This year’s 4-H Canada’s Members Forum was held in Calgary, Alberta, November 26 to 30, and I was one of the four lucky members and a chaperone who got to represent Quebec 4-H.
Starting off early in the morning from Montreal, we had a connecting flight in Toronto and landed in Calgary that afternoon, with a majestic view of the Rockies to greet the plane as we landed.
After an evening of getting to know the other provinces and then a good night’s rest, we started the forum.
We visited three extraordinary places while we were there, the Calgary Stampede being our first out-of-the-hotel visit. After a morning presentation on stress, we hopped on two buses and headed to the site of the “Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.” We got to take a tour of the stampede grounds in a trolley and visit the arena where the chuckwagon races and other events take place, and did other small activities connected with the Stampede.
The next day we woke up early to visit Olds College, which is famous for being listed as one of Canada’s top 50 research colleges! We did a walking tour of the buildings, a workshop, and a tour of the many fields and the Smart Farm.
We attended the GrowCanada Conference the second-to-last day as well, which is a huge conference for the agricultural industries of Canada. We were able to sit through three presentations and then had lunch with two mentors of our choice. I got to meet Ian Affleck, the vice president of plant biotechnology for CropLife Canada, and Taryn Nixdorf, an account manager at CN Rail.
When we weren’t out and about, we were either presenting our Provincial Spotlight (a presentation about something endangered in our province), preparing our Members Perspective (a project where we were divided up into groups based on a topic we chose, and we had to make a presentation to show at the last-night banquet), or just sitting down, swapping pins and learning about other provinces and their clubs.
Finishing it all off, we had a banquet where we showcased our Members Perspectives and danced the night away with our new friends.
Returning after this trip made me realize that 4-H in the Valley is very limited compared to the other provinces. Here, it is usually associated with young children showing a cow at local fairs.
If we only dig a little deeper, out of the Chateauguay Valley, and even out of Quebec, we can find so much more than what we thought there was – and realize that 4-H isn’t just about cows, competitions, trophies, and ribbons; it’s more than that.
4-H is about making memories, about friendship, connecting with people all around the globe. It’s about learning to do by doing, about self-growth, and just being part of something bigger than our Valley. The Members Forum in Calgary taught me that 4-H is so much more than what we offer here, and with the help of our newfound friends across our country, we can become the leaders of tomorrow for our club, our community, our country, and our world (and have fun while doing it!).