Leadership in Action–4-H Clubs Ontario

October 8, 2013 at 6:36 pm 1 comment


“Since 1915 the 4-H program in Ontario has made a big difference in the lives of hundreds of thousands of 4-H members, volunteers and club leaders like you.”

–from the Leadership in Action, volume 13, issue 01

The 4-H club projects have changed a great deal since I was in the organization, as shown by this display at the Tavistock Fall Fair in September.  If I had a photo of one of those displays that we made, I’d show it here, but we didn’t take a lot of photos in those days, or rather my parents did not, though I suppose there might have been a photo of me wearing something I made, and there are most definitely recipes in my collection that came from our 4-H manuals.

The projects for girls, at the time, were about gardening,  homemaking, sewing, stitchery and cooking, and at the time, the boys learned about farming, including the raising of animals such as cattle and pigs. As I wrote in Once Upon a Sandbox, I was grateful for the opportunity to learn from Women’s Institute members and other parents who led our small group sessions. We planted gardens and learned how to use the vegetables and fruit; we learned about first aid and entertaining. My sewing skills progressed much faster than they did even in the high school program (don’t tell my teachers). We learned as we worked on our projects and brought them to completion. And if we were not always happy with our final project, there was a lesson there too, of something different we could do the next time.

Change is inevitable and some changes lead to good things. I remember that my nieces showed their pigs at the fair, and so by the next generation, the clubs were more open to  having boys and girls in their groups.  However, I was not aware of boys taking the traditional girl’s club fare even though the home economics classes in high school were opening up to both girls and guys. My nephew was learning to sew ( a pillow or a bag) and liked it about as much as one of my daughters. Neither of them continued with the family studies class another term.

When the high schools closed up their home economics program— or whatever the name had changed to—the sewing machines sold off by school boards meant the young people had lost an opportunity to learn homemaking, cooking and sewing skills. It left a gap for students who would not otherwise have the opportunity, but the change offered  4-H Ontario an opening to broaden their scope of programs, not just in homemaking and learning about farming, but a whole range of other possibilities that would include both the guys and the girls.

When we attended the fair and were looking at the 4-H exhibits, I saw the Leadership in Action booklet and decided it would be a good topic to write about. And so I took a program guide to study it further.


Ah, yes, I remember those 4-H displays that we put together with pictures and special lettering with our club name and the Women’s Institute, Anna P. Lewis, that sponsored our club. Displays were meant to educate the public, but sometimes they could be entertaining as well.


And horticulture

DSCN0816 and baking


And here is the display where I picked up the Leadership in Action booklet—an opportunity waiting for a young person to join in 4-H activities, for only a membership and association with a group. There are opportunities to learn about agriculture, animals, arts and crafts, foods, machines. Also in marketing, outdoors and environment, personal development, plants, safety, and sports and drama, but there were a few more besides. Students living in the city may also join a 4-H association, with parental support to get there and to complete the projects.

My involvement with 4-H has been an invaluable experience, and while it did not lead to my future occupation, I learned so much that helped me to get where I wanted to go. It helped me with confidence, the value of doing a job well, and learning to judge  criteria in a category, and although I didn’t understand why at the time, it was an exercise in reasoning that helps me in my work today .

DSCN0803and the motto of this organization


Entry filed under: community, country living, culture, entertainment, environment, family, fine arts, leadership, lifestyle, photography, public speaking, relationships. Tags: , , , , , , .

Baptism is like anointing Learning to give thanks–Carolyn R. Wilker

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Caroline Sealey  |  October 9, 2013 at 3:01 am

    Great article on 4H. My son took a lot of 4H clubs. Everything from small engines to manners. One of his clubs involved reburbishing an old tractor. The club and its leaders did a road trip to the United States and sold it at an auction. He had a lot of great experiences.


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