At this time of year, Stampede Park is usually bustling with activity. If things were normal, Western Canada’s largest gathering of 4-H clubs, the Calgary Stampede’s 4-H on Parade, would have taken place at the beginning of June with hundreds of young 4-H members heading home full of pride after being recognized for their projects, skills and achievements. But things are not normal.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, 4-H on Parade was not able to be held this year. The global crisis is also affecting all other 4-H gatherings. But 4-H members are rising to the challenges presented by pandemic, not only in completing their projects but also helping charities in their local communities.

A young member of the Crestomere 4-H club shows off his market lamb

The cancellation of events, achievement days and sales across Canada has not slowed down young 4-H members in the slightest.  In fact, it has challenged them to show off their very creative skills in marketing their livestock projects and completing their yearly requirements.

In the absence of public gatherings, 4-Hers have been marketing their animals online, by private treaty, and in some cases selling in quarters to multiple consumers who are looking for beef, lamb, or pork straight from the farm.

Many members have been producing videos, taking pictures, writing descriptions, and even reaching out personally to prospective buyers to sell them on the benefits of their particular project. All of this has given them a hands-on learning experience about marketing.

Members of the Crestomere 4-H club show off their projects

The pandemic has also not stopped the youth from making sure they help out those in need. There are 24 charity projects in Alberta this year, which includes 22 steers and two lambs. Some clubs that do not have a charity animal are pledging to give a portion of their sales to non-profit organizations or groups.

Those charities have included organizations like Ronald McDonald House, local food banks, and soup kitchens, just to name a few. And the remarkable efforts of 4-H members to support their communities have not gone unnoticed.

“The great generosity we are seeing from the youth involved in 4-H this year is inspiring,” said Provincial Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, Devin Dreeshen in a release shared by 4-H Alberta. “These community leaders are setting an example for us all, and I look forward to participating in a charity auction this year.”

The sales have been underway for a month and go well into June, depending on the club. Demand has been high, so prospective buyers are encouraged to act quickly. A complete listing of upcoming 4-H beef, lamb and swine auctions can be found at www.4H.ab.ca.

4-H members in Alberta have definitely taken the motto Learn To Do By Doing to new levels in 2020, and risen to the challenge of helping their communities in challenging times.