Written By: Rhiannah Gallagher

Having completed 32 clubs in just over 11 years means I have a lot of 4-H memories, and depending on the day, my answer to the question “what is my favourite 4-H club memory” changes. There is even a blog already posted on the 4-H Ontario website about one of the most impactful moments in my 4-H career, which you can find here.

But if I had to pick just one, I would have to go all the way back to my very first year in 4-H. That year I completed one club, the East Carleton Sheep club. I spent the whole year picking my lamb, training it and learning all I could about the sheep industry and everything 4-H had to offer me. I was officially hooked on 4-H and knew that I wanted to do this for the rest of my life.

When my parents tell this story, they always emphasize that they checked in with me all throughout the summer about the fact that, since I had a market lamb, it would be sold at the regional 4-H show lamb and steer auction. I was adamant that I was okay with that! My lamb, whose name was Thumper, gave me lots of problems and I had to chase him down the farm laneway more than once. I was sure that I could sell him no problem!

I was wrong. The night of the sale came, and I was bawling my eyes out. I did not think I could do this, but my parents, 4-H leaders and senior members of my 4-H club encouraged me, and I decided I could do it.

This brings me to one of my favourite parts of this story! A senior member of my 4-H club offered to go into the sale ring with me, to give me courage and support as I sold my very first 4-H project animal. I will never forget how grateful I was to that member for not shaming me for the tears and for encouraging me to do something – that at that moment – I didn’t think I could do. This senior member embodied the 4-H spirit to me that day and every day since I’ve tried to spend my time in 4-H just like she did; inspiring, mentoring, and supporting my fellow members as we all work toward a common goal of learning to do by doing!

I entered that sale ring with the senior member by my side. I may have cried, but I did sell my lamb that night. The best part of the story is that the couple that bought my lamb decided to give the lamb back to me! So, it all worked out in the end.

Rhiannah kneeling down beside her show lamb with the couple who purchased the lamb at the 155th Metcalfe Fair
Rhiannah and her show lamb with the couple who purchased him at the 4-H Regional Championship Show and Sale at the 155th Metcalfe Fair.

This story is now infamous at the 4-H Regional Championship Show and Sale. I can’t walk into that sale ring without the auctioneers bringing it up, but I wouldn’t change it for anything. I learned a lot that year, and I’ve learned a lot every year since. I know my journey with 4-H would have looked a lot different if this hadn’t happened.

I’m grateful for each and every one of my memories from my time in the 4-H program. From the recent memories as an ambassador to those from years ago as a novice member. Each of these memories has shaped my time in 4-H, taught me invaluable lessons and encouraged me to become a 4-H leader once I graduate from the program!

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Written By 4-H Ontario Ambassador, Rhiannah Gallagher

Rhiannah is a student at the University of Guelph studying BSc Animal Biology.