Suzanne Barker of Kawartha Lakes Haliburton 4-H Association and Darrell Bergsma of the Huron 4-H Association Honoured at Ceremony

Guelph, ON (March 27, 2024) – 4-H Ontario is proud to announce the recipients of the 2024 4-H Ontario Arbor Award, a prestigious honour recognizing exemplary volunteer service with 4-H Ontario and the community. This year we are honouring the work of two long-serving volunteers: Suzanne Barker of Kawartha Lakes Haliburton 4-H Association and Darrell Bergsma of the Huron 4-H Association.

Suzanne and Darrell were honoured at the 4-H Ontario Arbor Awards Banquet on March 23, 2024, with family, friends, fellow volunteers and the 4-H Ontario staff and provincial board of directors. Each recipient received a special hand-crafted metal tree sculpture, and will also select a tree to be planted in a location of their choice to honour their contributions.

“As in past years, the 2024 4-H Ontario Arbor Award recipients have given many years of valuable service to 4-H in their respective communities,” says Megan Burnside-Poitras, Volunteer and Database Manager, 4-H Ontario. “The impact that each of these individuals has had on the lives of volunteers and youth around them is significant and their contributions serve as an outstanding example of what it means to truly embrace volunteerism within the 4-H program.”

As noted by Christine Oldfield, Executive Director, 4-H Ontario: “All 4-H volunteers give so much of their time and expertise and have truly helped our organization become what it is today – one of the top youth-serving programs in the world. That’s why we are always happy to celebrate our volunteers – especially those that have gone above and beyond for many years. We are very pleased to honour both Suzanne and Darrell for their incredible commitments by presenting each of them the Arbor Award.”

Established in 2001 during the International Year of the Volunteer, the 4-H Ontario Arbor Award recognizes a select group of 4-H Ontario volunteers who have served the organization for over 10 years and have positively impacted 4-H and their local community. This is 4-H Ontario’s most prestigious volunteer award.

To be eligible to receive the award, 4-H Ontario volunteers must be nominated by a local 4-H Association. Nominees must have shown significant leadership, initiative and made a positive impact on 4-H at various levels. In addition, nominees must have other involvement within their community or other volunteer organizations. The selection committee consists of previous Arbor Award winners.

Learn more about each of the 2024 4-H Ontario Arbor Award recipients below.

Suzanne Barker of Kawartha Lakes Haliburton 4-H Association

Suzanne Barker has volunteered with the Kawartha Lakes Haliburton (KLH) 4-H Association for over 35 years as board director, club leader, committee volunteer and regional board representative. One of Suzanne’s legacies is volunteering with the association’s annual fundraiser – the food booth, as well as supporting the Region 3 judging competition.

KLH Volunteer, Secretary and Association Representative Edna White writes: “Suzanne is dedicated and loyal, has the ability to inspire others, has the willingness and initiative to take on any task, and the innate ability to create a welcoming environment for volunteers and especially youth participants – who light up when they see Suzanne because they know they are going to have fun and learn something new and interesting.”

KLH 4-H President Cheryl Crowe says: “Suzanne always has a smile on her face and enjoys helping all 4-H participants and volunteers to ‘Learn to do by Doing’.”

In addition to dedicating her time to 4-H, Suzanne has also volunteered for over 30 years at the Lindsay Agricultural Society (LAS) as Director, President, Chairperson and Fair Ambassador.

Says Suzanne, as she reflected on winning the award, “I could hardly wait to turn 12 so I could join 4-H.  That excitement is still there some 35 years later. The lifetime friendships I have made, the excitement for the projects, the awards you receive, holding a position on the executive – all this gives you confidence to speak in front of people, and to do so many other great things.”

Darrell Bergsma of Huron 4-H Association

Darrell Bergsma has volunteered with 4-H for 23 years with the Huron County 4-H Association, and in his time has served as President and AR as well as serving on the Provincial Board of Directors.

Well-known for running Huron County’s annual E-Recycling Day which raises funds for the organization, Darrell is also an integral part of the association’s successful swine club. He also supports 4-H Ontario programs by volunteering at the Impact Conference, Discovery Days and as a camp facilitator.

As noted by Sarah Shapton, current President of the Huron County 4-H Association: “Darrell uses his head when making decisions to improve programming; his heart is full of passion for the program, he is not afraid to get his hands dirty to make progress and the community benefits healthwise from his commitment.”

Darrell is also a longstanding member of the Huron Pioneer Thresher and Hobby Association’s Board of Directors, and VP Laura McDonald writes: “Darrell is a shining example of an ideal community member and volunteer. He recognizes his strengths and offers He is committed, hard-working, driven and a devoted volunteer that we are proud to have as part of our organization.” 

When asked what 4-H means to him, Darrell said: “To me 4-H is so much more than just Head, Heart Hands and Health — 4-H is family. 4-H has played a big part in who I am today and has helped me learn that I can lead and facilitate groups well — it has taught me many skills and talents, I didn’t know I had.

4-H has many meanings for different people, but to me, it means a lifetime of memories that I will never forget.”

Nomination forms for the 2025 Arbor Awards will be posted on the 4-H Ontario website in the fall, and the deadline for nominations is Sunday, November 30, 2024.


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.

(Photo by Lyndsay Berry)

For more information please contact:

Mary Haurilak,

Manager, Communications, 4-H Ontario

Tel: 519.803.5026,