The Gleaner

Ormstown volunteer wins major 4-H award

4-H Canada has announced the winners of its 2021 National and Provincial Volunteer Leaders of the Year awards. A Valley native, Caitlin MacDougall, has been chosen to receive the award for Quebec.

4-H Canada defines The National Volunteer Leader of the Year as “one of four prestigious awards presented annually at the Leadership Awards, which showcase the achievements of leadership at every level of 4-H in Canada, while helping to raise important funds for the Canadian 4-H Foundation.” Each year, the national organization welcomes nominations to recognize an individual in each province as well as the national award winner.

MacDougall is no rookie in the world of 4-H. “I have been helping as a leader in the Ormstown 4-H Club since 2011, and the general club leader for about the last five years,” she explains. But her involvement in the Valley reaches even further, as she has been working with Ormstown Saracens Rugby, the Women’s Auxiliary of the Barrie Memorial Hospital, and the Valley Flower Show.

She says that the award “recognizes the contributions of adult volunteers to their provincial and local 4-H movements.” 

MacDougall was nominated for this award by Stephanie Maynard of Quinn Farm. Maynard calls MacDougall “an exceptional leader” and says she “continually encourages members to do community service activities, such as helping with fundraisers for good causes, weeding gardens at the seniors’ centre, or square dancing at the seniors’ home.”

Even when the pandemic hit and in-person gatherings were suspended, MacDougall kept organizing ways for 4-H to keep up its work online. Maynard emphasizes that one of the most impressive things about MacDougall is that she “has a great skill for involving members, encouraging them and coaching them from the sidelines, but allowing them to make decisions and plan activities so that they can learn to do by doing.”


Caitlin MacDougall, pictured here with Ormstown 4-H member Keith Quinn, was named Provincial Volunteer Leader of the Year for 2021 by 4-H Canada.  PHOTO provided


MacDougall was very gratified to find out about the award. “I was very thankful when I received the email from 4-H Canada to say I had been nominated for the award at the end of November… I really enjoy being a leader in Ormstown 4-H.”

Since last fall, MacDougall has been overseas in Nice, France. There, she has been doing a master’s degree at the EDHEC (École des Hautes Etudes Commerciales du Nord) Business School. She is enjoying the program, and says it’s been surprising how much it ties into her work with 4-H. “In a lot of my MBA courses we talk about management as learning by doing, which is almost exactly the 4-H motto, ‘learn to do by doing’.”

To her, this proves that “4-H really does build leadership skills that can be used later on in life.” When she returns to Canada, she is hoping to work with 4-H again.

MacDougall makes a point to thank Stephanie Maynard for the nomination, and “all the other leaders and parents and senior 4-H-ers that make the club so successful. Every volunteer deserves recognition for their contributions to 4-H, or to other community organizations.”

The award ceremony took place online on February 23.

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