Life is all about community for Caroline Boddy.
Her contributions to her adopted community of Forestburg in east-central Alberta and 4-H earned her the 2016 national volunteer leader of the year by a panel of judges, who made their selection from a pool of provincial winners.
Boddy has been involved with 4-H since her childhood in New Brunswick. In 1995, she followed her mining engineer husband, Grant, to Forestburg and immediately starting looking for volunteer opportunities.
Her first choice was 4-H and she ended up as a leader at three different clubs in the area.
“This is my full-time work. I am an entrepreneur of fun. Anything that is fun I do it,” Boddy said. “4-H always trumps everything else.”
Her daughter, Maeven, 19, was a member and her son, Isaac, 16, is still involved.
“I really enjoy 4-H. It is not be-cause my kids are in it. I became a leader because I like the program. After my children are gone, I will continue to be a leader because I love cheering for the kids,” she said.
The Golden Prairie 4-H Club at Forestburg has 42 members and draws on youth from a wide radius. The community also supports rodeo and beef 4-H clubs.
Some clubs have closed in the region but others are going strong and people are travelling farther to join.
“The kids are still out there and they still want to do it,” she said.
Her club offers 10 projects, which includes everything from archery to busking.
“I think that is why our club keeps members longer because they can do things as the years go on.”
She offers encouragement and treats every child like her own.
“I never get tired of watching them grow in self-esteem and confidence. When they succeed with a trick they have been trying to get, it never grows old for me,” she said.
Boddy is travelling to Ottawa in July and is booked to speak at the Global 4-H Network Summit about how to be an amazing leader who is encouraging and builds confidence among young members.
“I didn’t know I was doing something different from other people and my secret is, I just say ‘yes’ to everything,” she said.
While some organizations try to sell potential volunteers on the idea of contributing an hour each week, she has made helping out a full-time job.
A master of time management, she is also a volunteer swimming, canoeing and archery instructor. She volunteers at a United Church camp and with the local ski patrol, library, Alberta donkey and mule club, Paddle Canada and Forestburg fitness centre.
She also teaches drowning prevention and boat safety, search and rescue services.