The Rainy River District 4-H Association held its annual Awards Night last Friday evening at the Stratton Millennium Hall. Dozens of 4-H members, their families and the volunteers who help make the programs run filed into the hall to socialize, enjoy dinner and applaud the hard work and dedication that was put into each of the projects undertaken over the past year.
Rainy River District 4-H volunteer Angela Haw said she felt like the night was a success.
“I think it went very well,” she said.
“It was a great turnout and lots of new members came out. I was very happy with it. The meal was great, it was a good evening.”
The annual dinner is held to recognize the achievements of the 4-H members in the projects they take on as part of the program. Far from just learning the ins and outs of raising cattle, the 4-H program offers many different courses from pizza preparation to learning digital photography techniques. However, considering the strong agriculture base here in the Rainy River District, the animal projects -beef in particular- tend to be the most popular.
“We try to do stuff for the clubs that's aren't beef related because we feel like these members come to these banquets and it's all 'beef, beef, beef,'” Haw said.
“It is a big part, but it would be nice to see more life skills clubs. Maybe in the future there will be, I don't know. It depends on what people have for time.”
As much as the night celebrates the 4-H members, it also acknowledges that without volunteers to help make each program run, the 4-H simply wouldn't exist. Haw noted that lately the volunteers have had a direct impact on the number of kids who are taking part in 4-H projects.
“I think it's because a lot of the leaders used to be members themselves,” she said
It goes up and down, sometimes there's a lot less people than there is tonight. Now there's a big group of people that used to be members and now their kids are involved. It makes a difference, it really helps to get the numbers up."
This year the association's Cloverbud program -think 4-H Junior- had a total of 16 participants recognized at the award night, showing that interest in the association and its programs is still going strong. Haw said she's hopeful that the increased interest will lead to more volunteers who will be able to diversify local 4-H offerings.
“We could use a few more different clubs, it's really nice to see other clubs than the beef club,” she said.
“There are other clubs, but with the beef club being so big and there's so many things to do that the leaders who do beef clubs don't really have the time to do other clubs. We are getting new volunteers, which makes a big difference in our numbers too, because you need the volunteers to lead the clubs.”
Following dinner and a quick introduction by 4-H Association president Tami LeBlanc, and a presentation of a $500 cheque from Fort Frances Kiwanians Robin Wright and June Caul, the night turned towards the awards.
Madison Bliss was the recipient of the DeGagne Award, which includes a $250 prize and trophy that goes to the beef club member who has accumulated the greatest number of points in the past three years of beef club work.
The Rainy River Hereford Association 4-H Carcass Award was presented to Malena Flatt as the member with the highest grading market steer with Hereford influence, while Cale Wilson was presented the Rainy River Feeder Finance Co-Op Carcass Award for the highest grading market steer.
Avery Cates took home the Ontario Plowmen's Association Award for deserving Agriculture Member.
Tayah Badiuk, Marlee Bliss, Brady Cates, Lauryn Marchant, Scarlett Morrison, Heaven States and Matthew Wilson were awarded the Rainy River Cattlemen's Association gift certificates for first year beef members.
The Beef Book awards were presented in a Junior and Senior class, with Madison Bliss taking first place and Marlee Bliss taking second place in the Junior class, while Aynsley Williams took first place and Kennah LeBlanc took second place in the Senior Class.
Breed Awards were also handed out during the award presentation.
Breed Awards from the Ontario Angus Association went to Madison Bliss, Kaitlyn Hay, Brayden Kreger, Kennah LeBlanc, Lauryn Marchant, Gregory Peters, Andrea Schram, Brett Schram and Danielle Schram.
Breed Awards from the Ontario Charolais Association were presented to Brandon Croswell, Taylor Croswell, Alanna Gerula, Erika Gerula, Carenna Haw, Hayden Haw, Hanna LeDrew, Caleb Peters, Joshua Peters, Georgia Romyn, Aynsley Teeple, Bradley Teeple and Danielle Schram.
Daelyn Teeple, Logan Teeple, Serena Teeple, Cale Wilson and Matthew Wilson were presented with the Ontario Beef Farmers of Ontario-Crossbred Animal awards.
Breed Awards for the Ontario Hereford Association went to Tayah Badiuk, Marlee Bliss, Aaron Bujold, Avery Cates, Brady Cates, Jared Flatt, Malena Flatt, Christina Gerula, Scarlett Morrison, Heaven States and Aynsley Williams.
Ayden Gushulak-Kelly was awarded the Breed Award from the Ontario Junior Limousin Association and Raelle Redford was presented the Ontario Simmental Association Breed Award.
In addition to these accomplishments, the awards dinner also recognized a few other awards.
Alanna Gerula and Aynsley Williams were recognized for being Youth Leaders within the Association, and Rebecca Beal, Tracey Haglin, Krista Olson and Melinda Romyn were recognized for being First Year Volunteers.
Plaques and t-shirts went to Tayah Badiuk, Marlee Bliss, Brady Cates, Lauryn Marchant, Scarlett Morrison, Sydney Romyn and Heaven States in recognition of their first year as 4-H members, while Cloverbuds Jax Barron, Clifton Beal, Addyson Buckingham, Mya Buckingham, Kaden Loughrey, Layne McCormick, Rihanna Morrison, Melaina Olson, Tompson Reynolds, Aubree Robinson, Emily Romyn, Teara Shoemaker, Olivia Seguin, Olivia Siemens, Eddy Westover and Hailey Wilson were also given a trophy and t-shirt for participating in the program.
Cale Wilson was presented with a pin for finishing 6 4-H Projects, and leader certificates went out to longtime 4-H leaders Neil Haw for five years of service, and both Susan Irvine and Kim Jo Bliss for 30 years of service each.
Even as all involved celebrated the accomplishments of 2019, Haw noted that eyes are already looking ahead to the 2020 season and the Emo fair.
“By the end of April, beginning of may, the beef clubs will start,” she said.
“Cloverbuds is starting again right away, right now they're talking about doing more meetings. There might be the odd other club, hopefully.”
Haw said she's hopeful that more volunteers will share their time with 4-H and lead to additional clubs being offered in the district, though she admitted she'll have to think about that later.
“I'd like to see the other clubs too,” she said.
“Maybe that's something I'll look into more after we're done with beef, because right now our kids are in the beef club,”