GUELPH, ONT. (October 25, 2022) – 4-H Ontario proudly announces the recipients of the 2022 4-H Ontario Outstanding New Club Leader Award, sponsored by Gay Lea Foods. The 2022 recipients include Rebecca Vissers of Durham-East 4-H Association (Region 3), Trish Downey of South Simcoe 4-H Association (Region 4) and Kaitlin McKay of Oxford 4-H Association (Region 6).  

The 4-H Ontario Outstanding New Club Leader Award celebrates volunteers who have been 4-H club leaders for less than three years and embody the 4-H pledge in their work with local youth. Nominations are accepted across the province, with one award given in each region. Award recipients receive a custom print commissioned by 4-H Ontario and sponsored by Gay Lea Foods.

“This year’s recipients of the 4-H Ontario Outstanding New Club Leader Award are prime examples for how 4-H volunteers bring the best of their heads, hearts, hands, and health to their work with youth each and every day,” says Megan Burnside-Poitras, Manager, Volunteer and Database, 4-H Ontario. “In only a few years, these dedicated individuals have contributed in tremendously impactful ways and our program is better for having them involved.”

“Gay Lea is pleased to partner with 4-H Ontario and offer support to recognize the 4-H volunteers selected for this award. These leaders demonstrate the 4-H ideals to their members, delivering valuable leadership and life skills to our youth. We congratulate them on receiving this award and encourage them to continue to influence in their communities,” says Marie McNabb, Director, Gay Lea Foods.

Read on to learn about the 2022 4-H Ontario Outstanding New Club Leader Award recipients.

Rebecca Vissers

Region 3 – Durham-East 4-H Association

Rebecca has been a 4-H volunteer since 2019 and has lead clubs such as Goat and Animal Friends. As an active member of the community and 4-H alumni, a fellow volunteer notes that, “You could tell she was born to be a 4-H leader.” Rebecca was instrumental in leading one of the only virtual clubs in the Durham East 4-H Association throughout the first years of the pandemic. In every club she leads, it is evident that she gives it her all. Thoughtfully planned meetings with speakers and unique opportunities for youth are just some of the ways she goes above and beyond for 4-H. One participant shares, “I get so excited when it’s the night of a meeting because I know that I will be going home with so much knowledge from Becky.”

Trish Downey
Region 4 – South Simcoe 4-H Association

Trish became a 4-H volunteer in 2019 and quickly took an active role in the South Simcoe 4-H Association. Over her tenure she has led several clubs including Cloverbuds, Hiking, Judging, Vet Medicine, Dairy and Mountain Biking, but also dedicated time to special events like Go For The Gold and in 2022 she became a director on the South Simcoe 4-H Board of Directors. When it comes to fundraising, Trish is always there to lend a helping hand with events and in the search for club sponsors. One participant shares, “Trish is one of those leaders who continues to put effort into every one of her meetings to ensure that learning and fun is had by all – both senior and novice members.” She always encourages youth to do their best, try new things and be persistent and her time and dedication is felt by all youth and volunteers she interacts with.

Kaitlin McKay

Region 6 – Oxford 4-H Association

Kaitlin has been a 4-H volunteer since 2020 and has lead several 4-H clubs during her tenure, including Our Great Outdoors, Cookie, Community Involvement, Pollinator, Adopt-A-Grandparent, My Plate and The Planet. Quickly taking an active role in the Oxford 4-H Association, it is easily noted that Kaitlin goes above and beyond following the 4-H pledge. “She leads clubs in a way that makes [youth] think about the world and people around them,” says fellow volunteer. For example, in the Adopt-A-Grandparent club, Kaitlin gave youth a look at what seniors with dementia and Alzheimer’s face daily by having youth wear oven mitts and headphones to complete everyday tasks. “Kaitlyn is always encouraging and [shares new ideas] to improve our community, club and world whether it be planting a garden or helping at local events,” says youth participant.


About 4-H Ontario

4-H Ontario is a non-profit positive youth development organization that builds youth as leaders within their communities and assets to the world. With roots in rural Ontario, today it is open to youth of all backgrounds across the province. 4-H youth ages 6–21 and screened, engaged volunteer leaders come together to learn about selected topics through fun hands-on activities and mentorship. There are also provincial camps, conferences, competitions, and national and international travel opportunities available to further develop skills in leadership, business, self-confidence and more. 4-H provides youth with a place they can be involved, accepted, valued and heard while developing valuable skills for leadership and life.

For more information, please contact:

Laura Goulding, Manager, Communications, 4-H Ontario


About Gay Lea Foods

Gay Lea Foods is a Canadian dairy farmer-owned co-operative known for its co-operative-inspired value and high quality, innovative and award-winning dairy and food products.

Leading with principles that empower Canadian farmers, prioritize partnerships and support rural businesses and communities, they operate facilities in urban areas of Ontario, Manitoba and Alberta, as well as in smaller, rural communities across Ontario, including Madoc, Stirling, Teeswater, Hagersville and Thornloe.

For more information, please contact:

Marie McNabb, Director, Gay Lea Foods