3 minute read

Message from the Executive Director

It has been more than a year since COVID-19 became a defining feature of our lives. Little did any of us know that more than 16 months later, COVID-19 would still be a defining feature of our days. It has been a challenge, as a professional but also as a mother, wife, and neighbour. My life became very small: working, socializing, exercising, sleeping, and doing everything in the same space with three other people, one dog and one cat. It also required a lot of multi-tasking, at one moment on a Zoom call with staff from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, and in the next moment helping one daughter with a medieval history project and another to memorize the periodic table. While I’ve been alone (physically separated from extended family, friends and co-workers), I know I’m not alone. Many people can relate to this experience, whether they live in Ontario or BC, whether they live on a farm or in downtown Toronto. It’s a collective experience that unites us all by our common separation.

In this time I have done a lot of reflection on things that I’m grateful for, probably because I took for granted so many things that have been impossible in the last year. One of the things I’m most grateful for is my 4-H family. To the board who have put in countless hours making governance decisions to help us not just stay afloat, but build for the future. To the staff who have had to ‘pivot’ almost every task and activity because coming together in person was not possible. To our volunteers who took a chance exchanging ‘hands on learning’ for remote learning and digital connection. To our youth, who, at a most difficult time, threw themselves into what we were able to offer from virtual livestock clubs to cooking clubs.


I recall January being a particularly dark time, not just because there were few hours of daylight but because my kids were doing school online and all of our recreational activities stopped. Soon one day looked a whole lot like the rest. I can truly say the shining light at the end of this tunnel was the International Lunch Club run by the Waterloo-Wellington 4-H Association. Every Saturday from 10am until noon, my girls swung into action, learning about different countries and cultures through food. My girls learned to cook, and had the chance to see other young people doing the same thing at the same time though they lived hours away from us. My girls were ‘Learning To Do By Doing’ though they were doing it through a screen. And at the end of each meeting the whole family sat down to eat lunch together. There will be a lot from this past year that I’m confident will fade from my memory (in fact, I’m counting on it). I’m so grateful to have made this very unique memory for myself and my kids, to have provided an opportunity that they would not have had if it were not for COVID. This I will remember.

I hope you are all looking forward to the year ahead as I am. Let’s embrace the opportunity to meet in person, when it is safe to do so, and make up for lockdown time. Let’s take some of what we’ve learned about doing things differently and doing new things into the fall and beyond.

"One of the things I'm most grateful for is my 4-H family."

- Christine Oldfield, Executive Director

Christine Oldfield Executive Director, 4-H Ontario