these opportunities or connections would be possible without your investments in the futures of today’s youth.


4-H Competitions Inspire Youth to Achieve

Written by: Ryan Métivier

Annually, 4-H sends a team of youth to compete in the 4-H and Youth National Judging Competition at the Canadian Western Agribition. In her third year of competing, Cassandra Gorrill set her sights on improving her results from years past and finishing in the top five of the competition. After two busy days of judging different classes and mingling with other teams and sponsors, Gorrill surpassed her goal by being named Grand Aggregate and gaining the opportunity to judge the First Lady Classic. 

Gorrill, of Kawartha Lakes-Haliburton 4-H Association, traveled to Regina for the competition with four other members and one chaperone to make up team Ontario. The competition is open to 4-H members and college and university students from across Canada. A member since 2006 when she could first join, Gorrill has been a member of numerous clubs as well as being a Youth Leader for Beef.

“I enjoy the people and skills the most in 4-H,” she says. “I love learning new things and teaching younger members all the skills I can pass along. I love the people involved with 4-H.”

On the third day of Agribition, winners were announced and Gorrill was thrilled to have placed in three classes:  Dairy Cows, Charolais Bull Calves and Barley Class. Then came the countdown of the top five spots and the realization she’d been named Grand Aggregate.

“When they announced my name as the Grand Aggregate I think I experienced shock,” says Gorrill. “I was happy and proud and couldn’t wait to call my mom, but as I walked up to receive my buckle and trophy, my hands began shaking and my tummy clenched with fear at the thought of judging the First Lady Classic.”

After getting over those initial nerves, she settled in and evaluated all the cattle the way she usually does, not worrying about how she would place them in relation to the more experienced judges. In the end she was right on point picking the champions of both the Futurity and the Bred Heifers categories.

“There was no greater honour than judging the First Lady Classic,” she says.

Gorrill says her time with 4-H directly prepared her for this opportunity by giving her the ability to have fun no matter what, the confidence to meet new people, to speak in public and the ability to judge different classes. Her county’s Evaluation Night and Peterborough Junior Day and Judge-It! Days exposed her to competitive judging and gave her the foundation for this competition.

“If I had to tell a youth who wasn’t yet involved in 4-H something, it would be that they were only a step away from making some of the best memories, building some of the best friendships and connections and experiencing the best opportunities that will impact you in the future,” says Gorrill. “4-H is great big family filled with people who want to help you explore your passions.”

Team 4-H Ontario at the Canadian Western Agribition. Caleigh Van Kampen, Dufferin Courtney Van Kampen, Dufferin Cassandra Gorrill, Kawartha Lakes-Haliburton Julie French, Peel Jessica Lasby, Wellington Also attending with the team as Chaperone: Dawn Van Kampen

KLH Claims GFTG Supremacy

By Ryan Métivier

All across the province 4-H’ers have been competing amongst their Associations and regions all year for a chance to represent their region at the Provincial Go For The Gold (GFTG) Competition at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto.

The Go For The Gold competition is a great experience for 4-H members to increase their knowledge of 4-H project materials, agriculture, food, community, events and much more, all while doing so in a team atmosphere. There are 4-H Association level and 4-H Regional level competitions hosted by local 4-H volunteers.

This year’s championship took place on Saturday, November 8 during The Royal and was highlighted by a dominating showing from the team from Kawartha Lakes-Haliburton of Region 3 who claimed the title. The team of first-time competitors went 5-0 in round robin play and amassed a total of 990 points. After this impressive showing, they entered the final against the team from Halton and Region 4 in a rematch of the first round robin game. KLH was able to come out on top once again though with a 185-120 win.

From l-r: Diane Armstrong (Coach), Maggie-Jo Hickson, Sadie-Jane Hickson, Cassandra Gorril, Trevor Kennedy, Craig Kennedy (Coach)

“I was stressed about mid-terms at university and everything so it was kinda like a crash thing,” said KLH team member Cassandra Gorrill when asked about how the team prepared for the competition. “But Sadie and Maggie are super intense on drilling and that’s basically how I prepared for today. You just kinda learn as much as you can in a short period of time. It’s intense.”

“The second we won Regionals is when we started preparing for this,” said Trevor Kennedy. “I think another thing that went into the preparation for today was reciting lots of acronyms and symptoms of diseases and things like that that came into play today.”

Despite the undefeated record, the team from KLH admitted there were many challenges throughout the day.

“The hardest part was definitely not second guessing yourself,” said Sadie-Jane Hickson. “Knowing that you know the answer and you know your team knows the answer, but sometimes you’re just not quick enough on the buzzer.”

