By Ryan Métivier Among the numerous volunteers, members and staff who attended CAM 2014 in Waterloo, Ontario last month, were also a couple of our 4-H friends from the sunny south of Jamaica. Dwain Moodie, Parish Development Officer at Jamaica 4-H Clubs and Devon Blake, Chairman and Public Relations Officer of the National Advisory Committee from St. Thomas, made the trip up north to experience 4-H life in Ontario and Canada. At the local level Blake is also a member of the Council at the St. Thomas Parish. In 2013, 4-H Ontario sent three staff members to Jamaica for a weeklong trip that included extensive networking, government meetings, information gathering, and resource sharing, particularly in regards to youth programming and projects.

From left to right: Dwain Moodie, Marianne Fallis, Shonna Ward, Devon Blake.

4-H Ontario is benefitting from a unique international partnership with 4-H St. Thomas Parish, of Jamaica, which sees the two organizations share programming and operational knowledge, as well as valuable historical and organizational notes. In 2014, it was Ontario’s turn to host the Jamaican delegates. Moodie and Blake arrived in Ontario earlier in the week leading up to CAM, with a goal to experience the different workings of 4-H in another country, experience some new culture and maybe take some of the things they learned back to their home country and parish (what we call provinces). The two had a busy itinerary planned for them that included a visit to their first Tim Horton’s, a stop through the 4-H Ontario office, the University of Guelph, several 4-H farms, St. Jacob’s Market and sitting in on a 4-H Chocolate Club where they had cookie tastings, made cookies and enjoyed the evening with 4-H members. Seeing some of the farming equipment we use here was a great learning experience for them as well. “We went out to John den Haan’s farm and we saw dairy. The experience was unique in that the technology used here, we don’t really have much of that yet in Jamaica,” said Blake. Moodie has been involved in 4-H most of his life—from this time as a clubite (what we call a member), to a year of volunteering, and now working with Jamaican 4-H Clubs for the past eight years. He says his love of 4-H comes from knowing he’s able to impact the lives of youth and see the changes that take place in their lives. His visit to Canada was his first flight out of Jamaica and to Canada. “I enjoyed meeting 4-H people, building relationships and being around and seeing the different farms and going to club meetings,” he said. He was also probably the first visitor to Canada who chose “the snow” as one of his favourite parts of the trip as well. In contrast, Blake says he gave his best effort to adapt to the cold temperatures and sleet and rain, but said you’ll never hear him tell anybody that he loves it. “If there was something that was disappointing it was that we weren’t able to go to Niagara Falls because you guys decided to freeze the falls,” he said with a laugh. So the snow may or may not be something our Jamaican friends are looking to bring back with them, however there were several other things which they will. “The Open Mic session was good,” said Moodie. “We also got an opportunity to see how you guys recognize your volunteers and that you recognize your sponsors as well. That is something great.” He also enjoyed seeing how involved and dedicated the Planning Committee was to organizing an event like CAM. “At one of the farms I was able to hold a sheep in my hand for the first time in my life,” said Blake. “I was also able to hold a rabbit and able to jump a rabbit over obstacles for the first time in my life too. That rabbit jumping is definitely going to be a new Jamaican experience.” He also spoke of his desire to incorporate a trivia wheel into their events and that he liked our auction system. Would they come back to Canada? “I would do again,” said Moodie. “I’d like to come back to Canada and basically engage other 4-H members and to learn more about the general culture.” “I would definitely come back to Canada,” adds Blake. “It was my first time. I loved the experience. The people are very warm and friendly. They are a bit more disciplined than I am in terms of being on time. But that is something I can work on.” For more information on the partnership between 4-H Ontario and the Jamaican 4-H Clubs click here.