Top 4-H Members of the Year 2017

Matthew Vermey, Top 4-H Male of the Year

As the 4-H Male Member of the Year, I would like start by thanking Chatham-Kent 4-H for this honour, particularly the Board Members, volunteers and leaders who work tirelessly to deliver such a positive youth development program. These dedicated individuals do an amazing job mentoring youth to further develop their knowledge in agriculture, life skills and community service.

There are so many opportunities through 4-H that I have been fortunate to participate in. Regionally, I have been involved in a variety of clubs ranging from tractor repair and financial fitness to dairy, poultry, veterinary and field crop. I have assumed executive positions, participated in Rally Night, Judging Day, the Round the County Tour, fundraisers, served as the Youth Leader for the Vet Club and had the opportunity to share my experiences about 4-H in an interview with the Ontario Farmer. At the provincial level, I have participated in two 4-H leadership camps and competed in the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. Not only have I made new friends along the way but I have also had the chance to network with a lot of wonderful people.

These experiences have enabled me to embrace the 4-H motto, “learn to do by doing”. I have developed greater self-confidence and gained valuable skills in running meetings, public speaking, leadership, team building, and time management, all which I use in my everyday life.

4-H has not only been instrumental in promoting my personal development but it has played an important part in supporting my future goals and aspirations. 4-H has been a formative part of my life and I hope to be able to give back to this important organization in the future. I would like to encourage all members to participate in as many opportunities as possible
through 4-H. There is definitely something of interest for every member.

Molly Sayers, Top 4-H Female of the Year

As the 4-H Female of the Year, a big thank you goes out to Chatham-Kent 4-H for selecting me, I am so honoured.  Also to the amazing people that work behind the scenes to ensure success within the program: it is because of you that all Chatham-Kent 4-H members have countless opportunities to develop their skills, gain new experience, grow as a leader, and “learn to do by doing”.  Thank you for providing us with numerous learning opportunities and pushing us to do our best.

Being part of this program has taught me many wonderful things; such as the value of friendship, how to have quality leadership skills, and when to step outside of my comfort zone and try something new.  I have been a member in over 32 different clubs, ranging from livestock to lifeskills to heritage.  Through 4-H I have participated in Youth Adventure Camp, and camp dedicated to teaching teamwork and cooperation skills, and Career Mania, a conference that provides tips for building excellent resumes and cover letters, and helpful hints when it comes to interviews.  This conference also allows members to stay at the University of Guelph campus and get a taste of campus lifestyle, which will really come in handy when it comes time to apply to secondary schools.  I have also had the opportunity to be involved in many other events through Chatham-Kent 4-H and have gained many great life skills; such as public speaking, team building, problem solving, critical thinking, and effective communication.  All of these skills have played an active role in my life and are positively contributing to my school and 4-H careers as they develop.

4-H has given me multiple chances to make new friends and develop long-lasting relationships with all of the people I meet.  From competing at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair to participating in Judging Night, I have been very fortunate to have made countless valuable connections with many different people.  Also, having such fantastic relations with my leaders and fellow members has ensured that I will always have someone to look up to if I need help or direction.

Being a member of this program has made me a stronger leader, capable of being understanding, enthusiastic, passionate, and hard working.  I can accredit many of my new experiences, gained skills, and valuable qualities to 4-H.   This program has been very helpful when it comes to making tough decisions and will support me as I finish high school and move on to bigger things.  I am happy to be helping teach and encourage the younger members as they grow in 4-H and definitely recommend this program to anyone who wants to become a skilled leader, try new things, make friends, and have fun!

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Meet Gregory, a C-K 4-H Member!

Meet Gregory!

Gregory Vermey is currently a member of the Chatham-Kent 4-H Association. Gregory is a grade 9 student at Ursuline College in Chatham where his favourite subject is gym. He comes from a family of three boys, all of which have been involved in the 4-H program.  His mother Marcia is a 4-H leader and father Marty is a 4-H Alumni. Gregory joined 4-H because it was around his age that his dad originally joined the 4-H program.

