CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - Hudson Welsh was drawn to 4-H by an interest in woodworking.
“My dad is a carpenter, so he was a leader… that made me want to get into 4-H,” he said.
That was seven years ago and the now 15-year-old is still involved in the family-oriented, community-based, youth organization which provides opportunities for leadership and skill development and agriculture awareness.
Welsh was working in the 4-H Exploration Centre Wednesday during 4-H Day at Old Home Week as members participated in horse and pony, small animal classes, and beef and dairy shows.
Welsh was informing people inside the Eastlink Centre about some of the things 4-H does.
On top of livestock and other events the group showcases several talents at the exploration centre.
He was particularly impressed with the birdhouses made by children as young as five, as he remembered doing the same projects.
“I started doing that, then we ended up getting rabbits, me and my sister, so I showed rabbits for a few years.”
Animals are a major part of 4-H and though Welsh isn’t showing rabbits anymore many members were.
Fifteen-year-old Emma Willoughby got into the program doing photography, but now she shows rabbits as well.
“I’ve got six of them now. At the most, I think I had nine living with me.”
Willoughby has three breeds of rabbits: rex, mini-rex and Californian.
“She used to win a lot when she was younger,” Willoughby said pointing to a large velvety-smooth black rabbit caged in front of her.
Though there are a lot of categories and talents to showcase, the program is always willing to add more.
P.E.I.’s 4-H group just had its first show for cavies, a family of rodents which includes the domestic guinea pig.
William Muirhead is the member who began the initiative to include cavies. He said the cavy class is evaluated like every other animal class, on confirmation and showmanship.
“Confirmation is based on the animal, showmanship is based on me.”
Muirhead was showing rabbits for years and said he began to get bored.
“I went to Quebec for a show for rabbits and I found out there was cavies out there. I fell in love with my cavy at first site and it just took off from there.”
Murihead’s first cavy was a rescue from New York.
New additions to 4-H are welcome, but one of the most longstanding traditions is the beef and dairy show.
Hailey Quilty was getting ready for her third and final dairy showing of the day with her calf Redakitown Emma.
“I live on a farm and I wanted to do something with dairy cows,” she said. “I wanted to show so I got into it.”
Quilty’s family farm is in Cumberland and her favourite cow was named Melanie.
“I showed her two years ago. She got the grand champion in Dundas.”
Quilty thinks she will be part of 4-H for a long time and said it has taught her a lot of skills.
“It has helped a lot with public speaking. We have to do 4-H speeches throughout our club.”