Countdown to IPM '17 - 4-H Club members plan for county tent
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
A dedicated group of some of Huron County’s youngest residents has some big plans for a tent at this year’s International Plowing Match (IPM), which they plan to fill with their even bigger aspirations.
Auburn’s Jolande Oudshoorn is leading the Huron County 4-H IPM Club, which has been meeting since April. The club is comprised of nearly 30 members and youth leaders who come from all corners of Huron County and represent all types of 4-H clubs in Huron County.
Following the rules of 4-H clubs across the province, members of the club must be under the age of 15 to take part. If they are between 15 and 21, they can serve the club as a youth leader.
Oudshoorn, 23, is not far removed herself from being a youth leader. In fact, she was the most decorated Huron County 4-H member at the organization’s 2016 year-end awards banquet that was held Nov. 20 in Seaforth.
Oudshoorn won multiple awards that night, including the Murray Cardiff Award for top all-round member and the Ontario Plowmen’s Association Award for outstanding agricultural member. She also placed first in the Huron County 4-H Leaders’ Association’s secretary book competition and third place in running for the The Citizen Award for the press reporter book competition.
Assisting Oudshoorn in leading the group are long-time 4-H leaders Monique Baan, Reg Vinnicombe, Don Dodds, Ursina Studhalter and Jolande’s mother Marita.
The group’s work over the next few months will be to craft what the Huron County 4-H tent at the IPM will look like. Members and leaders will be designing it from the ground up, deciding what will be featured and organizing those elements themselves.
“You, as a member of the 4-H Match Making Club, will have a role in deciding on the Huron County 4-H program’s involvement in the 2017 International Plowing Match to be held near Walton, Sept. 19-23,” reads the club’s introduction. “The IPM is an excellent opportunity for 4-H members to be involved in a major event and influence the success of the event. The 4-H Match Making Club is a chance for rural youth to plan an interactive display highlighting 4-H, meet 4-H members from other parts of the county, encourage community support of 4-H and having fun at the same time. This is a ‘pilot project’ only available in Huron County. It was initiated as a result of the Huron County 4-H Leaders’ Association deciding to have an exhibit in the county tent at the IPM.”
There will be a total of six meetings of the club and the club’s achievement program will be participating in the club’s activities in the IPM tent, either as part of the Auctioneer’s Challenge, the 4-H Beautification project or the Brussels Fall Fair.
The club’s objectives are: to understand and practise the skills required to plan a major event; to plan a high-profile, active participation in the 2017 IPM for the Huron County 4-H program; to meet 4-H members and leaders from other parts of Huron County; to participate in the 2017 IPM and to have fun participating in a unique 4-H project.
IPM Chair Jacquie Bishop has been involved with Huron County 4-H since she was a member in her youth. She was involved with homemaking clubs (which are now called life skills clubs) and livestock as a member of the Brussels 4-H Beef Club.
Bishop remained involved as a member and then a leader for decades, only just recently stepping back in order to focus all of her attention on heading up the IPM.
As for the IPM 4-H project, Bishop says she couldn’t be happier that it’s been brought together and what it will mean for the young members of the club.
“The IPM 4-H Club is a terrific opportunity for members to learn and partake in the preparations for this event,” Bishop said in an e-mail to The Citizen. “The 4-H members are the future of the IPM, as we need to develop the leaders of tomorrow to take this event into the next 100 years.”
She says that by getting involved with the IPM, the members of the club will have a deeper, richer understanding of what the event means to rural communities like Huron County and throughout all of Ontario.
“By participating in this club, these members should develop memories for them to take forward. When you get involved, the experiences that you have are far more vivid for years to come versus being a passive attendee,” Bishop said. “The intent of [the IPM 4-H Club] is to create the opportunity for 4-H members and young people to become engaged in this epic event. The enthusiasm of these young people is contagious and needs to be fostered to provide them with a great experience.”
While the first meeting of the club, which was held in April, focused largely on electing an executive, learning some Huron County IPM history and members getting to know one another, the second meeting brought about learning more about the task at hand.
Members of the club split into groups and tested themselves on best practices regarding planning an event – specifically a tent the size of the one with which they’re charged for the IPM. They also brainstormed a number of things they’d like to see in their tent come September. There were a number of suggestions that may or may not make appearances in September – everything from free popcorn to a trivia game to the showing of 4-H livestock. Walton-area member Johnny Ryan suggested deconstructing a plow as a display in order to further educate urbanites on what a plow is and exactly how it works.
Ben Speer, a member of the club from the Brussels area, says that he’s excited to be part of the project, but has his own project at the IPM. Speer will be plowing in the IPM this year for the first time. He says he can’t wait for the whole week, especially since the match is being held so close to his hometown.
Alycia Coultes is another member who will have her hands full that week. Not only does she plan to be part of the 4-H tent, but she will also be showing livestock at two different 4-H shows at the IPM, one of which is tied to the annual Brussels Fall Fair, which will be held at the Walton IPM this year.
President Brooklyn Hendriks said that she has learned a lot from the club, even in just the first two meetings.
Hendriks said that with members from all over the county, she’s learned a lot about the different clubs throughout the county and met many new people through the club. Hendriks, who’s 15 year old, is one of the club’s youth leaders.
Most of the club’s members are not newcomers and have been involved in Huron County 4-H for a number of years, completing several projects along the way.
Hendriks, for example, has participated in over 30 projects.
In order to help the club reach its goal, it has been the recipient of a number of grants which will help the club reach its full potential. Those grants include the 4-H Connecting Canadians Fund sponsored by Canada 150, the Government of Canada, TransCanada and McDonald’s Canada, as well as the Journey 2050 grant sponsored by Agrium.
This has also been part of the project, as it aims to teach the agricultural professionals, farmers and business owners of tomorrow how to apply for grants, promote their club, fundraise and properly hold a meeting – all skills they’ll need down the road in some capacity or another.
As for the design of their tent exhibition, they will be learning the basics of design and how to best utilize the space they have.
Another of the projects is a Huron 4-H quilt that will be auctioned off at the IPM. Each individual club, including the special IPM club, will contribute a square to the quilt and hopefully the sale will make some money for the local organization.
While the specifics of the tent and the club’s exhibit at one of the most important events in Huron’s recent history will be the focus on a meeting-to-meeting basis, many members, as well as leaders, think the goal of the exhibit drives to the very heart of 4-H and what it means to communities like Huron County.
Jolande says she has learned so much through 4-H and it provides an alternative social experience to things like music and sports. It is a place, she said, where she has truly been able to be herself.
Both Marita and Jolande were born in Holland and Marita says that 4-H very quickly became a way for a new immigrant to Canada to meet people and learn about the community’s way of life.
The family now lives near Auburn and Jolande has recently graduated from the University of Guelph. She hopes to become a chartered accountant in the years to come. She is a veteran of well over 60 Huron County 4-H projects and has chosen to continue to work with the organization – not only as a leader, but also at the Huron County 4-H executive level.
Members of the club, young as they are, see themselves as advocates for the program and they make no bones about seeing the IPM as an opportunity to extol the virtues of 4-H in Huron County. They hope to use the tent to sell not only 4-H to people, but Huron County and its way of life as well.
For more information on the club or on Huron County 4-H as a whole, find the organization and its clubs on Facebook. To meet members of the special IPM 4-H project, find their tent at the IPM this September.