Gladstone 4-H leader is Manitoba’s recipient of award recognizing exceptional volunteer leaders

The awards recognize the pivotal role volunteer leaders play in the 4-H program

Laci Buydens (left) and Nikki Anderson (right) were two of the Gladstone Handi-Workers members who nominated Heather Lea for one of 4-H Canada’s leader of the year awards. Both have done Fibres and Fabrics projects with her and this year are vice-president and president of their 4-H Club. Keira Reimer, the third nominator and club secretary, was not available for the picture.

A Gladstone 4-H leader who’s led projects wherever she’s lived in rural Manitoba has been recognized by 4-H Canada for exceptional volunteer leadership.

Heather Lea has volunteered with the provincial 4-H program off and on since the mid-1970s when she first offered to lead a sewing project while living in Cartwright.

Her career as United Church clergy eventually took her to live in Rapid City and Stonewall where she’s also been a leader with local clubs.

“I was keen on 4-H and there was a need for a leader,” says Lea on what attracted her initially.

“I guess I am an educator at heart. I like to help people learn and 4-H is about learning.”

She moved to Gladstone in 2009 where she’s been a project leader with the 40-member Gladstone Handi-Workers 4-H Club. This year she has four youth enrolled in the “Exploring Fibres and Fabrics” project she’s leading. In past years and in other communities she’s also led photography and foods projects.

Lea recalls being a young 4-H’er herself back in the 1960s when she was eager to learn to sew and joined the Hugh-Ama 4-H Clothing Club in Hughenden, Alberta.

What’s been most gratifying as an adult 4-H leader is seeing young people steadily mastering skills they want to acquire, she said.

“They start out not knowing very much about how to do a given skill, and they work at it. They learn and they’re proud of what they do.”

Lea also coaches Handi-Workers’ club members with speech and presentation preparation and delivery, and how to properly conduct meetings and make motions. These skills are so important and 4-H offers a unique opportunity to acquire them, she said.

“I’ve been at a lot of meetings with a lot of adults. Some of them really don’t understand too much about parliamentary procedure and some have a very good understanding,” she said.

“4-H is a very good opportunity for young people to learn business meeting procedures.”

Lea is one of 10 exceptional 4-H leaders across the country being recognized this month by 4-H Canada.

She was nominated by members of her local club for the recognition. 4-H Canada receives nominations from 4-H members across the country who want to share the positive impact their provincial 4-H leaders have had on them and their communities.

The 2017 top honour goes to Alberta 4-H leader Norma Ansloos with the Springbank Rawhides 4-H Club. She has been named National Volunteer Leader of the Year award.

Outstanding volunteer leader awards are supported by The Co-operators insurance company, to recognize the role volunteer leaders play in delivery of the 4-H program.

“The 4-H program would not be what it is today without the work of our incredible volunteers,’ said Shannon Benner, CEO of 4-H Canada.

“The level of knowledge and development of skills that they are able to transfer to 4-H youth through hands-on experiences and to the values of community engagement make them invaluable to the 4-H program and all that it does across the country.

“Our 2017 4-H Canada Volunteer Leader of the Year Award recipients best exemplify the dedication and passion all our volunteers put into 4-H and I am more than thrilled to congratulate them all.”

Interested in putting a 4-H leader’s name forward for 2018’s awards? For information on how to nominate, go to the 4-H Canada website.

About the author


Lorraine Stevenson

Lorraine Stevenson is a reporter and photographer for the Manitoba Co-operator with 25 years experience writing news and features. She was previously a reporter with the Farmers Independent Weekly and has also written for community newspapers in Winnipeg and Manitoba's Interlake.



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