The Bloomingdale resident used to be a 4-H member and when her children became old enough to join she and her husband decided to become 4-H leaders.
Growing up on a hobby farm, she participated primarily in cooking and sewing clubs. Since the time she was a 4-H member herself, the variety of clubs has expanded hugely.
“The kids are so lucky nowadays. There’s not that gender line sort of thing there quite as much as it was. In Waterloo Region we’ve had boys taking sewing club and there’s so many of the girls that are in the animal clubs and all of that. I really like to see that, that there’s no more gender lines through there. It’s great,” Snyder said.
As a leader she’s helped lead clubs on square dancing, rabbits, decorating, gardening, cake decorating, pollinating, and the list goes on. She makes sure to mention each club is run by at least two leaders, so she’s definitely not doing it alone.
“I’ve led a lot, maybe a bit too much at times,” she laughs.
She helped with the 100th Anniversary 4-H Club for two years planning special events to pull off the milestone. She notes the 100th anniversary celebration out at Steckle Heritage Farm last June and a smaller event at the Waterloo Region Museum last September where they had an old fashioned fair.
She guesses she leads about six clubs each year, but a few less this year than usual.
“My husband just started maple syrup club this last weekend and 37 kids came out to look into it. I expect that most of them will go on and take the club and find out how maple syrup is produced. To me that’s really exciting. They weren’t expecting that many kids to come,” Snyder said.
She thinks the organization should look at starting a couple more clubs earlier in the spring.
And she’s quick to point out it’s not just a social event for the rural kids. Plenty of city kids join 4-H to get a taste of farm life, and to try something new.
She doesn’t lead a sheep club but she and her husband have hobby sheep on their farm. So 4-H kids come out and get to learn how to take care of and train a sheep on their farm. Lambing is expected to begin next week.
“I like that city kids can have a connection to the farm. That to us is very important that those kids get to experience that,” Snyder said.
And as most 4-H members and leaders will tell you, the skills they learn are invaluable. Through judging competitions, showmanship, and public speaking they get to learn leadership and how to be community leaders.
While Snyder doesn’t enjoy public speaking, she recalls how her first kick at the can at a 4-H event was worth it.
“I had to talk about the display we had and I remember that day when I had to do it I was terrified. I remember crying the whole way through it, so I’m not sure what the audience got out of my speech. I think I might have thrown up before hand. I know my mother was ringing her hands the whole time. The leader kept saying to me we can get someone else to do it, if you don’t want to do it it’s okay. I thought ‘no I have to do this.’ I volunteered to do it and I was going to go through with it. It was kind of a horrible experience, but it didn’t kill me. And even though I don’t enjoy public speaking I know that I can do it. And I think it’s served me well through other times when I had to speak in public,” Snyder said.
She says 100 years later 4-H is still going strong and it’s just as important to instill a love for volunteering early to keep kids coming back later to better their community.
4-H leader and 2013 4-H national volunteer of the year recipient, John Drummond commends Snyder for her contributions to the club.
“Anne, first of all, has a heart of gold and so much of what she does, she does for other people,” Drummond said. “She’s a wonderful volunteer, but secondly last year was the 100th anniversary of 4-H in Ontario and it was the 100th anniversary of 4-H in Waterloo. We are the first 4-H club. And she headed up the 100th anniversary committee that put on a couple of celebrations and it just had a huge impact and she did a fantastic job with it.”
The award was voted on based on nominations from the club and was given out at the Waterloo 4-H annual meeting late last month.
“There’s nothing more important than volunteers in society, and when somebody does a good job we need to tell them that,” Drummond said.