Hi everyone! I’m going to take this golden opportunity to introduce myself to you all, my name is Danielle and I am the new Summer Communications Assistant for 4-H Ontario AND the newest blogger for 4-H Folklore! I look forward to sharing the awesome stories of 4-H’rs all over Ontario with you. For my first post I’d like to share the story of the person who inspired me to join the 4-H team, my friend Heather Hargrave. Heather has been involved in 4-H, one way or another, for most of her life. Her family owns an angus cattle farm in Maxwell, Ontario which is how she got started showing cattle. From Dundalk Agricultural Junior Calf Club to becoming a 4-H Leader, read on as Heather shares her 4-H experiences and how 4-H helped her get where she is today. _____________________________________________________________________________ Growing Up in 4-H By Heather Hargrave Heather HargraveI got my first taste of 4-H before I was old enough to join the program.  My Dad and Uncle had been active in 4-H and showing cattle at fairs across Ontario, so they encouraged my brothers and I to participate in the Dundalk Agricultural Junior Calf Program at the local Fall Fair; a club for kids who thought they might join 4-H someday. My brothers and I then joined 4-H once we were old enough. The initial reason behind my joining the Dundalk Agriculture Junior Calf Program and 4-H was the responsibility of taking care of an animal, though I also enjoyed going to the fairs and competing.  I can still to this day remember the name of every animal that I looked after for the Dundalk Agricultural Junior Calf Program and 4-H projects – all 16 of them.

It was nice to have friends that didn’t think I was crazy for getting up at 4 a.m. on a weekend to go to a fair

When I first started in 4-H, the part that I loved most was competing; I liked finishing first whether it was with my calf or in a showmanship class.  As I got older the program became more about the people that were in it; it was nice to have a group of friends in my area, as well as other areas of the province, that had the same interests that I did and didn’t think I was crazy for getting up at 4 a.m. on a weekend to go to a fair.

Heather Hargrave with cow Barbara in 1997

Heather Hargrave at a competition with cow Barbara in 1997

A lot of other good memories happened because of 4-H as well. Growing up, most of our family vacations and weekends in the summer and fall revolved around 4-H shows and showing cattle. Because of this, I’m really close with my two brothers.  We travelled all across Canada together and experienced the wins and the losses together. There are a lot of skills and lessons I’ve learned from my 4-H experience that I still use today. The judging skills I acquired through 4-H, help me make decisions, formulate reasons why I made that decision, and justify my choices. 4-H also builds leaders and teaches its Members about leadership.  Having the confidence and the skills necessary to take on new challenges is a huge part of personal and professional development.  I find the opportunities and experiences I had in 4-H have given me the confidence to continue to push myself and try new things both personally and in my job.

Heather Hargrave with cow

Heather Hargrave with cow Roxy in 2005

Today, I’m the Program Coordinator for Farm & Food Care Ontario , a not-for-profit organization that provides information about food and farming. After highschool, when I was trying to decide what to study and which university to attend, my 4-H experience played a big role in my decision making process. The life long passion I have for agriculture which started because of 4-H, lead to me choose to study Agricultural Business at the University of Guelph.  I was hoping to find a career in the industry once I graduated, and that’s just what I did. I’m sure my involvement with 4-H helped me land a job with an organization that I believe is providing a great service to the agriculture industry. I’ve remained involved with 4-H by becoming a 4-H Leader.  I had been a 4-H Alumnus for two months before I was approached to help lead a Beef Club in Wellington Association.  I really enjoy teaching the kids about different facets of the industry and helping them achieve their goals.  It’s really rewarding for me, as a Leader, to see how much personal growth each Member achieves over the course of the 4-H Club, and to see them succeed in other activities and parts of their lives.  That’s truly what 4-H is all about – growing future leaders. _____________________________________________________________________________ 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!