MINITONAS, Man. — Introducing 4-Hers to northern Manitoba has long been a goal of incoming Manitoba 4-H Council president Brandy Dvorak.
She recalled her own experience as a child in 4-H travelling to Churchill by train to whale watch and see the nickel mine, Prince of Wales Fort and Pisew Falls.
“I’d like to expand our area and get kids going north. There’s so much to see,” she said.
Dvorak, who will become president at the council’s annual general meeting in November, hopes to bring a northern perspective to Manitoba 4-H and sees opportunities to work with friendship centres and involve more aboriginals in the program.
“I thought the North needed a voice,” she said, noting how such communities are challenged by distance.
“Being in a northern area, it’s sometimes hard to get south where a lot happens.”
Interviewed at a park in Minitonas that was part of a 4-H refurbishment project to turn a residential lot into a green space that will one day include swings, Dvorak said it’s an example of where the rural youth group can play a role.
4-H projects are wide ranging and include the outdoor living, crafts and babysitting programs in which she participated.
The 40-year-old saw the presidency as the next logical step for someone who “bleeds green,” joined 4-H at age nine and has led clubs for 18 years in Minitonas.
Dvorak said 4-H helped her adjust when she came here from Birtle, Man., in Grade 4.
“I moved to this small community and it wasn’t easy fitting into the school and community so joining 4-H gave me somewhere to go,” she said. “It brought me out and continues to do so.”
Lori Forbes has witnessed Dvorak’s development while working as the Manitoba Agriculture 4-H Liaison for the Valleys North Area Council and as a volunteer 4-H leader with an equine club in The Pas, Man.
“I’ve seen Brandy being able to communicate better with people, have more confidence in herself as she moves up in 4-H,” she said.
Forbes said Dvorak has provided traditional 4-H programming in basic life skills and public speaking but has also taken kids beyond their regions.
“We’ve done a lot lately for exposing the North, and Brandy has been a big part of that.”
Dvorak is passionate about 4-H, she said.
“She is very driven to organize events and make things all they can be for the kids,” said Forbes.
Dvorak has two school-aged sons in 4-H and operates a mixed organic farm near town with her husband, Rob Kublick.
Her off-farm work has been diverse, from working for the school division to Elections Canada, and has followed her motto of learning to do by doing.
“When you are doing something, you learn from that,” Dvorak said.
“I have taken the pledge and motto to heart and incorporated it into my life. When I go for a job interview, I say I learn to do by doing.”
Dvorak said 4-H has expanded her horizons and given her many opportunities, and she hopes to give that to others.
After having served six years on the board following her presidency, she plans to step aside to make room for someone else.
“I want to give someone else the opportunity,” Dvorak said.