Dundas pride at Global 4-H
From left, Michelle Begg, Leah Barkley, Heather Mc Diarmid, Cassidy Porteous, Brooklyn Begg, Felicity Porteous, Paige Hannaford, Bruce Porteous and Tracy Porteous from the Dundas County 4-H club attended the Night at the Farm event for the Global 4-H Network Summit in Ottawa.        Courtesy photo

Kalynn Sawyer Helmer
Record Staff
OTTAWA – Having 35 countries represented in one room is a hefty feat, but the second-ever Global 4-H Network Summit experienced just that. Over 480 4-Hers worldwide gathered together at the Shaw Centre in Ottawa from July 11-14.

During the opening ceremonies, Bob Monet, Deputy Mayor of Ottawa and Ottawa City Councillor, remarked, “This is the first time I have ever seen such a large diversity and turnout at one conference.” He said Ottawa was proud to be the home of the 2nd summit as “4-H is investing in young people today to grow the future.”

The vast diversity of the event was not lost on the delegates. Dundas 4-H members from the woodworking and Ag Awareness clubs were invited to the Night at the Farm event held at Ottawa’s experimental farm. The Dundas 4-H leaders tagged along as chaperones and helped the 4-Hers prepare for the evening.

The two clubs prepared an exhibit and Leader Tracy Porteous explained, everyone contributed as members. The exhibit tent included a three-wing board entitled Saving Seeds, a palate turned mini garden to encourage sustainable gardening and gardening in small spaces, and a salsa in a pot, where all the ingredients needed to make salsa were grown in one communal pot.

In order to prepare, Porteous and the other leaders had the 4-Hers try out mock encounters and prepare platform speeches to encourage confidence in their social skills.

“As leaders we took a step back and let the kids do all of the networking and I have to say it was pretty awesome to see,” said Porteous. She continued that the Dundas 4-Hers showed surprise that 4-H reached so far around the world.

On the opening day, Tues., July 11, the theme was Community Engagement and Communications. As such, keynote speaker Krista Scaldwell took to the stage to dive into her career in communications and how 4-H helped her on her path to success. Scaldwell is the Vice-President of Communications at Great-West Life.

“My personal motto is ‘Life is the result of the decisions I make’,” said Scaldwell. She focused part of the beginning of her speech on the value of good leadership. Something her experience in 4-H helped her to develop. “We need great leaders who can make decisions, even the ones that are unpopular but are for the greater good, she insisted, and continued that “4-H was invaluable for my personal and professional life.”

Scaldwell said she hopes that if one piece of advice can be gained from her speech, it is the message “to work hard and always work hard. And to leverage the network that [the delegates] are getting out of [the summit]. This is the opportunity of a lifetime. I got so much out of 4-H I will forever be indebted.”

4-H in Canada CEO Shannon Benner explained that last year the national 4-H membership grew by 600 members. The first global summit in 2014 held in Seoul, Korea, had roughly half the 480 attendees which showed up to the 2017 summit in Ottawa.

“It took 100 years [for 4-H] to be a global movement,” said Benner. She continued that the program has spread community by community, a testament to the strong roots of the program.

At a summit with such a vast scale and a wide diversity of countries and members, there are huge questions that are being put to the delegates. Benner explained that it was important to try and keep the answers to those questions at a grassroots level. Her last piece of advice to the delegates was to “think big, but act locally.”