4-H Ontario Volunteer Conference

Logo of the Volunteer Conference. Two people holding a puzzle pieces together with the title. Building Connections 4 Brighter Horizons
You are invited to the 2024 4-H Ontario Volunteer Conference ‘Building Connections 4 Brighter Horizons’, hosted by Region 1.

When: March 22-23, 2024
Where: Sheraton Parkway Toronto North Hotel, 600 Highway 7 Richmond Hill, ON

*Registration after March 8 is not accepted

Check out the SPEAKERS, WORKSHOPS and AGENDA below!

The 4-H Volunteer Conference will be hosted in-person on March 22-23, 2024 at the Sheraton Parkway Toronto North Hotel. This event will not include a virtual component.

The pre-conference activities begin on Friday, March 22, 2024 with hotel and conference registration, In The Know Workshop, networking, resource displays, Swap Table and early bird sessions such as “Tools For Your Back Pocket”, Local Association roundtable discussion and a session for local Membership Coordinators.  Followed by the Ontario 4-H Council Annual General Meeting (AGM), the conference kick off, and social activities to close the opening day.

The energy and excitement will truly be brighter on Saturday, March 23, 2024 with social media guru-Ag Advocate Andrew Campbell, who will share the Value of Making A Connection, as the conference keynote speaker. The 4-H Ontario Volunteer Support Staff team will lead the regional jam sessions, followed by a second morning session with some interactive sessions and tips to encourage more volunteer engagement. Lunch on Saturday will have a spotlight on the 4-H Ontario Ambassador inductions and recognition celebration. The afternoon is filled with more educational workshops and activities, including positive youth development, meeting management, bringing out the best in youth and even some meaningful movement. All delegates are invited to attend the prestigious 4-H Ontario Arbor Award dinner and presentations. Be sure to bring your bidding arm to participate in the 4-H Ontario Live Auction. There is also a silent auction throughout the weekend, that we encourage everyone to check out. Saturday caps off with entertainment and a social and networking time.

Here is what past delegates said about previous 4-H Ontario Volunteer Conferences:

4-H Ontario Volunteer Conference Workshop Topics

Pre-Conference Session

In the Know: Mental Health Workshop for the Agriculture Community  

In the Know is a mental health literacy workshop designed specifically for farmers, their families and those who are involved and/or support the agriculture sector. Through this four-hour workshop, participants will cover the topics of stress, depression, anxiety, substance use and how to start a conversation about mental well-being.


Afternoon Session

Networking Roundtable Discussion:  Pop in and learn from other amazing 4-H volunteers. Share ideas of what has worked well, unique projects, maybe even fundraiser ideas or community outreach activities, that others can hear about and try out in their local association.

Membership Coordinator Round-Table Chat:  This is a session designed for those who serve as the Membership Coordinator for their local Association. Come and gather with your fellow Membership Coordinators to discuss updates for 2024 and to chat with others who share the same role about best practices from across the province that might benefit you! This opportunity for a face-to-face gathering will help to enhance the Membership Coordinator Community!

Volunteer Program Infrastructure: This workshop focuses on all the programs, tasks, and activities essential to producing a strong, sustainable, and effective volunteer program.  This workshop will highlight all the things most Board Directors, Senior Leaders and many staff and volunteers don’t see or realize need to take place to offer volunteers a meaningful and impactful experience.  This workshop will guide you through getting all the foundational pieces in place before the volunteer recruitment ‘ask’ is made.


Tools For Your Back Pocket: Come out and learn some refreshing group activities that you can use with your members and 4-H club, to energize their minds and use as ice breakers, add an element of fun to your meeting agenda or 4-H event. (Repeating on Saturday)

Morning Session

Regional JAM Sessions:  Regional JAM Sessions are back on Saturday morning.  An opportunity to network with the other fabulous volunteers from within your own region.  Come and hear about upcoming events and updates from the provincial Volunteer Support team.

Navigating Leadership Dynamics: Fostering Collaboration and Constructive Conversations in Club Management: Join our workshop to delve deeper into the challenges leaders face in championing new ideas, adapting to new polices and managing club activities. Explore strategies for working harmoniously with diverse personalities, facilitating tough conversations, and bridging gaps when leaders clash. 


