Walton's Baan living his dream in 4-H Canada position - Farm 2019
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
After a childhood of 4-H Club involvement, Walton native Ryan Baan has now landed his “dream job” working with 4-H Canada as its marketing and communications co-ordinator.
Baan, the son of Don and Monique Baan of Walton, started full-time with 4-H Canada just under a year ago after beginning his time as an intern and then as a part-time employee as he finished university.
It was Baan’s father who first alerted him to the possibility of working for 4-H Canada. Baan said his father saw an intern job posting on Twitter and sent the information along.
The position was for an intern for the 2017 Global 4-H Network Summit, which Canada hosted in Ottawa. It was the second such summit held, meant to bring together 4-H Club members from all over the world.
Baan was in his third year at Carleton University in Ottawa and hunting for a summer job. He was starting to get discouraged when his father reached out to him with the 4-H Canada intern information.
He got the job and was instantly thrown into an intense situation, as the national headquarters was preparing to welcome over 500 young people from over 35 countries to Ottawa for the second-ever summit.
Baan said it was a stressful, but very exciting time. He began to learn very quickly just how far-reaching 4-H is in the world and how different the members around the world can be, but also how much they all have in common.
He found the experience to be life-changing, especially as someone who had grown up in the 4-H program.
“I really loved 4-H before, but seeing all those people in one place that summer, I really fell so much more in love with 4-H,” Baan said.
Baan worked as an intern for just under four months with the organization and they then parted ways. As he returned to university and began his fourth and final year, his current position needed to be filled and he applied to 4-H Canada once again.
He was hired on a part-time basis as he finished university and his first full-time day at 4-H Canada in his current position was the day after his last class at Carleton.
Baan says it really is his dream job. He’s been passionate about 4-H since he first became a member and then a leader, but seeing the wheels turn at a national level has given him a new appreciation for what the organization means to not just Canadian young people, but youth around the world (there are currently over seven million 4-H members spread over 70 countries all over the world).
It was in 2008 when Baan joined his first 4-H Club. He waited for a year to be eligible at the same time as his brother Adam, who is a year younger than him. Baan’s mother was a leader at the time, just as her mother had been, and he soon jumped in with both feet, becoming a member of every club his mother led after she established the Grey Township 4-H Club.
In addition to all of the local clubs, Baan also joined the Central Huron 4-H Swine Club to show pigs when he was young. He would then go on to serve as a leader of many clubs as well.
Baan said he immediately felt at home in local 4-H Clubs and he says the biggest draw for him was meeting new people and making new friends. To this day, Baan says that it’s the people that keeps him wanting to get more and more involved with 4-H, especially after seeing the membership at a global level at that 2017 summit.
As a youth, not only was Baan involved in local 4-H Clubs, but he and his brother would attend provincial 4-H camps whenever they could, which helped them reach further into the 4-H Ontario stratosphere.
Through those experiences, Baan said it really helped him to get out of his comfort zone and meet new people, which really gets to the heart of the 4-H program.
Being a 4-H Club alumnus, Baan is actually only one of a handful working at 4-H Canada. He said he was surprised to find that, but it’s not all bad, because those who are new to 4-H also bring a fresh perspective to the organization’s work.
At the national level, Baan says that the organization works to oversee all of the good work being done by 4-H Clubs all across the country. In addition, it helps to provide programming and opportunities for Canadian youth.
Working with 4-H Canada, Baan says, really has been all he hoped it would be. He says he still loves going into work every day. There are times, he says, where he has to give his head a shake and realize that he really works for an organization for which he cares so deeply.
“I love what I do and it gives me an opportunity to give back to an organization that has meant so much to me,” Baan said.
For more information on 4-H Canada, visit www.4-h-canada.ca.