With the many clubs Chatham-Kent 4-H offers, Gregory has participated in the Blenheim Field Crop, Financial Fitness, Rabbit and Vet clubs. To date, Gregory has completed 6 4-H projects. Beyond the local level, he has participated in regional Discovery Days in Ridgetown where he enjoyed the food, playing games and meeting new people!

“4-H has changed my life by making me a better leader and teaching me how to judge different classes,” Gregory recalls, having placed 2nd in the junior class at our local Judging Competition.  4-H has also given him the opportunity to learn about a variety of topics such as soil quality, exotic animals, care of rabbits and how to save money, just to name a few.

With every 4-H experience, come some amazing memories. Gregory’s favourite memory is when he won 3rd place with his shelled corn sample at the local Field Crop Achievement Day, and then went on to place 1st with his sample at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto.

Outside of 4-H, Gregory stays busy playing hockey and soccer.  As well as on the farm, taking care of their 7 cows, 2 goats and 24 chickens alongside his 2 brothers.

Meet Mitchell, a C-K 4-H Member!

Meet Mitchell!

Mitchell Anderson is a current member of the Chatham-Kent 4-H Association. Mitchell is 13 years old and is a Grade 8 student at Ridgetown District High School. He comes from a 4-H family and joined 4-H for many reasons, including his love for showing cattle.  This passion developed at Paris Fair while showing cattle for his Uncle Terry when he was only 5 years old and decided to pursue the opportunity once he was of age to become a 4-H member. The friendships outside of school and hockey that you make through 4-H were another reasons for becoming involved. Mitchell has been involved in 4-H on many levels from the local up to the provincial level.

At our local level, he has been a member of the dairy, beef, poultry, rabbit and judging 4-H clubs. He has also volunteered in fitting and preparing 4-H calves for numerous shows, including Highgate, Ancaster, Rockton and Pairs Fairs as well as the Western Junior Show. At a regional level, Mitchell has attended Discovery Days a number of times and has most recently participated in Youth Adventure Camp (YAC), a provincial opportunity.  While attending YAC, he enjoyed meeting new friends from across the province.  “It was an awesome week of learning about team work, getting involved and competing in some fun activities,” recalls Mitchell. Looking forward, he looks to participate in more 4-H leadership opportunities as he progresses through this 4-H career.

“4-H is an awesome opportunity that I would encourage any of my peers to get involved in,” says Mitchell, a great testament to his personal 4-H journey. He goes on to say, “You don’t have to be from a farm to be apart of 4-H as there are lots of clubs for many different interests out there.” Mitchell has been provided through 4-H the opportunity, at the local, regional and provincial level, to compete in various dairy shows. Through these 4-H experiences, he has met many lifelong friends that you would not find anywhere else.

Even at his young age, 4-H has already provided Mitchell with many favourite memories. Some of his favourite 4-H memories this far into his 4-H career include showing Valmar Doorman Marilyn who was selected Reserve Champion at the Western Junior Show and Grand Champion at Highgate Fair; “A year of showing that I never expected.” Another favourite memory of Mitchell’s is his recent week spent at Youth Adventure Camp (YAC), meeting lots of new faces that he looks forward to seeing at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto this fall.

Outside of 4-H, Mitchell is involved in many school sports including soccer, basketball, volleyball, cross country and track and field. He also plays hockey for South Kent Lightening. When Mitchell has some free time, he enjoys riding his dirt bike!

Do you have questions for Mitchell? Leave a comment below.  Are you a current member, volunteer or alumni that would like to be featured on the blog? Let us know by commenting or e-mail us at chathamkent4h@gmail.com!

Meet the Sayers, a 4-H Family!

Let’s Meet the Sayers Family!

Joining 4-H wasn’t something they had to think twice about.  It “looked and sounded like an amazing opportunity” for them to become more involved and learn more about topics that interested them. The Sayers Family, Paul, Amber, Molly (15), Lauren (11) and Carson (9), are very involved with the Chatham-Kent 4-H Association in various aspects as well as within their community on a large scale.  They are truly a great example of what it means to be a 4-H Family.

