Three Manitobans are among 4-H Canada's 2023 national award recipients, announced Monday.
Jon Montgomery, a proud second-generation 4-H’er in his hometown of Russell, has been given the Distinguished Alumni Award, presented to honour the outstanding leadership and contributions of 4-H alumni to their communities, country, and the world. 

Olympic Champion and renowned TV host of The Amazing Race Canada, 4-H Canada says Montgomery has continued to live and breathe 4-H values throughout his career as an elite athlete, philanthropist, and national TV host, and embodies leadership skills, pride in his rural roots, drive to achieve world-class goals, and a ‘can-do’ attitude that parallels 4-H Canada’s ‘Learn To Do By Doing’ motto. These 4-H values have taken him far, including the top of the podium in the sport of skeleton at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics. In 2013, he made his television debut on The Amazing Race Canada and remains the beloved host today.

Jon Montgomery has been given the Distinguished Alumni AwardJon Montgomery has been given the Distinguished Alumni Award. (Supplied/4-H Canada)

A household name in Canada and around the world, 4-H Canada says Jon frequently uses his platforms as a motivational speaker on topics close to his heart, including leadership, teamwork, and healthy living. A strong advocate for agriculture, Jon has also been a fixture at important ag-related events around the country, including Manitoba AgDays and the GrowCanada Conference.

In 2023, 4-H Canada was proud to have Jon host the virtual 2023 4-H Canada Leadership Awards, where he led the celebration of 4-H youth, leaders, and supporters around the country. In a subsequent interview with The Pledge, 4-H Canada’s alumni magazine, Jon stated, “Life is about teamwork and collaboration, and 4-H teaches that. When you’re working with other kids towards a common goal, you’re caring about the people around you – that’s what we need more of in this world.”
Additionally, Brandon's Kim Beilby is one of two Honourary Members named this year, a designation that recognizes individuals who have rendered outstanding service to 4-H, sponsored by FCC.

Joining a 4-H Beef Club as a youth member, 4-H Canada says it was a life-changing experience for Beilby - leading her to pursue a 33-year career in public service, with many of those years directly working to enhance and grow the 4-H movement in Canada.

From 1986 to 2005, Kim was the Regional 4-H & Youth Specialist for the Manitoba Department of Agriculture, renowned for innovative and relevant 4-H program development. She wrote over 20 4-H project manuals which reflected her collaborative approach in working with experienced volunteer leaders and industry subject matter experts to ensure accurate, balanced, and timely materials.

In 1999, Kim spearheaded the Manitoba 4-H Quality Equation educational framework and resource, which became the basis of all leadership development work within Manitoba 4-H. From there, she managed the Manitoba 4-H Program from 2005 to 2008, positively impacting 1,800 volunteers and over 4,000 youth members through her results-oriented and team-based approach. Kim’s next venture involved taking the lead on the restructuring of 4-H Manitoba’s governance. The program delivery structure she established in 2006 remains in place today and became the basis for the successful transition of oversight from the government to the Manitoba 4-H Council.

After spending 11 years dedicated to various branches of Manitoba government policy, strategic planning, and industry foundations, Kim’s career came full circle. Prior to her retirement from the public service sector, she dedicated her wealth of experience and knowledge in programs, partnerships, and policy to the 4-H funding portfolio.

Throughout her life, Kim has lived and breathed 4-H, and has been a true champion for rural communities and agriculture within Manitoba, with the ripple effect of her contributions reaching across the country, and around the world.

Finally, Shelley Bjarnarson of the Neepawa & Area 4-H Beef Club has been named Volunteer Leader of the Year for Manitoba. 
4-H Canada would like to thank everyone who participated in the 2023 Awards program, including the above sponsors and McDonald’s Canada, nominators, and the review committee. 

The 2023 4-H Canada National Award recipients will be celebrated during the 2024 Leadership Summit, taking place April 12-14 in Vancouver, BC. The event will also celebrate the 2023 Leadership Excellence Awards of Distinction Scholarship recipients, sponsored by CN.  Further details will be communicated as they become available.  

Click here for more information on the 4-H Canada National Award program.