Participants Shine At 4-H On Parade

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“It’s a bittersweet day. Selling an animal you’ve worked with for many months is hard on a lot of kids.”

GRANT BIRCHALL

JUMPING POUND 4-H

It might have been snowing and blowing outside for much of the May 29-31 weekend, but inside Calgary Stampede grounds, more than 500 kids enthusiastically learned, bonded, competed and sold at this year’s 4-H on Parade.

“We’ve had a fantastic time,” said Joelle McKnight of Calgary. “We came down just to see what was going on, and it’s been such a pleasure to meet so many unbelievably hard-working kids. It’s pretty clear these are future leaders for Alberta.”

4-H on Parade is a series of competitions and auctions designed to showcase the skills and hard work of the kids who participate in the many 4-H clubs surrounding Calgary. As Canada’s largest gathering of 4-H members, this event is impressive in its size and variety. From traditional events (steer, dairy cattle and equine) to those somewhat less traditional (cake decorating, dog obedience and photography), 4-H on Parade proves that today’s 4-H offers something for any rural kid.

For many competitors, this event is the culmination and highlight of a year of hard work. Competitors moved animals (including more than 100 horses, 20 dogs, 130 steers, almost 250 beef and dairy females, and 99 sheep) and projects onto the site before the weekend.

4-H on Parade doesn’t just highlight impressive 4-H projects; it also highlights the members themselves. You can’t help but notice the hundreds of kids milling about and prepping their animals are unusually polite, confident, and willing to engage in conversation with strangers.

“4-H teaches communication, leadership, teamwork and life skills,” says Grant Birchall, an assistant leader with the Jumping Pound 4-H club. “These kids come away from this program with a lot of really important skills,”

The event isn’t all ribbons and chatting, though. As Sunday progresses there’s a definite and increasing undercurrent of anxiety among some of the 4-H members, as their steers and sheep came to 4-H on Parade for more than just competition. “It’s a bittersweet day. Selling an animal you’ve worked with for many months is hard on a lot of kids,” says Birchall. “But, it’s part of the process.” Jenna, a Crossfield-Madden 4-H clubber who’s here with her steer, Happy, agrees. “It’ll be sad to sell him, for sure,” she says.

“Clubs rotate who is going to raise the charity steer. This year was our turn,” says Birchall. “100 per cent of the proceeds from the sale [of this steer] go to the Alberta Children’s Hospital. The kids chose the charity. It’s a nice fit: kids helping a kids’ cause.” Once again proving its commitment to 4-H, Encana purchased Jagger for an even $10/lb, which adds up to a whopping $12,510 cheque for Alberta Children’s Hospital.

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