Canadian 4-H Annual General Meeting in St. John’s

Valerie Stone is the 2012/2013 Canadian 4-H Council Youth Advisory Committee – Ontario Representative. In this position, Valeria brings the views and issues of Ontario 4-H youth to the Canadian 4-H Council Youth Advisory Committee discussions. As part of her role, this year Valerie attended the Canadian 4-H Annual General Meeting (AGM) in St. John’s, Newfoundland. Valerie had a fantastic time at the AGM and connecting with 4-H’rs and 4-H supporters from across the country. Read on for Valerie’s experience at the AGM.

Canadian 4-H Annual General Meeting in St. John’s, Newfoundland
By Valerie Stone

Calling all passengers to board Air Canada flight 654 to St. John’s, Newfoundland! We’re off to the Canadian 4-H Council Annual General Meeting (AGM). As the incoming 4-H Canada Youth Advisory Committee member from Ontario, this was my first 4-H Canada AGM.  The most welcoming thing when you get off the plane is the 4-H Volunteers with smiling faces holding that familiar logo above their heads. Instantly they greeted us, assisted us with picking up our bags, and loaded us into the van. While it was grey skies outside, inside was filled with warmth and excitement with our nation’s 4-H Annual General Meeting about to commence.

Back row: Breanne Durle (Alberta), Michael Melnychuk (Manitoba), Savannah Cheney (Saskatchewan), Kim Hooey (Ontario-Outgoing), Charles Gascon (Quebec), Kirsten Bevandick ( British Columbia), Jacob Works ( Nova Scotia) Front row: Sonya Loder (Newfoundland and Labrador), Heidi Pickard ( New Brunswick), Valerie Stone (Ontario-Incoming), Gary Skogberg (The Co-operators), and Matthew Tweedy (Prince Edward Island)

It started off by meeting each province`s Youth Advisory Committee member and getting to know one another.  Being able to put a face to a name, and voice you have heard on teleconferences, was just the start of people I met throughout the AGM. The next morning 4-H Canada held a welcome orientation breakfast for all delegates who had never attended a 4-H Canada AGM. By 7 a.m. the networking had begun. Mike Nowosad, CEO of 4-H Canada, and Rob Black, President of the Canadian 4-H Council, had sponsors, YAC members, and provincial representatives all acquainted. By the end of the networking sessions anyone attending the AGM knew you by your face and not your name tag.

During the Canadian 4-H Council AGM the Youth Advisory Committee did a presentation on a topic that has resulted in a fair amount of discussion over the past few months: Future Leaders. We, the Youth Advisory Committee, took a position about how the Future Leaders program could work and created and delivered a presentation that covered the following areas: (1) a purpose to standardize age range, (2) engage senior Members, (3) develop member skills, (4) increase membership and keep Members involved in 4-H.  Our presentation allowed the other delegates attending the AGM to hear about how this program could work and it opened the door to more networking throughout the conference.

Over the next few days I talked to many representatives from organizations that sponsor 4-H including John Deere, Farm Credit Canada, The Co-operators, Enbridge, and Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show, just to name a few. I also got the opportunity to speak with past presidents of the Canadian 4-H Council and Council members from other provinces. I was able to learn about how different 4-H is across Canada, but also, how we are all connected; the 4-H logo is the piece that brings us all together. These individuals also gave us a lot of feedback on our presentation. This feedback was really valuable and the Youth Advisory Committee held a meeting to incorporate the feedback and submit this document alongside our presentation to all the provincial offices.

At the Annual Meeting banquet we witnessed thirteen 4-H delegates receive a Queen`s Jubilee Medal for their contributions to 4-H throughout Canada. It was very rewarding to be able to be acquainted with such an amazing room of people.

That matching logo! The connecting part between each Member’s head, heart, health and hands from the East coast waters, above mountains, through the Prairies, across fields, by parliament hill, around the Maritimes and to the West coast waters. The 4-H Canada logo connects each and every one of us who is a part of 4-H. It is the same grass roots across Canada.

Kim, Valerie and Marianne
Kim Hooey, Marianne Fallis (4-H Ontario Senior Manager, Programming) and Valerie Stone

As I return back to Ontario I am excited for the future of 4-H in our own province, as well as across Canada. I would like to thank Kim Hooey for attending the 4-H Canada AGM as outgoing YAC member from Ontario, the Ontario 4-H Council for providing me the opportunity to attend the 4-H Canada AGM, and Gary Skogberg from The Co-Operators for their sponsorship of the Youth Advisory Committee.

I look forward to being the Youth Advisory Committee member from Ontario over the next few years and I hope to see all of you in September at Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show! The Youth Advisory Committee will be in attendance over the three days to kick off 4-H Canada’s “100 for 100″ fundraising campaign.

Anne Arksey’s 4-H Story

As part of the development of our new 4-H Ontario Alumni Program, which is funded through a Promotional Partnership with Hyland Seeds, including the position of 4-H Ontario’s Coordinator, Alumni Services, we’ve been asking 4-H Alumni across the province to share their 4-H story.

Share Your 4-H Story

Today I’d like to share Anne Arksey’s 4-H story. Anne was both a 4-H Member and Volunteer during her tenure with 4-H. Like many 4-H’rs across Ontario, the program had a big impact on Anne’s life. Thank you Anne for taking the time to share your story.

Remember, whether you are a Member, Volunteer or Alumni, we would love to hear your 4-H story. Don’t be shy, give us a call or email and tell us what 4-H means to you.