Molly has participated in countless different clubs from livestock to Lego Engineering, and has been to Discovery Days, Youth Adventure Camp and Career Mania, all of which she really enjoyed and recommends! Molly recently achieved the Gay Lea Award of Achievement for completing 24 clubs.   Lauren has been a member for 2 years and has completed close to 15 clubs now. She attended Discovery Days this past year and said “it was a really fun day” and that she “made lots of new friends”.  Lauren’s favourite club to date was the Poultry Club, where she most enjoyed learning how to show poultry and showing her rooster, Chester.  Carson made his 4-H debut this past year and joined Cloverbuds.  Carson said his favourite meeting was “going to meet Rob Reid at the Dairy Barn on the Ridgetown Campus and learning how to milk a cow and being shown how everything in the barn worked.” Carson has joined the Toy club this year as his first club as a true 4-Her.

When not at 4-H, Molly pursues piano, drama, guitar and choir among other activities. She can frequently be found playing the piano in church, much to the organist’s delight! Lauren also plays piano, guitar, sings in the Ridgetown girls’ choir and acts with Ridge Players.  She is passionate about animals and aspires to one day become a veterinarian or biologist. Carson enjoys collecting toy tractors of all shapes and colours and can always be found at the Chatham-Kent Toy Show (January 15th, 2017 at the J.D. Bradley Centre) with his ever growing display.  This year he is adding a campground feature, as a tribute to the family’s hobby of camping every summer.

Amber and Paul are not only proud 4-H parents, they have also taken on leadership roles within the association.  Amber participated in 4-H when she was in Girl Guides, completing the Pets and Healthy Living clubs.  She only returned to 4-H once they moved to Ridgetown and Molly became involved in the Chatham-Kent 4-H Program.  She now helps lead the Dairy club, Community Heritage club, Rabbit Showmanship and Rabbit Agility Clubs.  Their calendar is usually full of 4-H meetings once April hits!  Amber really enjoys helping the kids learn new skills and probably the best part is seeing the kids develop friendships and confidence and “learn to do by doing”.  Aside from 4-H,  Amber can be found working in the Dairy Barn at Ridgetown Campus and is actively involved in Sunday School at Turin Church (don’t miss the 3rd Annual Comedy night coming up this spring!), and chairing the parent council at Naahii Ridge Public School. Her best 4-H memory to date is taking pictures of the 4-H dairy kids outside of the barns at the Royal Winter Fair, with the CN Tower in the background: Growing up as a kid who went to the Royal on field trips, she never dreamed of being on the “inside” and being part of the show.

For Paul, the 4-H dad and C-K 4-H Board of Director, his first 4-H experience wasn’t long ago.  It began when he accepted a nomination as a director on the Chatham-Kent board in January of 2016. Throughout the past year, he could be seen at many local 4-H events always there willing to help a hand to ensure events ran smoothly.  As a 4-H parent, Paul is enjoying the knowledge he gains every time he joins one of the kids at a 4-H meeting. The “Annual” Ski Trip to London with Chatham-Kent 4-H, which began as a 100th Year Celebration, has come to be a highlight of his 4-H experience.  A great opportunity for a 4-H family outing! Outside of 4-H, Paul works for South West Ag Partners as the Inputs Manager and the rest of his time is filled with raising three 4-H kids!

Being a family of 4-Her’s leaves little time for other activities but the Sayers Family really enjoys the program and, although they might be slightly biased, “believe that C-K has the absolute best 4-H program out there.” 4-H has made them all more confident, improved public speakers and has allowed them to participate in camps, trips and conferences that they never would have dreamed of. They have created connections that span the country thanks to 4-H!

The Chatham-Kent 4-H Association appreciates everything the Sayers Family does to keep the 4-H program running in our county.  Congratulations to Molly, Lauren and Carson on their 4-H achievements and we wish them continued success in their personal 4-H journeys.