“I think one of the hardest parts was just staring down the other team and just having to face them, especially when you know people on the other team,” added Kennedy.

Getting involved with GFTG was a way for the team’s whole county to come together.

“It’s a county thing, so our whole county is involved,” said Maggie-Jo Hickson. “Some clubs count it as a meeting and everyone in our county has such a great time at that night, we just want to continue on with it.”

The team was quick to thank many people for their contributions leading up to and throughout the competition including their parents, friends and supporters and everyone who was involved at the county, regional and provincial levels. They also thanked their coaches Diane Armstrong and Craig Kennedy.

“They’ve put a lot of hard work into it and they should really be proud of themselves,” said Armstrong. “They knew a lot of answers to questions that I had no idea on. They did a great job and the day was excellent.”

Other teams that competed in this year’s provincial competition included: Temiskaming – Region 1, Russell – Region 2, Huron – Region 5 and Elgin – Region 6.

For more photos from this year’s Provincial GFTG Competition click here.

Go For The Gold is made possible through the generous support Ontario Mutuals.














A Leader and Life-Long Believer

Shirley King, of Lindsay, Ontario, has a lifetime of dedication to 4-H. Shirley was a Volunteer for 45 years and lead 87 Club projects. An amazing feat of contribution. Throughout her 4-H career, before retiring from volunteering in 2005, she started several new 4-H Clubs and assisted with or lead many others. The love of 4-H runs in the family. Shirley’s three daughters and four grand daughters also participated in 4-H. Below is a bit about Shirley’s lifetime commitment to 4-H.


Shirley got started in 4-H in 1966 when her eldest daughter turned of age to become a Member. Since her daughter was joining 4-H, she decided to Volunteer so she could help out and be involved. Shirley assisted with the Whitby 4-H Club under Leader Doris Grills from 1966 until the end of 1967. She then started a Club in Ajax and commuted from Whitby to host the Club meetings. She led the Ajax 4-H Club until 1974, at which point her family moved to a farm within the Kawartha Lakes-Haliburton 4-H Association. By that time she had two daughters in 4-H who joined the local Grasshill Clubs. She led or assisted with these Clubs until 1982 before starting another Club in Downeyville. She led the Downeyville 4-H Club until 1988 when her family moved for a second time to a Cambray, Ontario. Cambray is where she started in 4-H for a third time.

Shirley has two reasons for staying involved in 4-H for so long; “I did it for my girls – both daughters and grand daughters – and because I truly believe in the 4-H program,” she explains. “I didn’t plan on leading all the time. “We’d move into an area and my girls would join the local 4-H Clubs and then those Leaders would find out I was a Leader before and ask me get involved again. So I would.”  Perhaps her continuous involvement and passion for 4-H is why Shirley’s daughters were so successful in their Clubs. “All three of my girls had Advanced Honors in 4-H,” she shares. Advanced Honors are presented to 4-H Members who have completed 18 or more Club projects. Shirley’s grand daughters completed many Club projects during their Member tenure as well and her eldest daughter is also a Leader and has followed in her mother’s footsteps by starting her own Club in Oshawa.

I did it for my girls and because I truly believe in the 4-H program

“I mainly ran lifeskills Clubs,” Shirley says of being a Leader, “though occasionally there would be a sports-related Club that I would lead or help out with”.  The Clubs were always busy with roughly 15 to 30 Members participating in each; the sports Clubs often reaching as high as 35 kids. “Those times I was glad to have the help of other Leaders or Volunteers,” Shirley shares.

The Club that stands out the most in her mind is the Sewing Club she led in Ajax. She had the help of another Volunteer who was a seamstress and together they and the Members put on a fashion show, which was broadcast on cable TV. “It was a lot of fun creating the outfits and decorating the stage,” she says. Shirley also enjoyed the four or five day camping trips she would take with the Club Members, and decorating floats for parades as part of their projects. She was also lucky to have a husband who liked to help out with 4-H as well. “He would come along on the camping trips or help build the floats for the parades or the stage for our fashion shows – he was very handy to have around,” Shirley explains.

“I have so many good memories,” she says of her overall 4-H experience. “When leading the Clubs I learned as much as the kids did.” Many 4-H Leaders or Volunteers are part of 4-H because they know how influential it can be in a child’s development. When Shirley describes what 4-H means to her, she says simply,  “It was my life.”  Thank you to Shirley, a true believer in 4-H, for her lifetime of dedication to developing skills in the youth of the various communities she lived in.


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!