Having a household pet, like a dog or a cat is fairly common, but owning and raising seven goats, 30 chickens and five ducks is not something every youth has the chance to do.
President of the South Malahat 4-H Goat Club and Grade 11 student, Mira Finkelstein, has been with 4-H for seven years raising birds and now goats.
4-H is a national non-profit organization for youth ages six to 21, that provides an educational program to develop leadership and interpersonal skills through project work.
The program also teaches skills in public speaking, community involvement and general live stock knowledge. The four H’s stands for head, heart, hands and health.
Mira, a Central Saanich resident, was encouraged to start the program by her mother, Ingrid, who had grown up on a farm in Saskatchewan for nine years.
“I really like the philosophy of 4-H which is to learn by doing,” Ingrid said. “I have a farm spirit, so I was trying to impart that on my children.”
Mira started her first project in 4-H raising birds because she already had chickens and her friend was in the poultry division of the program. Mira was secretary of the poultry club and decided she wanted to contribute more, so she was voted in to become president of the poultry club, a post she held for two years.
Now as president of the goat club she makes agendas for meetings they hold once a month at the Saanich Fairgrounds, as well as running the meeting and helps to plan the education portion of it.
A very well-spoken and put together young lady, Mira feels she has gained a lot since joining the club seven years ago.
“It boosts your self confidence and public speaking ability, especially speaking to people you don’t know,” she said.
The highlight of her time in the club came in 2016 when the Royal Family visited Victoria on their Royal Tour of Canada. Mira was invited to bring her goat to the children’s party on the Government House grounds and meet them.
The interaction between children of different ages in the group is very montessori-like, Ingrid said. She feels the club has given Mira a high level of responsibility, getting the goats ready to show at fairs and mentoring younger members in the group.
The club also hosts clinics on how to get goats ready for a fair, nutrition, disease management and vaccinations.
There are opportunities for youth to do exchanges with other 4-H groups around the world to learn about different practices and collaborate. There is also the opportunity to earn scholarships for college through the club.
4-H provides a variety different programs such as gardening, bee club, photography and wool crafts and camps across Canada.
There is also a program for younger children called clover buds which exposes children to different types of animals and activities.
The South Malahat 4-H Goat Club is hosting a workshop on sheep and goat health at the Saanich Fairgrounds Saturday Feb. 17 from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The event is open to the public and the registration fee is $10 per person. People can register via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.