Ontario's Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell visited the 4-H Oxford showcase Friday

By Greg Colgan, Sentinel-Review


Ontario’s Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell visited Woodstock Friday evening.

The province’s 39th representative of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth - the 29th since Canadian confederation in 1867 - spoke for 15 minutes to the crowd of more than 100 people at Oxford Auditorium during the 4-H Oxford showcase.

In her speech, she emphasized the role 4-H played during her youth in helping teach her life lessons she continues to use in her role as Lieutenant Governor.

“I think it’s a very big moment for the kids to see, especially having someone of that stature explain how 4-H has helped them,” 4-H Oxford chair Dwight Hargreaves said. “People are always looking for work and if you mention 4-H in your interview, that can help because they know the value 4-H has instilled in their members.”

Dowdeswell has travelled much of Ontario since being appointed Lieutenant Governor in 2014. She discussed the theme of sustainability as well as visiting towns and cities throughout Ontario to listen to their concerns, but also what makes them proud of their communities. Following her speech, Dowdeswell mingled with 4-H Oxford members and visited the different stations that had been set up to showcase information on 4-H and projects it’s members had completed.

The process of getting Dowdeswell to visit Woodstock began several months ago when 4-H Oxford volunteer Katherine Grieve saw her speak on a TV news show. During the interview, Dowdeswell mentioned how 4-H had helped her when she grew up in rural Saskatchewan after emigrating from Northern Ireland with her family at a young age.

After Grieve submitted an application for Dowdeswell to speak in Oxford, they were able to set a date to coincide with the 4-H Oxford showcase.

4-H is a worldwide youth organization focusing on helping to develop youth between six and 21. The four H’s stand for head, heart, hands and health. 4-H Oxford has more than 200 members and more than 50 volunteers.

“It’s a youth focused evening and we wanted to hear the impact 4-H has had on Her Honours (Dowdeswell) life with her experiences,” Grieve said.

The Lieutenant Governor position is a viceroy representative of Canada’s head of state, Queen Elizabeth II.

The rest of the evening featured square dancing, collecting donations for Farm Credit Canada Drive Away Hunger campaign and viewing of several displays spread throughout the Oxford Auditorium. Members of 4-H Oxford were also presented with awards for completion of projects.

“I hope it empowers them,” Grieve said of what she hopes members take away from hearing Dowdeswell speak. “It’s interesting to hear how it helped prepare her. In our 4-H projects we help the youth learn public speaking, parliamentary procedure, judging or critical thinking skills. We work that in so our members become confident and make judgements from buying groceries to doing their job.

“To have someone of Her Honours stature visit and share her time is a privilege and one the youth can learn from,” she added.