Kati Culbertson joined her 4-H club at a later age than most.
And now that she’s been part of the organization for five years, she wishes she had become a member much earlier.
Culbertson is studying animal science at the University of Saskatchewan, and is a member of the Alida and Area 4-H Beef Club. She didn’t join 4-H until she was 14 years old, which differs from many 4-H members who get involved with the organization when they are seven or eight years old through the cloverbud division.
“I basically jumped right into it right when I started,” said Culbertson, whose family has a livestock and grain operation in the Alida area. “If you talk to lots of members, they’ll say ‘Yeah, I’ve been in 4-H for 10, 12 or 15 years,’ and then there’s me.”
In her five years, she has been involved at the club, district and regional levels, and now she sits on the provincial board.
Culbertson joined in Grade 10 because she dropped a few extracurricular activities that were of fading interest. Her parents knew she was interested in cattle, so thought she would be a fit in the Alida club with its beef project.
“I actually knew nothing about 4-H when I started from the get-go, but I thought I would give it a whirl because I had a passion for cows and 4-H offers a program in cows,” said Culbertson.
Since joining, she has found there are a lot of reasons to be in 4-H. The leaders, the members and the employees are so welcoming. They all share a passion for the organization, and no matter who it is or what project they are doing, everyone in 4-H has that common bond.
“Everybody is so humble who is part of 4-H,” she said.
The organization has allowed her to learn so many important skills that she finds useful now as she is in post-secondary education, including public speaking, leadership, organizational, parliamentary procedure and more.
“I learned that you can gain so much from this program, and you can actually benefit from it,” said Culbertson.
She wishes she had joined 4-H earlier in her life. Culbertson has already told her brother to put his daughter in 4-H when the young girl is old enough.
“There’s no yes or no, she’s going in.”
Culbertson was at one time one of three member ambassadors in the southeast region. She has enjoyed judging and has competed at regional and provincial levels.
Earlier this year, Culbertson was elected to the provincial 4-H board as an 18-year-old member delegate. A two-year term, it means she gets to reach out to even more people about the benefits of 4-H.
“We basically promote 4-H. We’re like the cheerleaders of 4-H. We go to regional shows and Agribition and big events like that to promote 4-H.”
And she has remained involved with her club while attending school in Saskatoon, even though she is more than five hours from home. She can attend meetings via speakerphone, and if she misses a meeting, or the phone reception isn’t very good, she’ll get an update of important things that were discussed.
The club has also tries to have their field trips to Saskatoon or west or Redvers to accommodate her.
It hasn’t been tough trying to balance 4-H involvements with her school work.
“Everybody in the program is so flexible. Even with Agribition, for example, they may just ask me what day I would want to help out.”
Once she is finished her degree in animal science, Culbertson said she plans to enter a career in animal nutrition, which will enable her to apply what she has learned in 4-H to animal care.
And she will continue to be part of 4-H once she ages out of the program in a few years.
“I plan to be a leader, or train to be a leader,” she said.