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4H member earns grant to help rural children get involved

Showing of the $2,500 grant during the 4H open house and registration are Alissa Rabbie, Shannon Desjardins, Jane Thompson and John Garside.

Showing of the $2,500 grant during the 4H open house and registration are Alissa Rabbie, Shannon Desjardins, Jane Thompson and John Garside.

The County’s Shannon Desjardins is paying forward a chance for children and teens to get more involved in the rural community.

In her graduating year with the Prince Edward County 4H Association, Desjardins wrote an essay to the Canada’s Farmers Grow Communities program, seeking a $2,500 grant. The program, supported by the Monsanto Fund, provides 66 grants, each valued at $2,500, to charitable and not-for-profit groups that support agriculture and community.

“4H does both, but I was quite surprised and so excited to have been chosen as one of the winners out of hundreds of applications from across Canada,” said Desjardins.

She turned the cheque over to the local 4H during Saturday’s registration and open house to be used to reduce 2017 membership fees to $60, from $85 and hopes that will help encourage membership to grow.

“I wrote about what 4H has done for me over the last 12 years and what I wanted to see the money go toward.

She said that as a young girl she quickly became excited about 4H and its many clubs.

“4H has brought me from being a shy 11-year-old who hid behind my dad and brought my mom to every meeting, to someone who is a go-getter trying to get more members involved,” she said. “It also made me more social and brought me to be a public speaker throughout my community.”

Desjardins is now a trained and screened 4H leader and will be participating in the formation of new clubs as well as supporting existing clubs in the County.

She holds the record for most club projects completed – at 112 – and over the years has received many 4H awards and honours including most outstanding senior member. She has been praised for guiding youth into a lifetime of friendships and skills building, learning and leadership.

4H expanded her horizons as Desjardins now also sits on the OFA director board and with Junior Farmers outside of 4H.

4H also helped her with bursaries to complete an associate diploma in agriculture studies, with a focus on agronomy (plants and soil) at Kemptville College where she served as student president. She is working as an agronomist at County Farm Centre.

In her final year as a member with 4H she will be transitioning to be a full leader.

A new soils club for senior members tops her list. She is also assisting with a new Lego club, new cooking clubs and has an eye on helping to start an outdoors camping club for members to learn about wildlife, trees, plants and survival skills.

“I have lots of ideas.”

Registration with 4H includes an unlimited amount of participation and members can join throughout the year. To find out more about PEC 4H, http://www.4-hontario.ca/4h-in-my-area/prince-edward/clubs.aspx

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