My Experience as a 4-H Youth Leader

By Matthew Vermey (Vet Club)

Throughout my year as a Youth Leader for the Vet Club, I have gained confidence as a leader and assumed a variety of leadership roles. It has made a positive impact for me personally and in my 4-H clubs.

The Vet Club covers a lot of information and content. As the Youth Leader, I tried to live by the 4-H motto, “Learn To Do By Doing”, by incorporating many hands-on activities to support members’ learning and skill development. Examples of this were the hand washing and lung model demonstrations, and the judging activity that I organized.

Many of the younger members tend to look up to the senior members. By leading a number of activities, I made an effort to connect with each member and included all members in the activities.

I enjoyed my opportunity to attend the Future Leaders in Action (F.L.I.A.) Camp this spring. Not only did I have a lot of fun but I also grew as a leader. F.L.I.A. gave me ideas I can use in groups such as ice breakers and warm-ups. I learned how to work with others, and recognized that we all have different strengths and abilities. As a result of my training and leadership opportunities, I feel more comfortable speaking in front of people, and feel that I have developed good team building and time management skills.

As a Youth Leader I have learned that leaders provide opportunities for others to build their confidence and express themselves. To be a good leader you must also be a positive role model to others. In an effort to learn from my experiences, I reflected on the activities that I led in the club and identified things that I liked and things I would change.

Being a Youth Leader allowed me to help the leaders of the club and get to know the members better. It has challenged me to step out of my comfort zone but in doing so has taught me many things about myself. I have learned to work well with others and have made many new friends along the way. I would like to thank 4-H for this opportunity.

Meet Kelly, a C-K 4-H Member!

Let’s meet Kelly!

Kelly Verstraete is an active member of the Chatham-Kent 4-H Association. Kelly attends Ridgetown District High School and is currently in grade 12. When not at school, she works at Ryckman Farms. As a long time member of the Beef Club, Kelly was chosen to represent the club in the Kubota Cup Challenge this past year, showing her way to a Reserve Champion Showman title.

Joining Chatham-Kent 4-H at a young age, Kelly was excited about this new hobby, learning new life skills and meeting new people. Throughout her years in 4-H she has been involved in many county wide events and volunteered her time in various capacities.  She has served at the annual “Taste of Lambton Kent” Gala, attended regional Discovery Days and volunteered her time with the Highgate Fair. Kelly is an avid showman, participating in the Kubota Cup Challenge, showing on a Spring Expo 4-H Team at the Ridgetown College and has shown at many cattle shows including the Jr. Beef Expo (London), Western 4-H Beef Invitational (Listowel) and the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair (Toronto) among many more. To build on her existing showmanship skills, Kelly has also attended the Kirk Steriwalt fitting clinic in Paris, ON.

When she is not in the ring, Kelly enjoys participating in a variety of other local 4-H clubs.  She has been a member in the sewing, canning, cake decorating, baking, life skills, leadership, beef, horse and pony and scrap booking clubs, to name a few. These experiences have allowed Kelly to travel to many new places and small towns, as well as meet many new friends and people along the way.

4-H has changed so many lives in Chatham-Kent, and Kelly is no exception.  She has gained public speaking skills and been given the chance to practice those skills through her 4-H clubs. She has also gained leadership skills, which has led her to get involved with events and trips at school as well. She has participated in RYLA in Fenton Michigan and led a Niners Day team. She also uses the practical knowledge she has learned in the beef club to pick her show claves for the following year.

Outside of 4-H, Kelly enjoys hanging out with her friends and working on calves.  She is a true testament to both the showmanship and leadership skills 4-H teaches through a hands on “Learn to do by doing” approach to learning.  4-H has allowed Kelly to realize her passion for showing cattle and provided her many opportunities to do what she loves.

Do you have questions for Kelly? Leave a comment below.  Are you a current member, volunteer or alumni that would like to be featured on the blog? Let us know by commenting or e-mail us at chathamkent4h@gmail.com!

Meet Lauren, a C-K 4-H Member!

Let’s meet Lauren!

