Virtual award gala recognizes 4-H achievements

By Ken Kellar
Local Journalism Initiative reporter

In the year of COVID many local groups have had to adapt to keep life as close to normal as possible, and the Rainy River District 4-H Association has been no exception.

Coming into the end of March, when the agriculture group traditionally holds its annual awards banquet, the 4-H club is hosting a virtual ceremony, to recognize the hard work its members have done during a difficult year. 4-H volunteer Angela Haw said the club has put together the list of winners as it normally does, and even though they won’t be able to congregate and celebrate together in person, the awards are still making it into the hands of deserving winners.

“We’ve had to change the way we do the banquet because of COVID, of course,” Haw explained.

“With the crowd size limits, there’s no way we could have done it. We usually have between 100 and 130 people at our banquets, so that wasn’t possible this year. I am doing a slideshow that I will be putting on Facebook. We hope for next year and that this summer will be better for us.”

Not content to roll over in the face of COVID in order to ensure 4-H members were still able to have the complete experience, Haw said that organizers very quickly came to the conclusion they would do whatever it took to keep the summer of 2020 on track.

“We had to do Zoom meetings, which was totally different for us,” Haw recalled. “By the time we started our clubs in May, the kids had already done a lot of Zoom with their school work and were quite familiar so it worked quite well. We held our meetings that way, and the kids worked on marketing their own animals. There wasn’t going to be an auction so they had to go out, find buyers, create flyers on their own. They approach buyers every year, but they had to approach more and try to sell their steers on their own rather than when they go to an auction.

Kiwanis Club of Fort Frances’ Robin Wright presents Rainy River District 4-H Association member Angela Haw with a $500 donation for the agriculture club. According to Haw, the Kiwanis club has supported the local 4-H association for almost 100 years.

Haw explained that each of the 4-H clubs held their own cattle show and this, along with the legwork club members did and a partnership with the Fort Frances Times, led to each of the steers being sold. Even while it seems like the 4-H club members had a year that, while mostly online, was still close to business as usual, Haw noted there were still things they missed out on due to the ongoing pandemic.

“They missed out on the hands-on experience, doing things at a meeting,” she said.

“4-H is learned by doing. We missed out on that stuff. Of course, you can still do a little bit of it through Zoom, because we would give them activities to do, but not as a group at a meeting. It was sad that way because we weren’t able to get together.”

The cancellation of the Emo Fall Fair was also a blow to the 4-H members. Haw said it’s something participants look forward to each year as it is an opportunity for everyone to get together and visit, along with the other fair activities like the shows.

However, having an entire year of COVID modified activities under their belts, the 4-H association is in a stronger position moving through 2021 now that the online learning curve has flattened. The club leaders are also planning for a modified event to allow club members to have an experience with their animals that will be a little bit closer to “normal.”

“We had a leader’s meeting not too long ago and we’re really hoping we’ll be able to all get together for a show and sale without the crowd sizes,” Haw said.

“Once vaccinations get rolling more, maybe by August, and it would probably be on the usual fair weekend even though there probably isn’t going to be a fair. We don’t know yet but we’ll probably still try to have a show and sale if possible. If we’re allowed by that time to have maybe 100 people outside, we could do that and have it by invitation only. We have a good basis from last year. It’s not unknown this year. We know what we did last year and we can do it that way again if we have to.”

Even as the Rainy River District 4-H Association works to figure out a solid game plan for 2021, Haw stressed that it was important to make sure that the individuals who take part in the club, as well as those who volunteer their time to help it run, are still recognized and celebrated as a group, even if this year it has to be done virtually.

“We wanted to still recognize our winners because it is a big deal,” she said.

“It’s our big hurrah at the end to award and recognize all the leaders, members, volunteers, parents, supporters, everything. It’s a great thing so I still wanted to make sure that everybody was recognized.”

4-H Club Awards 2020

Leader Certificates

• 5 year – Melissa Teeple, Pamela Wilson

• 10 year – Louis Bujold, Chantelle Teeple

First Year members (plaque, certificate & t-shirt)

Addison Brown, Talon Jenson

· 6 projects (pin & 6 project seal)

Brandon Croswell, Joshua Peters, Georgia Romyn, Daelyn Teeple

· 12 projects (Pen desk set)

Hayden Haw, Bradley Teeple

· 24 projects – This award recognizes the hard work and dedication that go into 4-H Club Projects.

The 4-H Ontario Award of Achievement is awarded to Members who have completed 24 projects and have been part of 4-H for five years or more.

Recipients receive a framed, limited edition print.

Alanna Gerula, Aynsley Williams

· Graduating Member – Seal and congratulation letter from 4-H Ontario

Braydon Kreger

·Online Club Members (4-H Ontario had virtual clubs due to Covid-19)

Cloverbuds – Melina Olson, Emily Romyn, Olivia Seguin

Explore 4H – Madison Bliss, Marlee Bliss, Georgia Romyn, Sydney Romyn, Aynsley Williams

Breed Awards

Herford Association (Tayah Badiuk, Madison Bliss, Marlee Bliss, Brady Cates, Jared Flatt, Malena Flatt, Lauryn Marchant, Aynsley Williams)

Limo Association (Logan Teeple)

Angus Association (Addison Brown, Erika Gerula, Katilyn Hay, Talon Jenson, Braydon Kreger, Hanna LeDrew, Caleb Peters, Gregory Peters, Heaven States, Cale Wilson, Matt Wilson)

Rainy River Cattlemen’s Association – $50.00 gift certificates to first year beef members – Talon Jenson, Sydney Romyn, Addison Brown

Beef Book Awards – Sponsored by Walmart and Farm Credit Canada

Senior 1st place ($150.00) – Aynsley Williams

Senior 2nd Place (100.00) – Taylor Croswell

Junior 1st place ($150.00) – Madison Bliss

Junior 2nd place ($100.00) – Marlee Bliss

Thank you to Ted and Debbie Zimmerman for marking our beef books.

Rainy River Feeder Finance – $150.00 to the member with the highest grading Market Steer – Braydon Kreger

Hereford Carcass Award – $200.00 and a plaque to the member with the highest grading
Market steer with Hereford Influence. -Tayah Badiuk

DeGagne Equipment Award – $250.00 and Trophy to the beef club member who accumulates the greatest number of points in the past three years of beef club work – Kaitlyn Hay

Rainy River District 4-H Leader’s Association & TD Canada Trust Leadership Award – $200.00 and Trophy to a member nominated by a leader followed up with application form and essay by the member – Aynsley Williams