Introducing the 2012 Syngenta 4-H Ontario Arbor Award Recipients

Volunteers are the heart of the 4-H program. The knowledge, skills, time and dedication they bring to the table is truly amazing. It’s absolutely safe to say that the 4-H program would not be what it is today without the many sensational Volunteers who pledge their Head, Heart, Hands and Health to better youth in their communities.

Because 4-H Volunteers are a vital component of the success of the 4-H program, Volunteer recognition is of utmost importance. 4-H Ontario’s most prestigious Volunteer recognition piece is the Syngenta 4-H Ontario Arbor Award. The Syngenta 4-H Ontario Arbor Award recognizes a select few 4-H Ontario Volunteers who have served the organization for over ten years and have positively impacted both 4-H in Ontario and their local community. You can read more about the award here >

This year, 4-H Ontario is pleased to announce Deborah Brown, Brian O’Neill and Anne Marie Werry as the 2012 recipients. Over the next few weeks I’d like to introduce you to each one of these outstanding Volunteers. Their volunteer efforts are second to none. I have no doubt that you will be floored by their philanthropic nature and 4-H dedication.

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Deborah Brown: The “Jill of all Trades”

Deborah Brown (Blaine) 1968

Deborah, far left, receiving the Ontario Milk Producers Coordinating Board Trophy in 1968. This is one of the highlights of her 4-H career.

Deborah Brown joined 4-H in 1965 at the age of 12. At this point, Members had to be 12 years old to participate and Deborah joined as soon as she could. Deborah had a strong interest in cattle, which matched well with the 4-H program. In her community, 4-H was also the “hip and happening” social club so Deborah couldn’t wait to join this exciting group.

As a Member, Deborah participated in various livestock and homemaking Clubs and quickly became an avid 4-H’r. After completing her Member tenure the local Women’s Institute asked Deborah to lead a homemaking Club. “I really enjoyed the 4-H program and I wanted to remain involved so it was perfect that they asked me to lead a Club,” explained Deborah.

From then on, Deborah was hooked on leading 4-H Clubs. Amongst friends and fellow Volunteers, Deborah has become known as the “Jill of all Trades” and it is definitely for good reason. Deborah has been volunteering with 4-H Ontario for over 40 years and she’s lead over 100 Clubs! If that doesn’t shock you enough, than this certainly will; Deborah has led a Club from almost every 4-H Club category. From Agriculture to Personal Development, this 4-H’r has done it all! To top it all off, she’s also held many Executive Volunteer positions and she had a huge hand in writing past 4-H Ontario sewing project resources.

Deborah’s love for the 4-H program and her passion for helping youth grow into confident citizens continues to be the driving force behind her hours of dedication and hard work. “I really do believe in the program,” said Deborah. “There is no other organization that teaches kids these life skills and I love that I can learn to do by doing as well.”

“I really do believe in the program,” said Deborah. “There is no other organization that teaches kids these life skills and I love that I can learn to do by doing as well.”

When she is not working on a 4-H project, Deborah loves spending time with her husband whom she met in 4-H, her five children and 11 grand children (who have also all been involved in the 4-H program). She also works on a dairy farm; runs her own business where she sells cheeses, collectables and home made crafts; assists her daughter with managing five greenhouses; and she’s an active member of her local church and the South Mountain Fair Board. One word, WOW.

Of course, Deborah does not plan on slowing down anytime soon. “As long as there’s kids to participate in 4-H, I’ll be involved in 4-H as well.” Needless to say, Deborah is one very busy 4-H’r. It’s amazing how she finds the time to lead anywhere from three to six Clubs per year and still manage the many other “trades” in her life. 4-H is lucky to have a Volunteer like Deborah.

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I told you you’d be floored by her generosity! I’m just wondering when she has time to sleep or eat. Congratulations and thank you Deborah for making the 4-H program what it is today.

I hope you enjoyed your virtual introduction to Deborah! Up next week is Anne Marie Werry.