4-H is Back!

By Jennifer Van Den Heuvel and Regina Cozzi


My HEAD to clearer thinking,
My HEART to greater loyalty,
My HANDS to larger service,
My HEALTH to better living,
For my club, my community, and my country.


These are the core values of 4-H and what the four Hs represent.


What is 4-H?

4-H is a non-profit youth organization. It exists in over 80 countries, and has over 25,000 members Canada wide1.


How does it work?

Although 4-H is governed nationally by 4-H Canada, each province contains and supports multiple clubs. 4-H clubs are divided by region throughout the counties (e.g. West-River club, Heatherton club, St-Andrews club, Landing club, Goshen club, etc.). Each 4-H club organizes meetings and activities for their members, and has volunteer leaders for various projects.

The number of projects has flourished over the years. What originally started with agricultural competitions in the early 1900s1, has now evolved into an array of projects2. Here are a just a few:

projects-1If a club does not offer a project your child is interested in, then arrangements can be made to join the project meetings of another club that offers the project of interest.

Younger children (ages 7 & 8) known as Cloverbuds, can also become 4-H members. This non-competitive group can still take on a project, or simply join the Exploring 4-H program, which encourages them to explore more than one interest, yet allows them to complete 3-4 smaller projects within their capabilities (e.g. crafts, cake decorating, photography & woodworking)


Time commitment?

Usually, each club holds a General meeting once a month. Later in the season, each project leader holds sessions with the members to complete certain projects. For example, in Woodworking, members can meet once a week to work on their projects from December to April. In waterfowl, weekly meetings only start once the ducklings are hatched, and take place from May to August. In general, project work occurs over a six-month period.

In March, each club holds a Club Rally Day. Members, including Cloverbuds, can either give a short speech or do a demonstration on a topic of their choice (they can talk about their pet, an experience, demonstrate a recipe, DIY project, etc.). Selected club members move on to the Regional Rally (in April), and then to the Provincial 4-H weekend competitions a month later.

Judging Day takes place in May. During this event, members become judges! They compare and evaluate four items (or animals) within their project category and rate them. For example, ‘Foods’ members might have to compare four cakes, rank them based on their appearance (and taste!), and give reasons to support their decision.

This is a great opportunity for members to develop their reasoning skills and be able to effectively communicate their reasons for making a given choice. This exercise also gives them a perspective on the standards and quality expected for their own projects.

Achievement Day.  Once all projects are completed, they are evaluated, by the 4-H local staff members, based on their quality (this is also based by age and years of experience in the project). All members need to participate in this event in order take part in the local Exhibition or 4-H Day, at the end of summer.

Run-offs. This is a county level competition, where one junior and one senior member, for each project, is chosen by the project leader to represent their club. Subsequently, run-off winners can compete at the provincial show.

Exhibition Day! (also known as 4-H Day). At the end of August-early September, 4-H members can take part in the Eastern Nova Scotia Exhibition, ENSE. This is when members finally get to showcase their project work or show their animals (livestock showmanship), and get ranked against other members of their club and county.

4h-collageSome of the projects displayed in the ENSE.
The 2016 4-H theme was: “Let’s be Green in 2016!”


Winning members move on to the 4-H Provincial Show. Provincial competitions usually take place at the end of September. This is quite an event!


Antigonish County project display (NS Provincial Exhibition, Truro)


What are the benefits of 4-H?

The 4-H motto is:

Besides acquiring skills in a specific project, 4-H members develop numerous life skills, such as:

  • Public speaking skills
  • Judging skills
  • Communication skills
  • Entrepreneurial skills
  • Leadership skills (which could count towards High School Personal Development credits)

Last, but not least, 4-H offers many opportunities for scholarships, awards, mentorship from project leaders, leadership development conferences (e.g. StFX 4-H Society), national trips and exchange trips!

Group activities
4-H members take part in many fun group activities too. Each club organizes get-togethers like BBQs, entertainment, recreational activities (bowling, swimming, Christmas Bake-off, etc.), team competitions (4-H woodsmen, tug of war) and let’s not forget the famous Camp Rankin, a week-long summer camp based in Cape Breton. Loads of fun and a great way to develop lasting friendships.

Community service
4-H clubs actively contribute to their community. Whether it’s a community clean-up, ticket sales for charity, or caroling at Christmas time at the hospital, 4-H members learn at a young age the importance of helping others and how they can make a difference in their community.


How can my child join 4-H?

November is 4-H month! Registration is open. The deadline is Dec. 1st.
If you would like to register your child in 4-H, contact your regional Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture, NSDA office, to find your nearest club. If you reside in the Antigonish or Guysborough County, click on the 4-H promotional brochure and visit the Antigonish County 4-H Council Facebook page for updates. For additional information visit 4-H Nova Scotia.

