Wednesday, 25 January 2012

The 4 'H's of Youth Development

By: Amanda Cowan 
Head, Heart, Hands and Heath. Four small words that have had a huge impact on me and who I am today. In case you were wondering, these are what the 4 “H’s” stand for in the 4-H program.
4-H is one of Canada’s longest running youth organizations for youth aged 9 to 21. Since 1913, the 4-H program have been providing youth with so many amazing opportunities while helping them to learn new things and develop leadership skills through a dedicated group of volunteer leaders. 

The reason I am telling you all of this is because I’d like to share with you the benefits of the program and the impact it has had on my life. Although, when you think of 4-H, you probably instantly think of country kids or think that you have to live on a farm to be in 4-H. This is far from the truth! 4-H offers many types of clubs! Yes, there are the Dairy clubs, Horse clubs and Sheep clubs…the typical ones you would think of but did you know that they also offer clubs such as Scrapbooking, Photography, Veterinary, Knitting, Cooking and in our county, we’ve even had a Snowmobiling Club! There are so many clubs out there to suit many people’s different interests. There are so many opportunities at your fingertips through the 4-H program as well, such as scholarships, exchange programs, leadership conferences and camps. So many different opportunities to expand your horizons, become a leader, make new friends and have fun while doing it. 

I began in the 4-H program when I was 10 years old, at that time, 10 was the starting age, it has since been changed to 9, and completed my last club at the age of 21. I have taken part in clubs such as Horse Club, Chocolate Club, Cultural Diversity Club and my personal favourite, Dairy Club. I grew up on a dairy farm, milking purebred Holstein cattle and although I enjoyed the farm, my true passion for it began when I began to show our calves. I learned, through lots of help from my dad and my 4-H leaders, how to care for my 4-H project each year, how to feed them properly to keep them in show ring condition, how to clip and fit my animal for a show ring and continue to develop my showmanship skills by working with my animal as much as possible. I also quickly learned how to work as a team at shows when tying all the animals together. Year by year, I attended more shows and created more opportunities and eventually began showing at the Royal Winter Fair on a regular basis. To qualify to attend this show is a huge reward for all the hard work throughout the year. 

Upon my high school graduation, I went on to attend McGill University, MacDonald Campus in the 3 year Farm Management and Technology program. From there, I went on to work for Wilfrid Major Feed Mill, a Shur Gain dealer, as a nutrition consultant. Although, I loved my job there, I realized that I loved being in the barn, looking at cows, finding out their pedigrees and I, therefore, made a change. I now work for Select Sires Canada as a sales representative and I couldn’t love my job more. I love working in an industry that I am so passionate about and I have to give that credit to the 4-H program. It was because of this program that I have the confidence to do what I do, have so many of the contacts and friendships that I do and most of all have such a love for this amazing industry. 

*Note: For any youth interested in the 4-H program, CD-AG highly suggests this program as a way to not only learn new skills, but also as a way to meet many new and wonderful friends. It should be mentioned that it certainly is not just a program for rural youth, but youth from all walks of life- both from the city and from the country. If you are interested in learning more about the 4-H program, head on over to 4-H Canada's website to find out how YOU can get involved!

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