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Local volunteer recognized by 4-H Canada

AMHERST – Leading her local 4-H club has been a rewarding experience for Sharlene Carter-Earle, and she recently learned that her efforts have not gone unnoticed by 4-H Canada.

Double “D” 4-H Club leader Sharlene Carter-Earle (left, with daughter Jessica) was honoured recently by 4-H Canada as the 2014 4-H Provincial Volunteer Leader of the Year for Nova Scotia.

The longtime leader of the Double “D” 4-H Club was one of 10 from across the country announced as provincial leaders of the year.

She said she was pretty surprised to hear of the honour, and that it means a lot to her.

“It was a wonderful thing because the members of the club had to send in the application,” said Carter-Earle. “This came from the 4-H members; it wasn’t picked by a bunch of adults, so it means everything. It’s the reason why I’m still there.”

After spending 8-10 years of her childhood as a member of the former Brookdale Homemaker Club, which was a precursor to the local 4-H club, Carter-Earle got involved again when her daughter Jessica joined Double “D” at the age of 11. Within a couple of years, she was the general leader of the club, and has remained so ever since.

While parent volunteers often move on after their children graduate from the program, Carter-Earle has stayed on, five years after Jessica left as a member.

I have kids there that call me Mom, and they made me promise that I’m going to stay on for a bit,” she said.

They did not have to do a lot of arm-twisting. Carter-Earle still gets a lot of enjoyment out of the program, watching the many young people grow and develop as they participate in the many activities and projects.

“There is nothing more rewarding than seeing a member who was really shy when they came and started, become within four or five years one of the most mature, talented, skilled members you’ve ever had, and I’ve had a couple of those,” she said. “They tell me it’s because I made them that way. I didn’t make them that way, I just tried to encourage them to be better.”

She said she has been fortunate to have so many amazing young people go through her club, and is particularly proud of their success in public speaking, with at least one Double “D” member making it to provincial finals in public speaking within the past 4-5 years.

She also remains “very strict” as a leader, allowing no cellphones at meetings, and no carrying on or interrupting while she is speaking. And not just at their meetings.

“When I see them anywhere, I expect them to behave like if they were at a 4-H meeting,” said Carter-Earle. “If they see me coming, they either run or stop what they’re doing.”

The 4-H Leader of the Year Award was created to recognize the significant and pivotal role volunteer leaders play in the 4-H program. A national winner is selected from the slate of provincial winners, with this year’s national winner being Jeanette Gallant of Prince Edward Island.

“The selection criteria for this award include club and community participation, length of involvement in 4-H, and impact on 4-G members,” said 4-H Canada CEO Shannon Benner. “Each and every one of this year’s winners has not only met the selection criteria, but they have also shown true passion and commitment for the 4-H movement, and we could not be more grateful for their contributions.”

Each provincial winner will receive $100, as well as a prize package.

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