Meeting Management: Check back for information!


Positive Youth Development – The Magic of 4-H: How is it that 4-H can create confident, caring and contributing leaders in youth who are engaged in their communities? What happens between the time a youth starts participating in 4-H programs, and the time they leave? Positive Youth Development is a theory, a philosophical approach based in science, and an intentional practice of youth development that leads to positive outcomes and youth thriving. 4-H is magic with intention. In this session, we’ll dig into how it all happens and how you can ensure your programs set the stage for thriving in purposeful and intentional ways.


Bringing Out the Best in Youth: 4-H is about positive youth development. Volunteers in 4-H often play multiple roles that go beyond just teaching—they’re coaches, mentors, and motivators, helping young members grow not only in their skills but also as individuals.  Join Craig & John for a participative session as we discuss & share ways to bring out the best in youth and how you can have a positive influence on your members. Learn ways on how to be a coach, mentor & motivator to help youth realize their potential. (repeated in the afternoon)


Afternoon Session

NEW PROJECT UPDATE: Real Dirt on Farming: Canadian farming has an impressive story to tell, and all Canadians deserve the opportunity to make informed choices about their food and to be part of Canada’s farm story. That opportunity, though, requires credible information based on sound science. Just as The Real Dirt on Farming publication created by Farm & Food Care Ontario touches on many aspects of agriculture in Canada, so does this 4-H project resource. In the Real Dirt on Farming project, 4-H members will learn how to introduce themselves to the consumer – who they are, what they do and why they do it. This project is designed to help members address concerns, answer questions, debunk myths about food and farming, and learn how to tell their own agriculture and food story.


Bringing Out the Best in Youth: 4-H is about positive youth development. Volunteers in 4-H often play multiple roles that go beyond just teaching—they’re coaches, mentors, and motivators, helping young members grow not only in their skills but also as individuals.  Join Craig & John for a participative session as we discuss & share ways to bring out the best in youth and how you can have a positive influence on your members. Learn ways on how to be a coach, mentor & motivator to help youth realize their potential. (repeat from Saturday morning)

Volunteer Recruitment at the Local Level: Recruiting volunteers involves a thoughtful and strategic approach to attract individuals who are passionate about your cause and willing to contribute their time and skills. This workshop will provide steps and discussion on how to recruit at the local level effectively.


Movement Infusion:  Various breathing techniques, yoga inspired movements, interpretive dance and low impact pow wow dancing are infused into a 50 minute movement flow. This alternate form of self care allows the participant to experience and gain an understanding of the energy flow created by movement, and the overall physical, emotional, mental and spiritual benefits that come with it. The participants are encouraged to find the connection between self and creation through sharing of the Medicine Wheel teachings. Exploring the fire, water, air and land elements through interpretive dance gives the participants the opportunity to feel freedom in movement as they connect with the elements spiritually. This interactive workshop is great for all ages and fitness levels. **No equipment needed besides a pair of shoes to be active in**

 Spotlight on 2024 4-H Projects: Join us to see what’s new with 4-H Ontario resources as we launch the updated Cultural Diversity project, the updated Eye on Energy project and the adapted A World of Food in Canada Project, as well as three new Cloverbud units, also about A World of Food in Canada, Cultural Diversity and Eye on Energy, to add to our Year Three of Cloverbud curriculum. Also being released in 2024 (in a separate session of its own) is the updated Real Dirt on Farming project. Come to see and hear about the new and updated materials, see what activities are available, and have your questions answered about 4-H projects and the Cloverbud program.


Local Association Secretaries and Treasurers Roundtable Chat: This is a session designed for those who serve as either the Secretary and/or Treasurer for their local Association.  Come and gather with your fellow volunteers to chat with others who share the same role about best practices from across the province that might benefit you! This opportunity for a face-to-face gathering will help to enhance your position and experience.


