June 20th, 2024

4-H sows the seeds for an agricultural career

By Dale Woodard on July 30, 2021.

Submitted photo Charles and Carmen White recently competed at the Summer Synergy and 4-H Provincial Show in Olds earlier this month along with their sibling, Lauren.

Some agricultural expertise as well as stellar people and marketing skills has planted the seed for Carmen White’s future.
The Claresholm resident who attended Catholic Central High School recently competed at her second Summer Synergy and 4H Provincial show in Olds earlier this month alongside siblings Charles and Lauren.
All three siblings came away with various honours, but for Carmen, her showing at the second annual event – which was first held in 2019, but cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic – will help her take the next step in her agricultural career as she placed first in live interviews and tied for second in senior marketing.
That also earned her a $2,500 scholarship sponsored by the Calgary Stampede which will help fund her education as Carmen heads to the University of Guelph in Ontario to study food and agriculture this fall.
“I’m pretty excited. It’ll be a fun experience,” she said. “I was out there a few years ago speaking at a fair in Toronto and people said I would fit right in.”
Her siblings didn’t come away empty-handed, either.
Charles was crowned champion Herdsman, winning a custom belt buckle. The award honours the youth that takes great care of their animals and stall while being friendly, helpful and sportsmanlike.  
Lauren placed first in Intermediate Marketing with a presentation about her duties on the family ranch. She also came in second in photography.
Summer Synergy is hosted by Olds Regional Exhibition, the Calgary Stampede, 4-H Alberta and Provincial Junior Beef Breed Associations. It provides a collaborative venue to showcase youth in agriculture by combining traditional elements with innovative approaches for personal achievement and development, increasing inter-breed interaction, avoiding duplication, improving financial sustainability, engaging the public and enhancing the profile of rural lifestyle and primary production. 
“It’s a six-day event to be the best person you can be in the agricultural industry,” said Carmen, a member of the Claresholm 4-H Beef Club along with Charles and Lauren.
New to Summer Synergy was the herdsmanship event.
“They set up 10 different stations with a bunch of different ranch and farm activities to see how well the kids can work together,” said Carmen, adding judges noted such skills as identifying different grasses or hooking up a trailer.
“It’s an all-consuming week. Most of us are up at 5 a.m. or 6 a.m. to bathe our animals and there are full events throughout the day starting on Monday and leading up to the big show Saturday.”
Carmen said this year’s Summer Synergy was not only a provincial show, with youth also attending from Saskatchewan.
“I think there were 238 participants this year.”
Carmen and Taiya Nickel, representing the Wild ‘N Wooly Club from Lethbridge County, went into the final interview round.
“We had to go in and two of the managers there, one from the Calgary Stampede International Agriculture Board, asked us how we would describe ourselves and how we could better improve the gaps between the rural and urban divide at the Calgary Stampede. I guess they liked my answer because they told me I had moved from 13th or 14th up to first.”
Nickel received a $2,000 scholarship from the live interview contest.
Carmen, who earned a belt buckle in addition to the scholarship, also tied for second in senior marketing.
“Before the event they test us and give us some guidelines so we can come prepared with some things to present,” she said. “The marketing topic this year was how to market yourself for the job of an agricultural consultant. I built a portfolio with a resume, a cover letter, brochure and business card and gave a five-minute presentation and examples of why I would be best for the job.”
After Summer Synergy was cancelled last year due to the pandemic, Carmen said it was good to be back with her friends and competitors.
“Everyone was friendly and wanted to hang out.”
However, due to the pandemic, the scholarship stakes were raised a bit from the first year.
“I was more stressed for this year, because in 2019 I scholarship-ped as well, but because of COVID the Calgary Stampede only threw $35,000 at us this year instead of $70,000,” said Carmen, who will leave for the University of Guelph in early September. “So there was more pressure. I thought it’s not about the scholarship, it’s about working hard and seeing my friends from all across Alberta from St. Paul to Milk River.”
After experiencing the 2019 Summer Synergy show, Charles, 16, said he and siblings looked forward to returning this year.
“It rewarded us well and we really enjoyed it.”
He didn’t come away empty-handed, taking home the Championship Herdsman title and belt buckle.
“It’s for taking care of your stalls, but also mentorship,” said Charles. “I felt really honoured because out of the 270 kids they picked me for mentorship and taking care of the stall.”
A group of anonymous judges oversaw the competition, said Charles. 
“So we didn’t know who the judges were. It made it fun because anyone could get that prize. They looked for the whole week and you never knew when a judge was walking by. I think the committee on Summer Synergy also looked for mentorship.”
For the herdsman competition, Charles brought a cow-calf pair. 
“That cow-calf pair is two years old, the mom is two years old. I took care of them in the stall as part of the herdsmen. I didn’t have an animal my first year and I regretted it. So that’s why I brought one this year.”
Charles has been a member of the Claresholm 4-H Club for roughly eight years.
“The club has been really helpful toward public speaking and life-long skills,” he said. “But it also helps that it’s a very friendly club. We all get along and have a fun time. It never feels like we’re pressured to learn something, but we just want to.”
Also representing the Wild ‘N Wooly Club was Claire Chapman and Boeden Nickel along with Taiya.
Boeden won a record-breaking Shepherd’s Flock class, placing first out of 17 flocks.
He also had the Champion Mature Ewe and placed first in Intermediate Trimming and second in Show Team Judging. 
Boeden also took third overall in his age group – including dozens of beef exhibitors – and received a $1,000 scholarship sponsored by the Calgary Stampede.
In addition to her $2,000 scholarship for her interview, Taiya had the Champion Ewe Lamb, placed first in Senior Trimming, Senior Showmanship and was named Champion Master Showman in her age group.  
She was also the only sheep exhibitor invited to sit with the Lieutenant Governor at the Evening of Excellence.
Chapman won both Intermediate Showmanship in the sheep show and Intermediate Master Showman, which involved showing her lamb but also a heifer and a horse, for her first time.
Penny Woolf of Magrath and the Nine Mile 4-H Club also competed in Synergy for her first time.
Woolf was one of two Juniors to win a $500 scholarship sponsored by Alberta Beef Producers and took top placings in Show Team Judging, Trimming and Yearling Ewe. 
A Woolf animal was also crowned the Supreme Champion Ewe, winning her another $500.
Her older sisters Ellie and Lucy helped by showing the ewe’s twin lambs.
Riley Leeson and Roan Bosch, cousins of the Taber area, were also at Summer Synergy.
Leeson won a $2,000 scholarship in the senior age division as well as a special $1,000 scholarship for her role as a leader amongst her peers.
Leeson had the Champion mature Black Angus Cow as well.
Bosch, competing at Summer Synergy for the first time, had the bull calf champion reserve in Jr. Team Grooming and was third in the junior aggregate.

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