Kirkton Dairy 4-H Club seeking Libro Grant for community shelter expansion – By Dan Rankin

KirktonPictured are the senior members of the Kirkton Dairy 4-H Club, seated on the fence of the community shelter they currently use. From left are Glenn Benoit, Kristen Schmidt, Michael Reijnen, Derek Van De Walle, Nick de Jong, Joel Hartman, Thomas Pockett and Jordy Reijnen. Absent were Lauren Benoit, Kirsten de Jong and Katie McCurdy.
If the Kirkton Dairy 4-H Club has its way, it won’t be long before there’s a new, expanded community shelter at the Kirkton Fairgrounds that will benefit not only them and their show calves on achievement day each year, but also clubs and groups throughout the community.
According to its website, Libro Credit Union’s annual granting program, the Libro Prosperity Fund, is aimed at benefitting farmers and businesses in Southwestern Ontario. With its application to the fund, the Kirkton Dairy 4-H Club is seeking to take advantage of its “Youth Leadership” branch, in hopes of funding a new and expanded community shelter at the Kirkton Fairgrounds.
The current shelter, located on the north side of the Kirkton-Woodham community centre complex, is large enough to fit between 20 and 25 calves, Kirkton club president Joel Hartman said. “But our club is growing and we need some more room,” he said.
“We have 30 calves this year,” said club member Kristen Schmidt. “We also use the shelter for our clipping day, to show the younger members what to do on show day and give them an idea of what’s going to be going on.”
But besides being too small for their current needs, the shelter also lacks running water and sufficient power to meet their occasional electrical needs.
“We have to carry buckets of water over from the pavilion,” Hartman said. “It’s not very convenient.”
Schmidt added that the club can’t run more than one blow dryer at a time, or else they risk “blowing the breaker.”
“Instead of adding on to the existing shelter, we thought we’d try to build a new one that can be used by more than just our club, because lots of different things go on in Kirkton,” He said. “We’d like to have gates that are removable down the middle so we could tie up calves there, and have a little area to clip them or wash them.”
The new space, which they envision as a 32’ by 48’ building, could be used for their show days in the event of rainy weather, or by other rec leagues, clubs and organizations, he said. They estimate such a project would cost about $40,000, considerably more than the grant provision of between $5,000 and $10,000, but, as Hartman noted, Kirkton’s location on the border of the counties of Perth and Huron may present them a unique opportunity. “If they choose, it’s possible they could combine them for a bit bigger grant,” he said.
The club has received a great deal of community support already, including an endorsement by Perth South township council at their June 2 meeting, and interest about partnerships from organizations including the Kirkton Fair Board, the Optimist Club, the Kirkton-Woodham Farmer’s Group, as well as the local women’s institute and horticultural society.
That’s important, as their grant proposal (due on Monday) requires them to include letters of support and proof of project sponsorship.
“If the grant and everything goes through, then we can hopefully find a few more sponsors, and get some more money together,” Hartman said, with construction getting under way in 2016 or 2017.
The Kirkton Dairy 4-H Club is also accepting in-kind support from the surrounding community for the shelter project. They also thank the support of club leaders Ada de Jong, Sandi Brock, Becky de Wit and Lisa Snyder.