In January of 2006, I joined the Chilliwack 4-H Dog Club, as what was then called a “pre-club” member, (now we call them Young Farmers). I never could have imagined what a journey it would be for me. The end of the 2017 4-H year, marked the end of my 4-H showing career. Since January of 2006, this program has been a central part of my life. I have grown in so many ways that I never would have without 4-H. I gained an incredible amount of confidence in myself, practicing speeches and demonstrations a countless amount of times. I truly “Learned To Do By Doing”, as I participated in communications, fundraisers, held each executive position, participated in the AgMent pilot project in the Fraser Valley. Not only did I learn from the leaders and seniors around me when I first joined, but I also learned valuable lessons from my projects. I’ve been lucky enough to have 3 dog projects throughout the course of my 4-H showing years, Bow, Sam and Rayne. The greatest lesson coming in 2010, where my first project, Bow, taught me that it’s okay to laugh at our mistakes, by doing absolutely everything wrong he possibly could in the obedience ring.
With 12 years of 4-H, I don’t think I have just one best 4-H memory, not even in just this one year of 4-H do I have one best memory.
Even in my final year as a competing member, it was a year of firsts for me. This year I held the executive position of Treasurer for the first time, I made it to District Speeches for the first time, I did my first Speak and Show. I had the privilege of helping our young farmer at her first fairs, which brought back so many memories to when I was the pre-club. The biggest moment for me this year though, was bringing my lab, Sam back to Achievement Day to Achieve with him after giving him most of the year off to start my new project, Rayne. He had started to lose his enthusiasm in years past. Nothing blew me away like seeing him in the obedience ring having fun!!! As I learned from my first project, not everything has to be perfect to be having fun, and while Sam was far from perfect, we had a blast in the ring together one last time. Seeing his spark come back was an indescribable feeling for me.
I never turn away an opportunity to talk about 4-H to anyone I know. I wear my ten year belt buckle proudly and often.
At the end of September 2017, I received a card in the mail from a new to 4-H member this year. She thanked me for showing her what 4-H really is, that it “is not about the dogs or other farm animals” and showing her what a “true role model is”. These are all things I learned from the senior members before me, and knowing I am able to pass it on makes my heart feel so full. I’m sad to see my showing years as a 4-H member come to an end, but I am also so excited to see what the future holds for me as a junior leader and, in a few years, a full leader for the Chilliwack 4-H Dog Club, my second family.