Hillsburgh’s June Switzer wins national 4-H leadership award

A local 4-H leader was among those from across Canada who were honoured for their dedication to local youth recently.
The winners were officially announced Dec. 18 in the seventh annual The Co-op­era­tors and 4-H National Vol­unteer Leader of the Year award.
And June Switzer, of Hillsburgh, , was named the national 4-H Leader of the Year.
“I was really surprised,” Switzer said in an interview about the national honour.
She had known that she was nominated for a provincial award, so the national honour came as a shock from an acquaintance in the cattle industry – in Alberta.
“I just thought it was for Ontario,” she said. “Then, I got an email from Alberta – the cattleman’s association- and they said it was national.”
Switzer said winning the honour was a treat.
“This is very cool. My 4-H members nominated me.”
She said she saw some unusual activities at some meetings, but had not thought anything of the secret planning by 4-H club members.
More than 29,000 4-H members across the country depend on more than 8,500 volunteer Leaders to run clubs and oversee projects and fundraising efforts. The award was established through a partnership between The Co-operators and Canadian 4-H Council to celebrate the dedi­cation shown by 4-H volun­teers in helping youth achieve their goals.
“The lives of countless young people have been greatly enriched thanks to the vol­unteers who give so generously of their time,” said Bob McAuley, president of Cana­dian 4-H council. “At a time when we are looking to in­crease our volunteer numbers, we are reminded of the crucial role our volunteers play in ensuring the 4-H program is offered to new generations. The Co-operators and Canadian 4-H council are proud to ac­knowledge the selfless efforts of these volunteers through this annual award.”
Nine provincial winners were declared, and from those, the national winner was selected. Provincial winners were awarded a certificate, $100 cash prize, plus Co-operators and Canadian 4-H merchan­dise. The grand prize – a $1,100 cash award – goes to Switzer.
She has been a 4-H Leader for more than 13 years, and was nominated by more than 25 members of her various clubs, which include: square dancing, black light theatre, and life skills. Switzer was instru­mental in assisting the national 4-H organization in creating a public service announcement for television in 2001. The PSA, also sponsored by The Co-operators, earned an On­ta­rio advertising award.
In nominating her for the award, her club members wrote: “She gets involved in every aspect of the club, and then some.”
“She takes it upon herself to start new Clubs that no one has thought of before, and she keeps them going. June has taught us valuable life skills that will help us in our futures!”
“Leaders are the foundation of the 4-H program,” says Kathy Bardswick, President and CEO, The Co¬operators. “These unsung heroes who give one of the most precious resources – their time – in order to help develop our youth deserve to be recognized. The winners … epitomize what has made 4-H Canada’s longest-running rural-based youth development organization. I’d like to commend all the leaders for their commitment.”