Tools For Your Back Pocket: Come out and learn some refreshing group activities that you can use with your members and 4-H club, to energize their minds and use as ice breakers, add an element of fun to your meeting agenda or 4-H event. (repeat from Friday)

4-H Ontario Volunteer Conference Speakers 🔉

Andrew is a farmer, award winning communicator & passionate farm advocate. With the farm, he and his family milk cows as well as grow corn, soybeans, wheat & hay in Southern Ontario’s Middlesex County. On top of farming, Andrew has become a familiar voice for farmers and agriculture issues in the mainstream media, conference halls & online, pushing the positive stories that farmers across Canada have to share with their non-farming neighbours. He’s received awards that have named in a Leader in Innovation, Champion, Game-Changer & Top Agriculture Influencer for his work through written word, photographs, videos and podcasts.


Saturday Morning Keynote Address ~ The Value of Connecting: How to build a personal brand and network that you can use – Having a strong network can be incredibly valuable at building personal success which is important both short and long term. And while it takes effort, it doesn’t have to be hard. In this keynote, we’ll look at five ways to build a strong and valuable network: Opportunities, Collaboration, Mentorship, Diversity & Relationships. See how to leverage these areas for your own and your 4-H members growth.

Leslie Noble is a proud 4-H Ontario alum passionate about positive youth development and making the world a better place. She holds an MScEd from the Ontario College of Teachers, as well as a certificate in adult education, and has over 15 years of experience in education. She continues to give back to her community as a longstanding volunteer with numerous organizations, and enjoys spending time with her family, going on walks, drinking coffee, and goats!

Evelyn Chambers, Senior Manager, Volunteer and Community Engagement, 4-H Ontario

Evelyn is the Director of Professional Practice with 4-H Ontario. In this role she oversees all aspects of Risk Management including insurance, accreditation and policy development. Evelyn is also a long time supporter of fairs and is a past director and president of the Lindsay Agricultural Society, host of the Lindsay Exhibition. 

Is a team member of the 4-H Ontario staff as the Database Specialist, Kelly is responsible for managing the 4-H Ontario database and ensuring the data we capture is reflective of the hard work 4-H’ers do every day.

Christa Ormiston, Communications Manager, Farm & Food Care Ontario (FFCO)

Christa Ormiston brings a lifelong passion for agriculture and has spent her career focused on agricultural communications and marketing. Using her journalism background, she cultivates an appreciation for food and farming by connecting farm gates to dinner plates. Through FFCO projects and consumer activation, Christa focuses on giving farmers the skills and confidence they need to tell the public their stories about farming and their farm families.

Born and raised in Smiths Falls, Ontario, John Drummond is a proud product of the Lanark and Leeds 4-H programs. A strong advocate for 4-H opportunities, John has been a facilitator at PLC, FLIA, Careermania, and Discovery Days. Now in his 38th year as a leader in Waterloo Region, John leads many clubs, including Dairy, Veterinary, the Kitchener Market 4-H Club, and more recently the virtual Waterloo Wellington Cooking Clubs. John was the President of the Ontario  
4-H Council in 2006-08, Syngenta Arbor Award Winner in 2006, and Canada’s 4-H Volunteer of the Year in 2013.    

Heather has been working in the nonprofit sector since 2003 and has held a variety of roles.  In her current role as Director, Volunteer Halton, she is responsible for the development and delivery of robust education programs, assists community members to secure meaningful volunteer roles, supports charities and nonprofits in Halton Region, and advocates for the volunteer engagement profession.  A life-long volunteers, she holds the Certified in Volunteer Administration (CVA) designation from the Council for Certification in Volunteer Administration (CCVA) and is the current President of the Provincial Association of Volunteer Leaders-Ontario (PAVRO).  Heather is a tea-drinker, documentary-devotee, Blue Jays fan, and a music lover.

Elizabeth Johnston, Coordinator, Programming and Resources, 4-H Ontario

Elizabeth is the Coordinator of Programming & Resources with 4-H Ontario. She is also a 4-H volunteer and past 4-H member.  Within her role with 4-H, Elizabeth creates new 4-H projects and updates older projects and administers the Locally Submitted 4-H Project process. Elizabeth grew up and still lives on a beef farm and is a graduate of the University of Guelph. She is a director with the local Perth County Beef Farmers organization and has been a director with the Listowel Agricultural Society for the past 20 years where she now serves as their President.

Catherine is Director Risk Management and Accreditation at 4-H Canada.  She is responsible for risk management, insurance, and accreditation.  She Co-Leads the Youth Safety Standards working group with Evelyn Chambers.   


