by Abigail Koziel
In 2015, a core group of parents started a Facebook chat showing interest in starting up a 4-H club in Barrington, Shelburne County, N.S.
A fourth-generation 4-Her and a committed parent, Jennifer Spencer took charge. She knew how much the 4-H program had to offer and wanted to give our community youth a chance to experience it. As general leader, Jennifer, along with a handful of project leaders, got the club up and running.
Three years later, the Sou’West 4-H Club has grown to 50 members participating in several projects, including rabbit, light horse, horse basics, miniature horse, beef, sheep, dog, cake decorating, great outdoors, crafts, and clover buds.
In recent years, Barrington has strengthened its connection to agriculture via farming. There are hobby farms, farmers’ markets, and artists in our community, many with 4-H roots.
The 4-H program provides many learning opportunities for us. With activities such as public speaking, 4-H weekend, fluff ’n’ buff events (focusing on animal health, grooming, showing, and judging), judging day, and achievement day, participants develop skills via our projects and everyday experiences. We compete against ourselves and others, showcasing what we have learned throughout the 4-H year.
The 4-H Pro Show is the last event of the year in which 4-H members from across Nova Scotia gather together to compete. This weekend event is held at a different location each year. This year, it’s being held at the South Shore Exhibition grounds in Bridgewater, Sept. 28-30. Here you will meet new people, enjoy local foods, see a variety of different livestock, witness showmanship and conformation events, and enjoy Nova Scotia agriculture at its best.
The community also plays a huge role in 4-H life. With community service projects such as roadside cleanups, packing groceries, fundraisers, bottle drives, singing carols at the nursing home, and holiday parades, our youth stay connected to the community.
Most recently, we’ve been raising funds for a club-to-club exchange with a 4-H group from Manitoba. In July, 10 Sou’West 4-H members travelled to Manitoba for 10 days. Plans included learning about and experiencing the local culture, visiting a dairy farm and a hobby farm, participating in a community service project, visiting the Manitoba legislature and meeting the agriculture minister, taking in the Manitoba Stampede and Exhibition, and many more events.
This month, 12 Manitoba 4-H participants will fly here and experience our culture and community. They will get to explore our many beautiful beaches, visit our local museum, participate in a community service project at our local exhibition grounds, and experience the Cape Days festival, lobster boils, dory rowing, and much more!
This club-to-club exchange is an experience of a lifetime for us to grow and expand our love for 4-H. There’s also the option of an international exchange in the future.
We who participate in and complete the 4-H program move on to do great things. Learning to do by doing, public speaking, community service, and volunteering make us leaders in life.
I pledge my head to clearer thinking, my heart to greater loyalty, my hands to larger service, and my health for better living, for my club, my community, my country, and my world.
(Abigail Koziel of Barrington Passage, N.S., is in her second year as president of the Sou’West 4-H Club. She is 13 years old and starting Grade 8 in the fall. She’s also in rabbit project in 4-H.)