She’s only 13, but Alyvia Fair already has more responsibilities than many people twice her age.
A member of the Vernon Young Riders 4-H Club, she joined two years ago as a way of getting more involved in the community.
“I have a horse of my own but I wanted to do more shows” said Alyvia, who rides Eclipse, her Palomino Quarter Horse and is a Grade 8 student at Seaton. “Everything I do is with the club and I have met so many different people through 4-H. You learn a lot.”
Living in Lavington, Alyvia has discovered that 4-H offers so much more than just caring for her horse; she has had the opportunity to take part in demonstrations, do public speaking and volunteer at the IPE, where club members had a display set up for young children to learn all about farming.
Alyvia’s mom, Coco Fair, said while the parents are involved, it’s the kids who run the club.
“The biggest thing is she has become so responsible,” said Coco. “When they do things, they have to keep track of everything they buy, what they feed the horse.
“She gets up every morning at 6:30 a.m., rain or shine, pitches hay and feeds and waters her horse and she never complains.”
Brookelyn Koersen, 14, was just 10 when she joined the Armstrong 4-H Swine Club. Now a Grade 9 student at Pleasant Valley secondary school, the teen enjoys working with her project and meeting others with the same interests.
“My dad used to raise pigs and it seemed like a really good program and my big sister was in it before,” said Brookelyn. “We do public speaking which has helped me with school and writing and I have a really great group of people. Money I make from selling my pigs goes into my college fund.”
Swine Club members get their pigs in May and have them until the end of the summer, when they show them at the IPE.
Brookelyn’s mom, Susan Koersen, said the club has been a huge boost to her daughter’s confidence.
“She has learned a lot and made lots of friends and is confident in public speaking and more aware of the community.
“And she went from loving bacon to not touching pork — they all have personalities and she falls in love with them, so I never cook ham at home.”
Swine Club leader Hannah Out (with Marika Reid) got involved with 4-H as a youngster and said membership gives kids a better understanding of where their food comes from.
“Because I grew up on a farm, this was an activity that I could do,” she said. “We had farm chores and I couldn’t do after-school sports, so I did 4-H.
“It’s hard to put into words to see the change in the kids, the development of their confidence, caring, compassion, it’s remarkable; they blossom. The best thing with 4-H is they learn to do by doing, which is the club’s motto.”
Dena Finlay is leader of the Okanagan Shuswap 4-H Lamb Club and has been involved with the Lamb and Goat Clubs since her childhood on Vancouver Island.
“It’s my addiction. Just about every kid on the Sannichton Peninsula was involved in 4-H. All four of my kids were in 4-H. It was one way they could go and leave the farm,” said Finlay. “Because we were a dairy farm, things were more automated and the club didn’t interfere with the work.”
Finlay said 4-H members get practical experience, learning how to keep records and to live by the 4-H creed of stock-keeping: to keep their animal free from disease, but also free from stress.
“I will go into a meeting of professional people and right away you can pick out people who have been in 4-H,” she said. “The more you put into it, the more you get out of it. There are so many opportunities.”
4-H: Head, Heart, Hands, Health
Members pledge their Head for clearer thinking; their Heart for greater loyalty; their Hands for larger service; and Health for better living, for their club, their community and their country.
Kids can join an existing club or start their own; members are between the ages of six and 21 and leaders are 22 years or older. Cloverbuds — kids six to eight — take part in fun-filled activities that explore future projects of 4-H.
Animal projects include: beef, swine, poultry, dog, dairy, horse, rabbit, cavy, sheep, goat, honeybee, llama. Other projects include plant and soil; creative arts; mechanical projects; small engines; personal development. To start a club, you need six members and an adult member plus a sponsor.
For more information, contact the B.C. 4-H Provincial office in Vernon at 250-545-0336 or toll-free to 1-866-776-0373, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or see www.bc4h.bc.ca