Craig is the manager of the Gay Lea Dairy Museum and Co-operative Education Centre near Aylmer.  He has lead a virtual 4-H social recreation club and has been involved with PLC for multiple years and a 4-H alumni from Lambton County. 

Over the past 10 years Adriana has worked in non-profit and social service and is passionate about educating others about Mental Health. Adriana was raised on her family’s dairy farm in Oxford County and has always been passionate about serving the agriculture community. In her spare time Adriana is a 4-H volunteer leading cooking projects and volunteers for her local agricultural society.

Faith’s unique combination of skills, experiences, and personal attributes positions her well in her new role as the Volunteer Recruitment and Retention Advisor with 4-H Ontario. Her history with the organization and working with the Volunteer Support Team is valuable when understanding and addressing the needs of volunteers and program participants.

Faith’s initiative in running her own company, E.B.Jjules Balance & Mental Health, demonstrates a personal and professional mandate of removing the stigma of mental health in the workplace which aligns well with the broader goals of fostering a positive and supportive environment within organizations. Faith’s background as a Registered Social Service Worker reflects her commitment to social service and community well-being.

Faith lives in Barrie with her partner Paul and their two cats, Misty, and Governor.

Rebecca is the Program Coordinator for In the Know with Agriculture Wellness Ontario (AgWO) at the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) – Ontario Division. Rebecca is a University of Guelph grad having her B.A. Sc, Majoring in Child, Youth and Family Development. She also holds her Development Service Worker and Social Service Worker diplomas from Loyalist College. She grew up surrounded by agriculture, her family owns and operates JP Dairy Systems, which services, sells and installs dairy systems and other farm equipment. Rebecca grew up in the 4-H program and is currently a 4-H Volunteer in Hastings County. Rebecca has previously worked in front line human services. She is excited to be able to support the agricultural community utilizing her passion for mental health literacy.

Carolyn has worked with OMAFRA since 2009. Her current role is as a Business & Economic Advisor in the Community Economic Development unit. Carolyn has a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture degree from the University of Guelph and has been working in Economic Development since 2003. Carolyn is married, has 3 boys and is an active community volunteer in youth focused initiatives and her favourite fair is the Blackstock Fair held the last Saturday in August.

Nicole is the Programming Coordinator with 4-H Ontario. Nicole grew up a 4-H member with Peel 4-H association, spending 12 years as a member attending many provincial and national opportunities. After university, Nicole took a job with 4-H Ontario and has helped to bring back in-person provincial opportunities over the last three years. Nicole’s favourite part of her job is attending camps and conferences, helping youth to reach their full potential. In her spare time, she volunteers as a 4-H leader, a member of her local agricultural society and a volunteer firefighter.

Melinda Scott is the Volunteer Support Coordinator for Regions 5 and 6. Melinda grew up on a Beef farm just outside of Kincardine and was an avid program member for all 12 years. After graduating from Olds College in Agri-Business, Melinda gained a wide array of experience working with grain, livestock genetics and ag equipment before coming to 4-H Ontario 2 years ago. Her favourite part of her job is helping volunteers to inspire youth through the program that built her. In her spare time, Melinda volunteers with 4-H in Bruce County; she is the current President of her Agricultural society and enjoys attending cattle shows and sales.

Thank You To Our Sponsors

Preliminary Agenda

Friday March 22, 2024

  • Check in
  • Sheraton facilities (pool, fitness centre, shopping etc.) open for delegate use
  • Pre-Conference workshop: In the Know – Mental Health (10a.m. – 2:00p.m.)
  • Afternoon Activities
    • 4-H Conference Registration Desk opens at 1pm
    • Early bird sessions at 2p.m. & 3p.m.
    • Conversation Café for Association Representative only (4pm)
    • Dinner
    • 4-H Ontario Council Annual General Meeting (7:00pm)
    • Conference Kick-Off and Delegate Mixer

Saturday, March 23, 2024

  • Breakfast
  • Keynote Speaker: Andrew Campbell
  • Workshops – 16 sessions spread over 4 timeslots
  • 4-H Ontario Ambassador Recognition Luncheon
  • 4-H Ontario Arbor Award Banquet
  • 4-H Auction
  • Live Entertainment
  • Social and Networking

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