Karry Hyatt spent her Saturday morning like any typical 12-year-old girl would—digging in the riverbank looking for bugs.
Hyatt was one of the 12 youngsters who participated in the Rainy River District 4-H Association’s junior youth conference in Emo last Friday and Saturday.
Organized by Carol Angus, Kim Jo Calder, and Laura Zimmerman, the conference was comprised of several activities, such as bowling, trivia quizzes, and team competitions.
Oh, and bug hunting.
“We walked down to the river, and Craig [Jourdain], this guy who was our leader, stirred up the ground to see if we could get bugs into a screen so we could find what kind of bugs lived in the riverbank,” Hyatt said.
“If there’s lots of bugs, it means the water is healthy,” noted Angela Huntley, also 12, who went along with Hyatt on the bug expedition.
“If it’s just snails and worms, [the river] can’t support other life,” she added. “The river here is pretty healthy.”
Tiffany Whitefish and Jodie Hoskins, both 12, were a part of the group that looked at oxygen concentrations in the river, taking water samples from different parts.
Apparently it wasn’t as big of a hit as the bugs.
“It was kind of neat and kind of boring, too,” Hoskins said. “But I liked getting the water samples and measuring them.”
The junior conference also looked to breed more local interest in the “Go for the Gold” competition. The youths actually broke up into three teams to hold a mini trivia bowl early Saturday afternoon.
Zimmerman, the conference’s youth leader, organized several of the events, including an activity which forced the participants to work together as they transported each other from one gym mat to another without touching the floor.
She said she attended several 4-H conferences growing up in the district and believes this group of youngsters have much to benefit from taking part.
“Most of these kids are in grades seven and eight,” Zimmerman said, noting they go to different schools throughout the district. “Here, they get to know other kids in the district. When they come to high school, they’ll know somebody from outside their [present] school.
“When I came to these for the first time, I was the shyest kid around,” she added. “Now I can talk to anybody.”
For Whitefish, she was glad the local 4-H association put on the junior conference—and she can hardly wait to attend some of the provincial ones in southern Ontario.
“I find [the 4-H program] kind of interesting,” she said.
“I thought it would fun to meet new people,” remarked Huntley. “I’ve only been in one 4-H club so far so I thought I would give it a shot.”
Just less than half of the eligible 4-H youths (aged 10-12) attended the conference. But while Calder admitted she was a little disappointed more kids didn’t attend, she was quite pleased with those who did.
“We try to do this every two years,” she said. “The main reason is so they’re more eager to go to the next level [of conferences].”
And at least one person had her interest piqued.
“I have been in 4-H for three years so I thought I’d give a conference a try,” Hyatt said. “If I like it, I’ll give other conferences a shot in southern Ontario.”