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.

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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.

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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!