Lauren McKerrall is a current member of the Chatham-Kent 4-H Program.  Lauren is a fifth year student at Ursuline College in Chatham and will be headed off to King’s University College in September to pursue a Bachelor of Social Work. She is a busy student as she is involved in various student activities and also holds a position at Villa Angela. 4-H has allowed Lauren to meet many new people and form new friendships with members both at a local and provincial level. She has also learned and developed her public speaking skills. Lauren, alongside her brother Ryan, was awarded the prestigious Top 4-H Female of the Year this past year.

Similar to many 4-H members, Lauren comes from a family where 4-H is a way of life.  Her parents as well as both of her brothers are heavily involved in the 4-H program in Chatham-Kent.  She got involved in the program due to her parents involvement in 4-H when they were young as they inspired her to join and encouraged her to try something new. Following in her parent’s footsteps, she has been involved in the vet, sugarbeet, party planners, canning, field crop and sewing clubs.

As an active 4-H member, Lauren has been given the opportunity to participate in local, regional and provincial events. Locally, she has been on the Go for the Gold Team, presented at Rally Night, and judged at the Chatham-Kent Judging Night.  At a provincial level, she has participated in Career Mania and Provincial Leadership Camp (PLC).  She also enjoys volunteering her time at local events such as serving at the Taste of Lambton Kent Gala and the 4-H Plowing Match Food Booth.

The Go for the Gold team is one of Lauren’s favourite 4-H memories over the years.  She has enjoyed the study sessions the team holds before competing in the regional competition, as they were always a ton of fun.  This time not only allows the team to learn the materials and build as a team, but also allows them to interact with one another have a fun time while learning.

Outside of 4-H, Lauren is involved in her church choir and takes voice lessons.  She enjoys singing as it gives her the opportunity to be creative.  In her spare time, Lauren also helps out on her family’s farm just outside of Chatham.

Do you have questions for Lauren? Leave a comment below.  Are you a current member, volunteer or alumni that would like to be featured on the blog? Let us know by commenting or e-mail us at chathamkent4h@gmail.com!

Meet Ryan, a C-K 4-H Member!

Let’s meet Ryan!

Ryan McKerrall is a current member of the Chatham-Kent 4-H Association. Ryan is a grade 11 student at Chatham-Kent Secondary School. He is currently completing a co-op placement at McGrail’s Farm Equipment in Chatham. Ryan was awarded the prestigious Top 4-H Male of the Year last year as well as Top Agricultural Member.

Generations of McKerralls have been involved in 4-H and Ryan is a part of keeping that tradition alive. His parents Rob and Maureen are current 4-H leaders of the Sugarbeet Club and Vet Club and his brother William and sister Lauren are current members. Ryan joined 4-H because of his family’s involvement in the program.

As a heavily involved 4-H member, Ryan has been in many clubs, including: plowing, farm toy, cooking, sewing, sugarbeet, field crop, woodworking and more. He has also attended many regional and provincial events such as judging night, local food booths and Round the County tour; served at the Taste of Lambton Kent Gala, Go for the Gold team and Career Mania.

Through 4-H, Ryan has learned many skills that he would not have been taught anywhere else. It has also given him the opportunity to meet many friends, leaders and mentors within the community that have changed his life by how dedicated and caring they are to their 4-H members.

Ryan’s favourite 4-H memory is participating in the local Chatham-Kent Plowing Match. He really enjoys competing in the match because there are only three people that usually compete in his class. This group has competed together for the past 3-4 years together and it has turned into a learning experience for them all. It is a fun day at the match as they help each other out, share ideas and see who is the luckiest at the end of the day.

Outside of 4-H, Ryan enjoys playing hockey at Dresden Minor Hockey. Ryan also enjoys helping out on the family farm (cash crops, tomatoes and recently pumpkins and strawberries) with his dad and uncle.

Do you have questions for Ryan? Leave a comment below. Are you a current member, volunteer or alumni that would like to be featured on the blog? Let us know by commenting or e-mail us at chathamkent4h@gmail.com!