4-H Ontario

2017 Message from the Executive Director

You can learn so much in 4-H! There are over 100 different topics to learn about. One of my most memorable 4-H clubs as a child was the quilting club. I loved the creative process, and the freedom to put various patterns and colours together in a scheme that I created.  When I look back on the past year in 4-H, I can see the creative process, the patterns and colours that 4-H’ers (staff and volunteers together) have used to create something of which we can all be proud.
The 4-H program is like a quilt.   
It is a patchwork of people from all over the province, from cities and along concessions, where children, young adults and older adults all come together to create and learn. It is in the design of 4-H that youth and adults work together in partnership. The quilt is designed with multiple layers, just as 4-H comes together with local, provincial, national and even global levels of partnership.
The activities in 4-H can be very traditional, like the art of hand stitching a quilt. However, much of 4-H is not traditional at all. As a youth program, the participants challenge the leaders to break from tradition and try new things. Like each quilt block, each youth, each leader and each club is unique. 4-H is a patchwork of small pieces of clubs and Associations that are woven together to create a beautiful, meaningful masterpiece which each of us will treasure forever because we have been a part of creating it.  It is a quality piece of work. It is worked on by many hands, sharing stories, solving difficulties, and trying new techniques. The leaders work hard to create quality experiences for young people to grow, learn and lead. Youth are reporting increased confidence and leaderships skills from their camp and conference experiences. Each experience is unique and memorable as it is designed to bring out the very best in each person.
Qulits also have a foundation, like 4-H has a Foundation. It provides stability. The Ontario 4-H Foundation has grown in 2017 with more donors, more successful fundraising and more profile in local communities across the province.
The binding that holds the 4-H quilt together is our common values, our four H’s and our desire to create positive experiences for youth in our communities. Last year, we found a few new ways to fit pieces together with partnerships developed that combine strengths across organizations for the benefit of our young people and the agriculture industry.
Some quilts have embellishments that add another dimension to the quilt. In 2017, it became possible for 4-H members in one high school to receive credit for their club work. As well, 4-H members attending the Ontario Agricultural College at the University of Guelph came together to form a 4-H campus club. This has added new dimensions to the value of being a 4-H member.
Quilts can include both old and new fabric and thread. Some pieces of fabric may be historic, and some may be just picked up at the store because they are new and shiny. 4-H welcomes multiple generations to come together. The 4-H program is expanding by welcoming more Cloverbuds (6-8 year olds) to the program, and more volunteers to lead them. In the 4-H quilt, the many patterns and colours appear in the members, the leaders, the staff, the youth in the Cloverbud projects, the board directors and the alumni. 4-H is both deep in tradition and rich in variety.   
It is only by cooperating have we been able to create this beautiful quilt of 4-H. Thank you to all the 4-H’ers for creating the experiences that foster confidence, build skills and nurture community connectedness. It is a wonderful creation!