Testimonials from 4-H members

We asked 4-H members to complete this sentence: “I love 4-H because…”

Here is what they had to say:

“I’m always learning new things and having fun!”-Olivia

“I get to try new things, meet new people and go to new places.”-Nora

“my brother was in it.”-Cameryn

“I can be with my friends and make things.”-Brennan

“they always welcome me and I get to try new things.”-Marley

you learn how to do all kinds of cool things.”-Percy

it is lots of fun and way to stay busy.”-David

I love animals and because it’s a really good program.”-Sydney

of the life-long friends I have made and skills I have learned.”-Danya (parent and previous 4-H member)

of all the different things I can do.”-Mallory

I get to meet new people and get to hang out around the farm and cows.“-Mark

there are so many opportunities to become an active member and get involved in your community. 4-H allows you and challenges you to be a critical thinker and always learn, develop and better yourself on so many platforms.”-Iain

“you get to learn new skills.”-Ava

“I get to do new things that I can’t do at other places.”-Tony

“it is fun.”-Jacob

“you get to go outside.”-Ben

“I get to do a lot of different things that I like.”-Gabriel

“you learn lots of new stuff throughout the year.”-Baileigh

“I like showing calves.”-Ryan

“it is a really nice program and I love animals.”-Cassidy

“I like the variety of projects 4-H has to offer.”-Leah

“it encourages me to try and do new things.”-Casey

“it’s a great way to make you feel a part of a community.”-Emily

“they accept me for who I am. They help me accomplish things faster and they are always kind and cheerful. They challenge me to do my best.”-Maddison

“I love going to camp Rankin.”-Jaelynn

“it broadens my job options for the future.”-Angus

“it encourages learning and self development.”-Elliot

“they have free food and it’s a great experience.”-Hayden

“I get to go to camp Rankin every year and it’s always the highlight of my summer.”-Shannyn

“The projects are a lot of fun and the trips are great.”-Alex


Exhibition Day projects 2017

4H West River4H St Joseph

4H St Andrews

4H Landing

4H Heatherton

4H Havre Boucher

Hope you join us!


Thank you to Sheri Lambourne and Dawn Barrington-Hodgson for helping with this post.

1 http://novascotia4h.ca/
2 http://www.novascotia.ca/agri/programs-and-services/educational-resources/4h/


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4H Day!

Annual 4-H Christmas Cookie Bake


Anxiety Is Not A Synonym For Stress


by Vanessa Bruce Little

Although Anxiety Disorders are the most common mental illnesses experienced by Canadians, they still only affect about 12% of the population over the course of a year. With the recent upsurge of anxiety talk in the media (see HERE or HERE), however, it’s no surprise that people think we’re facing an anxiety epidemic. Contributing to this proliferation is society’s recent tendency to pathologize anything negative, equating health with happiness instead of understanding that negative emotions are an essential and important part of the human experience.

We’ve gotten in the habit of using the word anxiety whenever we want to describe normal negative emotion. It’s a stand-in for stress, for worry, for nerves, for shyness, for any number of feelings that are completely and totally normal. And by using the word anxiety in their place, we not only make these emotions feel much scarier than they need to be, but also do a disservice to people who actually have an Anxiety Disorder by trivializing their experience.

Anxiety – real anxiety – is debilitating. It’s not just discomfort. It’s a sensation of fear that is excessive, overwhelming, can be all-consuming, often runs counter to rational thought, and pervades almost every aspect of someone’s life. So how can you tell when the fear your teen is experiencing is normal and when it might be something more? Here are a few guidelines:

  • Is the fear persistent over time (usually months)?
  • Is the fear always present in certain situations? (e.g., Every time they encounter a particular situation and not only occasionally)
  • Is the fear debilitating? Does it prevent them from functioning at school, at work, or in their relationships?
  • Is the fear out of proportion to the actual threat posed by the situation? (e.g., Looking out the window from the 10th floor of a building evokes the same fear as standing on the roof ledge of a 10-storey building)

There are several types of Anxiety Disorders that we tend to see in teenagers – Social Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

Separation Anxiety Disorder is more common in children. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder are no longer considered Anxiety Disorders. Keeping in mind the guidelines above, here’s what you should know:

Social Anxiety Disorder:
Intense fear or anxiety in social situations where the person could be evaluated negatively by other people (e.g., social interactions, performances, or being observed).

Panic Disorder:
Experiencing recurrent unexpected panic attacks with no obvious cause. (Note that having panic attacks does not mean you have a panic disorder). The person will fear having another panic attack and/or avoid situations from which it is hard to escape in case they have another attack. This avoidance is called Agoraphobia.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder:
Excessive fear or anxiety about a number of events or activities that is difficult to control and occurs more days than not.


Remember, just because something causes stress or fear does not mean it’s an Anxiety Disorder. Many fearful reactions are completely normal versions of the stress response. If your teenager exhibits fear that is persistent, consistent, debilitating, and out of proportion; however, talk to your family doctor about what might be going on.


Other helpful resources:


Vanessa Bruce Little

Vanessa Bruce Little

Vanessa Bruce Little is the Knowledge Translation Lead at TeenMentalHealth.org (IWK Health Centre/Dalhousie University), a role for which she relies heavily on her background in Clinical Psychology, clinical training, and experience working with youth and families with behavioural, emotional, and social issues. In addition to developing the content of many of Teen Mental Health’s resources, Vanessa also coordinates large-scale projects and supervises students from a variety of disciplines. She strongly believes that you have to communicate in a way people will “hear” and that the quality of the content is irrelevant if your audience can’t understand it.

Read the entire blog series:

Depression Is More Than Just Having A Bad Day

Not Everything Is a Mental Illness