By Justin Seward
The North 40-Mile 4-H Club has been able to adapt well to the provincial restrictions amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
With the 4-H club’s leaders making the tough decision to cancel its annual Achievement Day on June 20 before the provincial 4-H group cancelled all in-person activities in March, the leadership stepped up and came up with a plan for members to market their beef/lamb projects.
The members did their beef and lamb sale earlier this year and wrapped up a few weeks ago.
Group leader Penny Pahl says she wanted to do the sale earlier because the club didn’t know what the market price would be like in June.
“The kids contacted their previous buyer from 2019 or if they didn’t have one – leaders provided a list of past buyers. Kids got a taste of “cold calling” which is not easy – but we felt it was important and more effective if the kids themselves called,” said Pahl.
“We then researched past prices and did an average of the past five years and came up with a club price. All members will get the same price per pound for beef and same price per head for lamb. We didn’t want to set a price too high to take advantage of our buyers, but we didn’t want to set too low to discourage the members. It does cost a lot to purchase and feed a steer, but we didn’t just want the kids to break even. The support was great and all the market projects are sold already.”
The beef sold for $2.85 per pound and the lamb sold for $ 3.50 per pound a head.
The funds raised went back to the kids as each 4-H member had to buy the animal in the fall and take care of the costs to raise the steer all year until the sale.
The club planned this selling method because most of the club’s supporters have been buying for years and didn’t want to lose their support going forward.
“We want them back in 2021. Some buyers count on that meat to fill their freezers and maintaining a good relationship with our supporters is key,” she added.
Aside from the sale there was also a club project where two families raised a steer and the members decided a portion of the proceeds of that project went to HALO and the Bow Island Hospital.
“ We packaged the beef into 10 parcels and the lamb in to 4 parcels. Same plan as the kid’s projects to sell. We called previous buyers and gave them the first opportunity to buy a parcel,” said Pahl.
There are still parcels of lamb parcels up and donations will be accepted until June 20.
The club has raised over $50,000 in a seven-year period and has enjoyed supporting local non-profit groups.
With the world health crisis, its still has been tough for general leaders to not see the kids at meetings.
“It’s been hard not seeing the kids and the meetings are not the same,” she said.
“ With in- person meetings, it can be a bit challenging to control 31 kids between the ages of six and 20 , and getting them to sit during a meeting can be trying, but surprisingly – I really miss it. Now I can just mute them on Zoom.”
However, despite not having in-person meetings the club has been able to accomplish some activities virtually including showmanship and grooming workshops online.
After the meeting, Pahl has open the floor to members through Zoom to chat.
“The kids really miss ‘goofing around’ with other members as well. So much has been taken away from them this year, I really feel sorry for them,” she said.
If members are to a receive a credit for this year all members will need to complete a video with a certain criteria.
“For the livestock, that means leading the project and setting up and having a family member pretend to act a judge, she said.
The Turf Grass Motorsports-essentially lawn mower racing- with the restrictions in place, will now see members take videos of themselves racing their lawn more tractors.
“The kids supped up these lawn mowers and they were going to race against each other on this little track,” said Pahl.
“Some of the kids, they were still working on them in March. Some were still in pieces. Originally, they were going to race in June, around the same time as our sale.”
The kids were lucky to squeeze in earlier events this year such as a Calgary Flames game, an Elkwater ski day, Communications days and community projects.
Pahl said while she is looking forward to planning the next 4-H year beginning on Oct. 1, that she will be stepping down as a general leader, a position she has held since 2013.
4-H Alberta has some virtual summer camps planned as well as a female virtual show all in effort to keep the kids interested.