What started off as a way to learn about caring for her guinea pig has taken Makenna Cyr to conferences all over B.C. and even in the United States.
Cyr, a 17-year-old ADSS graduate, joined 4-H seven years ago.
“I started out showing guinea pigs [but] since I joined my involvement has become more agriculturally based so now I primarily show beef cattle.”
There’s a lot involved before she can show the cattle.
“We raise the cattle from weanlings, so we buy them as weaned calves and we raise them for a year [which involves] feeding them, halter training them and getting them ready for show.”
But for Cyr, the skills she’s learned raising the cattle stretch to her life outside of the barn.
“It teaches a lot about money skills, record keeping, determination and hard work and responsibility. [You have] another living thing that you’re completely responsible for 24 hours a day, everyday. It’s really fun but it’s a lot of hard work.”
Most recently, she had a chance to show her cattle at the Vancouver Island Exhibiton Country Fair that took place in Nanaimo on Friday, Aug. 15. Cyr hadn’t been at the exhibition in several years but she made a triumphant return by taking home the top prize with Leroy, the 1,300 cow who she’s raised since he was a one month old.
But even more than showing cattle, Cyr has really enjoyed other aspects of the program.
“I’ve also really taken to the program aspect of 4-H which has a lot to do with public speaking and going to different conferences and team work and leadership skills.”
Those leadership skills will come in handy in the fall, when she leaves for North Island College with the help of a $1000 Chrysler Foundation Scholarship that celebrates 100 years of 4-H in Canada.
From there, she hopes to transfer to university and get her Bachelor of Education so that she can pass on her passion for agriculture to other students.
While ADSS had their first year of a sustainable resource management and agriculture class this past year, there is no national program that rivals the Future Farmers of America (FFA) down in the States.
Or at least, there isn’t one here yet.
“I’d like to bring an agricultural education program to Canada [because] I think it’s really important to know where your food comes from and how the animals are treated and making sure they have a good life.”