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This article was published 24/1/2019 (366 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Boissevain farmer Elaine Froese has been selected as the inaugural 4-H Canada Distinguished Alumni Award recipient.
Designed to recognize the outstanding accomplishments and leadership of 4-H alumni from across the country, Froese was selected for accomplishments in community engagement and communications.
Recognizing 40 years of Froese’s dedication to working with farm families, hosting public speaking engagements and successfully running her own business, the Distinguished Alumni Award celebrates the impact she has had on her community.
Joining the Dugald Home Economic 4-H club when she was nine, the values instilled in her by the program have stayed with her to this day.
"4-H gave me a lot of really good useful practical skills for running my own business," Froese said.
Serving as a proud 4-H member for nine years, Froese had the opportunity to participate in a number of demonstrations and public-speaking events.
She credits her public-speaking skills, including confidence speaking in front of an audience and ability to think on her feet, to 4-H.
Serving as leader briefly in the 1990s when her daughter joined the club, Froese helped lead a babysitting project. She has also been involved with 4-H as a home economist, along with working with public speaking and achievement events. 4-H holds an public speaking events where members speak in front of an audience and celebrates the achievements of members showcasing their work in club projects, the community and in public speaking.
As a young 4-H member, she was surrounded my role models who helped inspired her to explore home economics, the study of the science behind home management that can include family relationships, household economics nutrition and other domestic areas.
"It had a huge impact on my career choice," Froese said.
Earning a degree in home economics in 1978, Froese began working with Manitoba Agriculture as the southwest region extension home economist in Boissevain.
She soon became known for her work as a farm business coach, as she has supported thousands of farm families through transition, along with being a certified professional speaker and authoring five books.
Not one to take it easy, Froese also runs a 5,000-acre certified seed farm in Boissevain.
"I look forward to continuing my work to empower families to help increase their profits and to help secure their legacies," Froese said.
Having lived the agriculture experience, she has keen insights regarding farming culture, which enables her to help in the areas of communication and conflict resolution as she coaches farm families.
"There’s definitely unwritten rules," Froese said. "The culture of agriculture is we grow food, we work hard and legacy is important."
That culture has become increasingly complicated and fractured over the years, with countless stresses stacking up on families.
"At the end of the day, I really don’t care about what your net worth is. What I care is if your relationships are healthy," Froese said. "Take care of what really matters."
Froese’s focus this year is celebrating the families she has worked with and her peers.
"I get excited when I see people grabbing hold of their dreams and taking very practical, concrete steps to make them come to fruition," Froese said.
The Distinguished Alumni Award comes to Froese after receiving the 2018 Wilson Loree Award for Development of Excellence in Farm Business Management.
"It’s very humbling and it’s a great honour," Froese said.
With an estimated 350,000 4-H alumni across Canada, 4-H director of business development Jennifer Christie said Froese is the perfect example of the impact former 4-Hers can have on their communities.
"We know that our alumni are doing great things in their communities and they are leaders in public and private sectors," Christie said. "We wanted to showcase those accomplishments."
The goal of the award is to recognize people who have made significant contributions to the four leadership pillars of 4-H: community engagement and communications; science and technology; the environment and healthy living; and sustainable agriculture and food security.
The nominations for the award come from the 4-H community at large.
Hoping 4-Hers today are able to see alumni’s ability to go on to pursue and accomplish their dreams, Christie said the award will serve as a beacon of inspiration.
"We believe no matter what your passionate about or interested in, the 4-H program gives you the skills to be able to accomplish those dreams," Christie said.
Froese will receive the award at the 2019 Leadership Awards in Saskatoon on Jan. 31.
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