story by Stacie Gaetz | photography by Britton Ledingham
Crossfield/Madden 4-H Beef Club has been shaping leaders for three decades.
The organization currently has about 30 members, ages nine to 19, who take part in and plan an impressive number of annual events including weigh day, judging clinics, club fun days, community fundraisers and service events, communications day, 4-H on Parade, camps, achievement day and more.
“They learn communication skills such as public speaking, record keeping and how to give back to the community that supports them,” said Jacky Vang, a 4-H parent and organizer.
Camille Scott, whose two children Shelby and Bow are members of Crossfield/Madden 4-H, said the club teaches children leadership because the younger members are mentored by the older ones.
“They become ambassadors. As the gap between urban and rural gets wider and wider, it is important for kids to have the confidence to speak up for the rural way of life and be proud of their ability to work with animals and get their hands dirty,” she said.
Aidan Kiernan, 16, has been a member of the Crossfield Madden 4-H Club for eight years and is the current president.
“I have learned lots of leadership skills like how to run a meeting, how to send emails and how to talk with adults,” he said. “I have also learned the importance of responsibility.”
One of the 4-H events that prepares children for the real world is the public speaking portion of communication day. The speeches are on topics the members are passionate about.
“Being able to prepare and deliver a speech is a fundamental skill,” Vang said. “It’s a skill many adults lack, and 4-H gives members a safe environment to overcome fears and master this art.”
Shelby Scott, 12, said public speaking is her favourite event of the year because she gets the opportunity to learn about a topic that interests her.
“It has also taught me that you need to be OK with stuff that might go wrong,” said the fourth-year 4-H member.
“You just have to move on because not everything will work out every time.”
The children are also taught to give back to their community through a number of fundraising efforts. Each January, the members do a bottle drive. During the spring months, members will collect tires and do a tire recycling program. Last year, Crossfield/Madden 4-H also participated in the Alberta highway cleanup program at the beginning of May.
“Fundraising teaches the members it takes a lot of hard work and time to raise money to pay for events. It helps them to appreciate the value of money,” Vang said.
Bailee Habberfield, 13, said she loves 4-H because it provides her the chance to work with her own animals, make new friends and meet new people.
“I have learned responsibility, organization and time management,” she said. “There are so many opportunities in 4-H that are absolutely amazing.”