Now in its 70th year, 4-H has been shaping the heads, hearts, hands, and health of its young members. This youth oriented agricultural club strives to provide young people with opportunities to become productive adults who can help better their communities. There are chapters all over Canada, including on the island. Meet the South Malahat 4-H district!
“Our 4-H district is very active in our community, though our most public event is probably the Saanich Fair,” says Auction Committee Chair for the South Malahat 4-H District, Mathew Smith. “Our district is part of the weekly Country Market that happens throughout the summer at the fairgrounds. We also participate in parades, animal displays, hospital visits, and youth and pet events across Victoria,” Smith adds. “Each club has their own activities along with those of the district, which keeps the members very active in the program and the community. Some clubs do sometimes hold workshops open to the public which are usually in conjunction with the ministry of agriculture.”
His districts biggest event is their Auction, which is held annually at the Saanich Fair. This year’s auction will be on the third of September at 2:30 pm in the beef show ring. This year boasts 5 steers, 11 lambs, and 7 hogs up for auction. The 4-H auction works the same as most other auctions. Animals are sold by the pound at live weight to the highest bidder, who can be a single person/company or multiple people coming together to purchase one item. Transportation for the animals is already arranged, but the buyer pays for the cutting and wrapping if they purchase a market animal. Smith says the district usually sees about 50 registered buyers, but the auctions always draw a crowd at the fair. “We do see the same companies and community supporters coming back year after year, and they have done so much for our district and the members that have gone through the auction that we can’t say thanks enough,” says Smith. “But along with that, the members are encouraged every year to bring in new buyers to bid on their project as well as other members, so we do see new faces every year on auction day which is always exciting to see new people or companies interested in supporting our local youth!
Various projects are run for different age groups, but members can range from 6-21 years old. “Many of the 4-H members do follow into agricultural related careers, but the program prepares members not just for the agriculture sector but rather to be successful in whatever career path they chose,” says Smith. “Though 4-H is known primarily for its agriculture routes, the program component of 4-H teaches members priceless leadership and communication skills that they can take on to all aspects of their life and career.”
“Our 4-H district, and specifically the auction, help create a community for these members to exist within where they have mentors, supporters, and friends,” says Smith. though he admits prices at the 4-H auction tend to be higher than market prices, he credits this to the generosity of buyers as supporters rather than just purchasing as consumers. “This display of community I think works in hand with sustainability. It helps members to successfully raise the next year’s project or begin their journey out of the program,” he says. “Though many people don’t see the production of livestock for consumption as sustainable, especially beef production, the 4-H program takes it beyond just the agriculture industry but rather uses it as a mode to develop and grow strong leaders and communicators who are invested in their communities.”
Learn more about the upcoming auction, or about how you can get involved at https://www.southmalahat4h.ca/