R to L: Deputy Mayor Doug Kellum, Kristen Portena, Sam Johnston, Mayor Todd Kasenberg. Photo Credit: Ashley Ferraro

4-H members recognized by North Perth Council for 2018 RAWF win

By Ashley Ferraro

Two members of the Atwood 4-H Club were presented with medallions by Mayor Todd Kasenberg at the Monday’s North Perth Council meeting.

Kristen Portena and Sam Johnston were both big winners at the last Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto. Portena won the 2018 All Canadian Summer Yearling Jersey, while Johnston won the 2018 All Canadian Jersey Junior Yearling.

The double-win was the first time that the Atwood 4-H Club has taken home the gold at the TD Canadian 4-H Dairy Classic at The Royal.

Johnston recalled the moment he was named winner. “It meant a lot. It was a dream come true.”

Johnston said that 2018 was his first time exhibiting at The Royal. “I’ve always gone and watched and dreamt of being able to participate and being successful. You always dream of that and it was very surreal to be a part of that.”

The competition at The Royal was fierce but Portena trained hard in preparation of the event. Portena said achieving the win was a great feeling. “It was definitely a happy morning when I found out that my heifer had won. It’s just a pat on the back for all the hard work that you do throughout the year.”

North Perth Councillor Dave Johnston has been leading the two winning members for the last eight years. Councillor Johnston is one of three leaders of the Atwood 4-H Dairy Club and is also Sam’s father.

Councillor Johnston attended The Royal and witnessed the double-win. He admits that when his son won, he was overwhelmed.

“That moment was once in a lifetime. I nearly fell over. I could only see a little bit of it because the tears were flowing from me at that point. It was one of those moments I will never forget,” says Johnston.

At the council meeting, Mayor Todd Kasenberg invited the councillors to come up and congratulate the two 4-H members. Each councillor shook the winners’ hands but as 4-H leader, Dave Johnston reached the front of the line, he embraced both 4-H members with a hug.

Councillor Johnston says that both 4-H members worked hard to earn their achievements. “Both of those kids were at upwards of eight shows all year. So training their calves, getting the calves in shape, working with those calves on a nearly daily basis.” His hope is that other Atwood 4-H members will feel inspired by the two winning members.

“It gives the rest of the club something to look up to and say that ‘if we work hard and work with our calf and have good calves, this is what can happen’ -that you can definitely win at The Royal and Perth County can be very proud.”

Portena encourages younger members in her club to persevere.

“I’d say never to give up. You never know what’s going to come. Each judge judges your calf differently, so don’t give up because you never know what’s around the corner,” said Portena. She added the invitation from North Perth Council was unexpected. “This was definitely a shock when I was invited to receive recognition. It was nice to know that North Perth stands behind us.”

Sam Johnston adds that he was not expecting the recognition either. “My dad being a council member, kind of hinted at it, but it was definitely a shock.” He adds that the award was very heartwarming. “I’m very thankful that they recognize what we do. It makes you feel like a valued member of our community.”

Councillor Johnston said that North Perth’s diverse council helps in recognizing all of the provincial and national awards won in the community. He adds that North Perth aims to celebrate all youth achievements from 4-H to figure skating and everything in between.