The Ponoka Silver Valley 4-H Riders have been very lucky to be involved in a club to club exchange with the Sun Rise Trail 4-H Club from Pictou, Nova Scotia.
The 4-H Canada’s Club to Club Exchange, offered in partnership with Canadian Heritage, lets members explore Canada’s rich history while experiencing all that our country has to offer.
Our week began with a get together at MSW Farms where we played icebreaker games to get to know each other a little better. Then we ate together and toured the farm and animals via tractor and wagon.
The next day we were off to Drumheller. We started the day with a stop at the one of a kind Gopher Hole Museum in Torrington, which was fun to see. We then visited the Royal Tyrell Museum and stopped at the Hoodoos, Horse Thief Canyon and Dry Island Buffalo Jump.
On our “Bringing History to Life” day we gave the exchange group a taste of our western culture and rodeo history. We were greeted at the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame by Ponoka Stampede President Bruce Harbin, 2018 Miss Ponoka Stampede Alicia Erickson and former Stampede president and board member Frank Mickey.
After touring the hall and taking in a bit of the Reining Cow Horse event at the Calnash Ag Event Center, we headed over to the Stagecoach Saloon where we were treated to a stagecoach ride and tour of the Stampede grounds.
Mickey brought history to life sharing with us stories from his many years of experience with the Ponoka Stampede. We were then treated to slurpees, which were very refreshing before our road trip.
In keeping with experiencing our western culture, we ended the day at the very rainy, but fun and entertaining Benalto Rodeo, which proved to be a favorite of the exchange group.
The following day was quieter starting with a swim at the Manluk centre in Wetaskiwin followed by a tour of the Bos Goat Farm and Rock Ridge Dairy. We toured the processing facility and had a taste of goat’s milk then got to see the goat milking in action.
The next day was a long, but very good one as we “chilled” at the Columbia Icefields.
We started our tour by walking on the glass floor of the Skywalk and learning about the wildlife in the area, then we toured the icefields and took a bus right onto the glacier.
We filled our water bottles with fresh glacier water that we enjoyed on our hike to Siffleur Falls, where most of the kids dipped their heads into the fresh mountain water.
Our final day together was our Community Service Project Day.
We started the day at the Ponoka town office where we met with Mayor Rick Bonnett, CAO Albert Flootman and Coun. Ted Dillon.
It was then off to the Ellis Bird Farm for a tour where we learned a lot about different creatures and had a great lunch. After lunch we worked together to build bird houses that will be placed along the Battle River. When we completed the bird house building, we were treated to a unique experience of banding baby bluebirds followed by a talk from the Battle River Watershed Alliance.
Overall, it was a very busy and fun filled week where we made new friends and fantastic, long lasting memories.
A big thank you to our exchange organizers, Shanon Archibald and Tina Stewart, for the many hours spent planning and organizing to provide our club and the Nova Scotians with such a wonderful Alberta experience.
Also thank you to 4-H Alberta, 4-H Canada and the many businesses and individuals that donated their time, financial aid and expertise to our exchange.
We would like to thank FCC, AFSC, Ponoka County, Town of Ponoka and UFA for their financial contributions that along with our fundraising efforts helped to make this a great experience for everybody involved.
Editor’s note: The Ponoka Silver Valley 4-H club is currently on the second leg of the exchange, having left for Pictou, Nova Scotia on July 21 and returning July 28.