“Learn To Do By Doing”
By Anne Arksey

My first 4-H project was sewing my own dress when I was twelve years old.  I had looked forward to my first 4-H Club with excitement since 12 was the magic age when you could join a club back in 1968 .  I attended the Minesing Club which was led by Mrs. Isabel Downey, and all of the girls were older than me.  After that first club, my mother, Mrs. Dorothy C. Giffen, and her friend, Mrs. Mabel Maw, started a club in Edenvale. Mrs. Wendy Ploeg later joined as a leader.  My sister and I went faithfully to all of the clubs, and were thrilled with the silver spoons we received at the end of each unit.  Our goal was to reach 21 units when we would receive a silver pie server (which I continue to use today!)

4-H developed a sense of responsibility, and commitment.  The expectations were high for our behavior and our attention to detail in everything we did – from our record books, conducting meetings, to our completed project.  We always looked forward to 4-H evenings – especially the ones where we learned to cook or bake and we got to sample the food!  I found that I used many of the lessons I learned in 4-H later on for raising my own family.  My sister and I both became 4-H Leaders when our own daughters were old enough to join 4-H.  I was pleased that I was able to share this with my daughter.  One highlight was when our Calf 4-H club toured ranches in Michigan and we also visited Michigan State University.

Showing my calf at the Royal Winter Fair in the Queen’s Guineas is a memory I will never forget since my white charolais calf backed in a glass door, breaking the door into many fragments, while cutting my calf’s tail.  Kind Albertan’s sewed up my calf’s tail and helped calm my nerves.

Anne Arksey

Anne with one of her 4-H calves

Taking part in the 4-H Leadership Courses was also valuable and I met people from throughout the province of Ontario.  I gained lots of friendships and experiences while in 4-H.  What a fabulous pledge to live by –  I pledge:  My Head to clearer thinking, My Heart to greater loyalty, My Hands to larger Service, My Health to better living – for my club, my community, and my country.

Meet Anne Marie Werry

As promised, here is your virtual introduction to Anne Marie Werry. This 4-H’r is a multi-tasking and organization guru. I don’t know how she manages to fit everything in her day! Seems to be a common theme for our Syngenta 4-H Ontario Arbor Award winners…

Next week we’ll meet Brian O’Neill. _____________________________________________________________________________

Anne Marie Werry: The Multi-Tasking Guru

Anne Marie Werry’s 4-H journey began when she was 12 years old. Like Deborah, and many other 4-H’rs, Anne Marie joined 4-H as soon as she could. For Anne Marie, 4-H was a family affair. Her parents, their siblings, and her siblings, had all been involved in 4-H and she was excited to join this family loved organization.

Upon joining 4-H, Anne Marie became a very active 4-H Member in the Victoria area where she participated in over 18 Clubs. She participated in a wide variety of life skills Clubs, as well as dairy Clubs. Anne Marie’s life skills Club experiences had a tremendous impact on her. “I had the greatest Leaders. My homemaking Leaders were the coolest ladies and we did so many things together,” said Anne Marie. Anne Marie learned many valuable skills in her homemaking Clubs that she still references today.

1975 Provincial Leadership Camp

Anne Marie at Provincial Leadership Camp in 1975

Her desire to give back to 4-H Ontario led her directly into volunteering after her Member tenure was completed. “4-H always encouraged you to give back. You get so much out of the program so why would you not give back and share you knowledge?” notes Anne Marie.

“4-H always encouraged you to give back. You get so much out of the program so why would you not give back and share you knowledge?” notes Anne Marie.

Anne Marie began the process of giving back by leading a 4-H Heritage Club. In the spirit of “Learn To Do By Doing”, she of course learned a thing or two about her family history in the process of running the Club. “It’s a neat way of learning how to search your history and make a family tree.”

When Anne Marie married, she decided to take a break from volunteering to focus on her family. Because volunteering was such a large component of Anne Marie’s life, she couldn’t stay away for too long and she continued her volunteer career as soon as she was able to sneak away some time for herself. “Volunteering is a real social thing for me and I love what I do,” she said.

Anne Marie and her son

Anne Marie with her son, Dan

Today, Anne Marie has been volunteering with 4-H Ontario for 12 years. She’s lead dairy, veterinary science and dance Clubs. Anne Marie is also an active member of many other community organizations including the Brooklin Agriculture Society, the Catholic Women’s League, Kedron Park Association and the Lindsay Fair, just to name a few. “4-H and fair organizing has always been in my blood,” she jokes.

Anne Marie’s contributions to her community are definitely appreciated and do not go unnoticed. On top of winning the Syngenta 4-H Ontario Arbor Award, in December she also received a Maple Leaf Service Pin from her church, St. Joseph the Worker.

When asked why she chooses to devote so much of her time to volunteering, she simply says that she likes helping others. “I feel good doing something for other people. It just makes your life so much richer when you can be a part of so many different people’s lives.” When she is not volunteering, Anne Marie can be found supply teaching for the Durham Catholic School board, helping out on the her family farm, working out at her local gym, and spending time with friends and family including her husband Eldon and three amazing children; Maria, Sarah, and Dan.

“I feel good doing something for other people. It just makes your life so much richer when you can be a part of so many different people’s lives.”

Anne Marie is a 4-H success story, living legend, and inspiration to everyone. 4-H Ontario is lucky to have her as a Volunteer.

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.


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.


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.