There is more to 4-H than animals and fairs, with different kinds of clubs across the country and lots of opportunities for travel and learning.
Juanita Dieleman, 12-year member and president of the local 4-H club, has seized many of the opportunities given by the club, the most recent a Montreal trip learning about marketing.
Along with eight other B.C. 4-H members aged 16 to 21, Dieleman went Sept. 18 to 23 to the national 4-H conference, held every other year.
Touring the CBC radio station, a goat farm, a museum and Quinn Farms with fresh produce, Dieleman said she and the 100 other members from across the country learned how the companies market their products.
Most of them use twitter and facebook because you reach more people with less cost, and some use websites as well, said Dieleman.
The trip gave her marketing ideas to use for their farm, to let local people know of the quality beef for sale on her family’s farm, Dieleman said.
The Montreal trip is not her first 4-H trip, she has been on four others but only in B.C., she says.
Two were conference-type trips focused on learning to be leaders and role models, working with others, and knowing and being yourself, she said.
The other two trips were focused on food – the first learning about where it is produced and taking care to produce quality, and the second visiting Fraser Valley farms and seeing it all first hand.
The trips are a part of 4-H that Dieleman has always been interested in, and she enjoys meeting new people, she said.
“It’s all around fun, you get to meet people from the other side of the country,” Dieleman said, adding that she likes hearing about all the different kinds of clubs they have.
We have mostly market clubs in the Bulkley Valley, but in Quebec they have a folk dancing club, and in Newfoundland they have a five day 4-H fitness club, where they meet every day and do an hour or two of fitness, she said.
It is about learning to do by doing, said Dieleman, “so if you make a mistake you get up from it and do differently next time.”
And it is about raising up young people – the next generation, who will lead the country and communities – to know how to work hard, care for animals and enjoy what they are doing, Dieleman said.
Her whole family is a part of 4-H, she said, adding that their Dad got them into it because of his experience in the club as a boy.
But they are not involved just because of their family, said Dieleman.
“You go into it and if you love it, you love it because you love it. You don’t love it because your family loves it. We are in 4-H because we like 4-H and what it promotes in young people.”
Asked about her favourite part of the club, Dieleman said, “mostly I love just working with animals and knowing that I’m improving my skills that can take me to the next stage of life.”
Graduated from high school this year, Dieleman says she plans to work for a while on other farms outside of B.C., in the States or “across the water,” and learn more about how other people operate their farms.