Passionate volunteers are the backbone of 4-H Ontario, says an organization representative
By Jackie Clark
Recently, 4-H Ontario awarded the organization’s most prestigious volunteer honour to three recipients from across the province. Carol Williams, from Peel, Joe Krol, of Stormont, and Jean Morris from Perth received the 2021 4-H Ontario Arbor Awards.
These recipients have been loyal supporters of the 4-H program for more than 10 years, Evelyn Chambers told Farms.com. She’s the senior manager of volunteer and community engagement for 4-H Ontario.
4-H Ontario has more than 1800 volunteers.
“They range in roles from working right at the club level, leading the 4-H club at the grassroots level to serving on local 4-H associations,” Chambers explained. “Some of them will be what we call volunteers-at-large, so they may not lead a specific club but they make themselves available to assist.”
Dedicated volunteers “are the reason we have a 4H program. They serve as mentors to the youth, they serve as teachers, tutors,” she said. “The sustainability of the 4H program as a provincial organization does rest with the volunteers who give of their time, talents and skills. They are the catalyst to the 4H program.”
Arbor Award recipients are nominated by their local organization, and a panel of previous Arbor Award recipients review the nominations.
Exceptional 4-H volunteers embody the organization’s mission and “ultimately leave a lasting impact on the 4-H youth and on the community by their actions,” Chambers explained. 4-H volunteers “commit our heads, our hearts, our hands and our health, not just to our club, but to our community, our country and our world.”
This year was the 20th anniversary of the first Arbor Awards.
“4-H Ontario initiated the arbor award back in the year 2001 which was the international year of the volunteer,” Chambers said. Each year “a tree is planted in the recipient’s home, and that tree representing the recipient and the roots of all that they have done to help to build their community, within the 4-H program or the community at large.”
The recipients received their awards at the 4-H Virtual Volunteer Gala on March 26, due to the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions.