A Lifelong Ambassador

How 4-H Membership Turned Into A Career In Agriculture

By Ryan Métivier

Three years ago Samantha Klaver joined the 4-H Ontario Ambassador program and became one of the faces of the program throughout 2012. Already a 4-H member at the time since she was 11, she says the program definitely helped to shape who she is today.

From improving her public speaking, as well as confidence, and interview, presentation and etiquette skills, to enabling her to gain a new career, participate in competitions and meeting people of similar interests, Samantha took advantage of everything 4-H had to offer.

“I really enjoyed learning about such a broad spectrum of topics,” she says. “It allowed me to learn a little bit about so many different topics that interested my peers. Without 4-H, I would not have been able to visit some of the places I have, nor meet so many people whom I am still in contact with today.”

Samantha Klaver (far left) with her fellow 2012 4-H Ontario Ambassadors.

Samantha’s first 4-H club was Wearable Art, after hearing about it through her church bulletin and joining on her mother’s suggestion, as she had been a 4-H member herself as a child. That first club lead to many more and eventually her position as an Ambassador.

Looking back at her scrapbook, Samantha remembers the sponsor tour day, learning about other agribusinesses; the GROWMARK Annual General Meeting where she met Future Farmers of America members and farmers; visiting the Chicago Board of Trade; and, the UPI Rendezvous, where she had the opportunity to enjoy a surprise concert by Emerson Drive.

Today, Samantha has parlayed her experiences in 4-H into a career in the agriculture industry. As a Field Marketer for Hensall District Co-operative in Seaforth, Samantha works with farmers in Huron and Perth Counties, assisting them with growing successful crops, such as food grade soybeans and edible beans.

The role gives Samantha lots of variety, as she will spend some days attending meetings and training, and others on the road meeting with farmers to determine crop plans for the upcoming growing season.

The required public speaking skills were something she worked to develop during the Ambassador program.

“I have a lot more confidence in myself when speaking in front of crowds, which made my last year in 4-H the most memorable,” she says.

While competing in the Canadian Young Speakers for Agriculture Competition last November at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, she noted in her speech that without 4-H, she would not have been there speaking.

“I used to be really shy and quiet, but 4-H changed that about me and applying to be a 4-H Ambassador only seemed like the right thing to do.”

The Ambassador program also gave Samantha a great foundation to become a 4-H Leader. She took up volunteering this year, and says she looks forward to sharing 4-H with everyone she meets. This summer she had the opportunity to chaperone a group of 4-H members to the Peace River area in British Columbia.

“An organization that has literally taught me to ‘Learn To Do By Doing,’ also taught me that anything is possible as it has lead me to keep working and learning in agriculture; the industry I grew up in. I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

The  4-H Ontario Ambassador Program celebrates ten years of senior youth leadership in 2015. The Ambassador program is generously sponsored by GROWMARK, Inc and UPI Energy LP.

An Eye Opening Experience

In the beginning of July, the 2012 4-H Ontario Ambassador embarked on the annual Ambassador Sponsor Tour. This tour gives the Ambassadors a chance to meet the 4-H Ontario Ambassador Program’s sponsors GROWMARK, Inc. and UPI Energy LP, and gain a little intel on what these companies are all about. 4-H Ontario Ambassador, Steven Stockdale, shares his experience on the tour below.

An Eye Opening Experience at the 2012 4-H Ontario Ambassador Sponsor Tour
By Steven Stockdale

Steven Stockdale

I recently took part in the 4-H Ontario Ambassador Sponsor Tour on Thursday July 5th. I was joined by my fellow 4-H Ontario Ambassadors and 4-H Ontario staff representatives Marianne Fallis and Wraychel Horne.

During the tour we visited many FS locations such as FS PARTNERS in Ayr, the GROWMARK, Inc. Ontario Distribution Centre in Kitchener, North Wellington Co-op in Harriston and the UPI Energy LP card lock and distribution centre in Guelph. A side trip during this tour was to the Stone Crock restaurant in St. Jacobs – what an amazing place to eat! The food there was just fantastic. If you know me, you know I like food. LOL.

Group shot
Tour group shot

My favorite part of the tour was stopping at FS PARTNERS in Ayr. The grain storage they had there is unbelievable. I’m from Peterborough, and we do not have grain storage facilities that are this impressive. It was like looking up to the Jolly Green Giant; I just couldn’t believe my eyes!

Grain storage
Grain storage bins at FS Partners

Another part of the tour that was intriguing was the test plots. It was interesting to see the partnership between the farmers and FS showing how to improve his fields and improving his crop yield over the long term with multiple crops.  This would be valuable for many farmers as most don’t just plant one year but many years.

Ambassadors on tour
The five 4-H Ontario Ambassadors: (from left to right) Victoria Kyle, Jennifer Pollock, Steven Stockdale, Julia Romagnoli, and Samantha Klaver

For me the tour was valuable because it really showed me, as well as the other Ambassadors, a first hand look at what our sponsors do and we learned how diverse the companies are. I feel proud to have such great sponsors for the 4-H Ontario Ambassador Program.

About Steven
Steven Stockdale grew up on his family’s dairy farm and has a passion for the 4-H program that has been passed down to him from his parents. He has completed more than 45 Club projects during his ten years as a 4-H Member and has attended multiple 4-H opportunities at the local, regional, provincial and national levels. Steven has held many 4-H Club executive positions including President and Vice President and even Youth Leader, as well as being a volunteer soccer coach in his community. All of these experiences demonstrate his strong leadership and teamwork skills. Steven’s ability to share his 4-H experiences with others while enhancing the Member experience for future generations are just two of the many qualities that make Steven an excellent Ambassador. Steven currently works at Sky Jack in Guelph as a Certified Welder.