Students in Cranbrook, as young as nine years old, will be showing and selling livestock, pigs, sheep and cows that they have raised themselves on June 2 in Wycliffe.
The 4H club is a group made up of students who run agricultural activities that include tending to livestock, swine, cows and sheep. The group holds selling markets where the community can bid on the animals.
Two members of the 4H club in Cranbrook are Taylor Holt, 14, and Hannah Boulton, 13, and they both attend Parkland Middle School. Each agrees that they are learning a lot about their chosen hobbies but that the challenge of taking care of animals has taught them more than just textbook information.
“I do horse projects but I don’t actually sell my horse. I do go through units with my horse. This year I am doing swine, so that will be at the show and sale. Last year I did goat and photography,” says Holt.
“I do beef and I do swine. I’m doing two swine projects; one is a gilt which I don’t sell but I do show her and then I’m also doing a market swine and I’m selling him,” says Boulton.
Local kids are heavily involved in the 4H program, learning not only agricultural skills, but also specialized hobbies because the club has well over 100 different kinds of activities to try – from jewellery making and metal work to photography and crafts.
Not only are they learning practical skills, the members also gain a sense of responsibility, diligence, perseverance and self-confidence.
“I find that 4H actually helps me quite a bit in school because we have to do speeches for 4H, so it helps me with my group presentations in school or whenever I have to talk in front of the class,” says Holt.
Dorothy Boulton, Hannah’s mother, says that her daughter is learning skills and mindsets that are hard to teach.
“As parents we see that it actually really establishes goal setting,” she says, “because sometimes even in the school system, especially if school comes relatively easy or it’s just not as challenging, with 4H they really see the goal setting and they have to see it to the end.”
Family support in the students’ endeavours is key, yet the projects are still all the responsibility of the club members. Not only that, but the kids also run the events, with a board made up of students as well.
“There is quite a lot of family help but it’s your project. You have to record everything you do and you have to train them and care for them,” says Holt.
But the club is not just a once a week meeting; it is practically a full time job where the club members have to wake up early and do chores and take care of their creatures.
Their responsibilities range from the bi-daily checks for food and water to precise pen maintenance. Along with the chores, there are also challenges in working with the animals to train them and get them in healthy condition.
“Something that I have learned and that I am still learning is that every year it’s different. The pigs get sunburnt one year, the pigs get sick the next year. I just find that every year I am learning something new,” says Boulton.
The 4H club is having its 100th anniversary for Canada this year, and British Columbia will celebrate its centennial next year. With regards to Cranbrook, the agriculture club has been going strong for a number of years, approximately starting in the 1940s as a potato farming club.
Their Show and Sale event is coming up on Sunday, June 2, where the kids will have their animals judged and where livestock will be available at auction.
This event will be at the Wycliffe Exhibition Grounds with the show running from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., when the auction starts, including 21 steers, six lambs and 20 swine.