The Ambassador Beat: Julie French

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 Julie French, 4-H Ontario Youth Ambassador from Peel 4-H Association

Once-in-a-Lifetime Royal Agricultural Winter Fair

As 4-H members we all work towards different goals with our 4-H projects. For some, they strive to improve their skills within their respective club. For others, they work towards that red ribbon at the local fairs. But for many, the goal is to exhibit their projects at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. This year’s Royal was unlike any other that I have ever attended for many reasons! It demonstrated to me the importance of teamwork, patience and hard work!



Go For The Gold

This year the Peel 4-H Association put together a Go For The Gold team for the first time in a few years. The team from Peel consisted of Allison French, Nicole French, Jamie Laidlaw, Robert Matson and myself. We met the deadline for entry on the last possible day, studied intensely for two weeks and then attended the Region 4 competition in Georgetown. To all of our surprise, we fared the competition and qualified for the provincial competition at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair! After many hours of group studying (sometimes questionable whether we were actually studying or just hanging out together as a team), we took to Toronto for the provincial competition. The competition was fierce! In the end, all of the hard work our team put in paid off and we ended up winning the prestigious title. A special thanks to our leaders Tom and Heather French.

Artistic Display

Another first for the Peel 4-H Association this year was running a seed mosaic club (led by leaders Lindsay Bebbington, Brenda Bebbington and Darlene Downey). This club was one to remember, testing patience and creative ability. Each of the six members created a seed mosaic that we were determined to finish for the local fairs with the end goal of entering them in the competition at the Royal. After hours of work, some minor hiccups and individual sorting and placing seeds with tweezers, four boards made it to the Royal. Peel did amazingly well for the first time participating in this competition- finishing with a 1st (myself), 4th (Allison French), 5th (Nicole French) and 8th (Robert Matson) place. All exhibitors in this competition spent a HUGE amount of time on the creations, creating a beautiful display of a unique club in the 4-H program! A special thank you to SeCan for their support for this competition!

TD Canadian 4-H Dairy Classic
Hard Work

I have been showing in the dairy club for eight years, experiencing all the highs and lows that exhibiting livestock comes with. You invest so much time and energy into training your heifer and getting her ready for the shows in pursuit of success. A huge milestone of the year being qualifying to represent your association at the TD Canadian 4-H Dairy Classic in Toronto. This year’s Classic was very special for Peel as we changed our display thanks to a younger member’s initiative (a special thank you to Allison French) and placed 8th - a huge accomplishment for our association! Several of our members also ended up qualifying from their heat to the finals of their classes! I had the incredible experience of exhibiting the Grand Champion Calf- Quality Solomon Lust. An unbelievable experience that even writing about now seems surreal. I want to thank Quality Holsteins for letting me borrow their heifer as my 4-H project for the year. A special thank you to the amazing 4-H volunteers of Peel, the TD 4-H Canadian Dairy Classic Committee and the Sponsors, and the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair for their support of the Classic. Without the volunteers and sponsors, this once-in-a lifetime Royal experience wouldn’t have been possible.

I am so thankful to the members, volunteers and sponsors of the 4-H program. This year’s Royal was such a humbling experience beyond anything I could have ever imagined. It makes me truly realize the value of the 4-H program and all it has to offer! These were only three events at the Royal this year, with so many other opportunities for 4-H members to exhibit their projects. Hard work, patience and teamwork are all valuable lessons that 4-H teaches members.


Huron claims Go For The Gold glory

By Ryan Métivier

On Saturday, November 2, participants from across all six 4-H Ontario regions descended upon the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair to compete in the 2013 Go For The Gold Provincial Championships, sponsored by Ontario Mutuals.

Go For The Gold is a trivia competition that gives 4-H’rs a chance to learn many new facts and compete amongst their peers.

After five preliminary rounds of competition, Region 4 – Halton and Region 5 – Huron, came up head-to-head in the championship game, with Huron taking the title by a narrow 165-155 margin. In a match that was fairly even for most of the game, Huron gradually increased their lead in the latter stages of the game, before a late comeback from Halton fell just short.

Region 4 - Halton

The Region 5 champions included Jeanette Schramm, Jolande Oudshoorn, Melissa Higgins, Reba Jefferson and Alternate Kate Higgins. The team was coached by Mary Ellen Foran and Marita Oudshoorn.

The team is made up of several family members and neighbours, and the girls are all a part of the Wawanosh Life Skills Club.

Team Captain Melissa Higgins, said her education in the Agriculture Program at the University of Guelph helped in quite a bit in her preparations, but the team also divided up the books and used a “divide and conquer” method to prepare.

“This morning we were feeding each other fun facts and because of that, we did get a Who Am I question right on the first try,” she said when asked about last-minute competition strategies.

In a tight final, Huron edged out Halton by a 165-155 score.

“It’s a really exciting competition and it’s just really fun to get involved with something with other 4-H people,” said Schramm. “You meet people from all across the province.”

Though the team from Huron County amassed an impressive average of over 200 points per game, the competition didn’t come without its challenges.

“The pop-ups are nerve racking, and the snappers,” said Jefferson. “Just cause it’s at the end of the game and true and false is hard. It’s 50/50, but it’s hard.”

“It feels good to win. Sort of makes you feel like a rock star in the 4-H world,” said Higgins.

“I’m super excited because my roommate was on the Region 6 team and I beat her. So now I can hang my winning ribbon on my doorway,” laughed Jefferson.

The teams in competition included Sudbury (Region 1), Carleton (Region 2), Prince Edward (Region 3), Halton (Region 4), Huron (Region 5) and Oxford (Region 6).

“We’re really proud of the team and all of the work they’ve put in over the past few months to prepare for the competition,” said Head Coach Foran.

In order for teams to participate at the Provincial Go For The Gold competition they must have competed at and won their local and regional levels. This weekend’s competition presented the ultimate challenge to members by testing their skills and understanding of 4-H project material as well as general knowledge of 4-H, agriculture, food, nutrition and current events.

“4-H is all about building skills and learning to do by doing and I’ve heard stories about obstacles and surprises and every team has fought through those to get here and have this experience today,” said Debra Brown, Executive Director, 4-H Ontario. “I hope you take many good memories of your experience today, and congratulations to everyone for all that you’ve learned and accomplished.”

For more Go For The Gold coverage check out our Youtube Channel for a video covering the event and interviews with our winners here!

Region 5 - Huron GFTG Champions. From left - right: Head Coach Mary Ellen Foran, Reba Jefferson, Jolande Oudshoorn, Melissa Higgins, Jeanette Schramm, Alternate Kate Higgins, Assistant Coach Marita Oudshoorn.



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.


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.


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!