Pandemic changes Essex County youth organization 'for the better'

A member of the agricultural organization, 4-H, says going virtual offered new learning opportunities.

“Some of it has changed for the better,” says Scott Morrison, 17. “They have lots of different online clubs that you never would have got to experience if it hadn’t of been for the pandemic.”

Morrison has been a member of Essex County’s 4-H club since he was nine years old.

“I just like it because you get to work with cows and you get to meet new people and you get lots of different experiences,” says Morrison.

The leader of the Essex County Dairy Club is his mom, Vicky.

“Really, what we’re doing is bringing on the next generation of rural adults,” says Vicky Morrison.

She says before the pandemic, their meetings were mostly all in-person and almost always included a farm visit or a guest speaker like a veterinarian.

But the pandemic forced the club to go virtual, which Vicky says was actually a good thing.

“They have the opportunity to have speakers that normally wouldn’t come to Essex County to talk to the kids,” says Vicky.

“Now we’ve got good at Zoom and that has opened the door for these kids to hear about the different areas of the industry.”

4-H stands for head-heart-health and hands and Morrison says every meeting starts with the members reciting their motto.

“I pledge my head to clearer thinking, my heart to greater loyalty my hands to larger service and my health to better living. For my club, my community, my country and the world.”

Part of the club is “showing” calves at county fairs and competitions all over Ontario.

That, has been cancelled outright during the pandemic.

“It’s about meeting new people and having those experiences,” says Morrison. “Sure it’s nice to show cows, but it’s all about the experience really.”

Being a dairy farmer is in Morrison’s family for more than three generations.

Parents William and Vicky immigrated to Canada from Ireland in 2008 for the chance to own and operate their own dairy operation in Essex County.

Young Morrison says being a dairy farmer is his career path, and he plans to go to Ridgetown College in September to work towards that goal.

“I like it because there’s always something to do. I’m never bored. You get a lot of work ethic working on a dairy farm,” he says.

“I think that’s something that’s really important to build the qualities we want in the next generation,” says Vicky.