Fourth-year Animal Science student Jacob Onyschuk displays the trophy he won as the recipient of the Premier's 4-H award.
Jacob Onyschuk may have only joined 4-H four years ago, but he’s done a lot in those years — so much that the Faculty of ALES student was this year’s recipient of the prestigious Premier’s Award.
Onyschuk, entering his fourth year of Animal Science, was chosen from among 100 of the province’s top 4-H members for the Premier’s Award, recognizing outstanding 4-H achievement.
“It was pretty exciting. There was a lot of support from all the members. Everybody was, it seemed, almost rooting for me. It was really reassuring because I’ve been involved in 4-H for about four years, which is less than most members, but I’ve done quite a lot over those four years,” he said.
Before Onyschuk dove headfirst into 4-H, he had another passion —dancing. He attended high school at the Victoria School for the Arts and even travelled to New York to compete. But a family move from St. Albert to a farm in Legal when he was in grade 10 changed everything.
“At the start of high school, my goal was to become a dancer. I fully intended to move to New York and pursue the whole dance career lifestyle, but it was that move to the farm, that introduction to 4-H that made me totally switch my mind and realize that I was so much more passionate about agriculture and that was definitely the path for me.”
It was in Legal that he met a friend involved in 4-H and became interested in it himself.
“Grade 12 was my first year as a 4-H member and that was probably the biggest turning point that got me involved in agriculture,” he said. “It came natural, I guess.”
Convinced that he wanted to be a vet, Onyschuk entered the pre-vet program at the Faculty of ALES, but switched after a semester.
“There’s so much more to actually raising the animal, that I wanted to be the person either involved with nutrition or genetics to prevent problems from occurring rather than being a veterinarian who seems to be the one fixing the problems.”
Entering his fourth year, Onyschuk isn’t sure yet what he’s going to do after his degree, but he’s definitely going to be involved in agriculture in some capacity.
Onyschuk is now a member of the Bon Accord 4-H and Vimy Dunrobin 4-H Multi Club, has competed provincially in public speaking, and is part of the U of A’s Livestock Judging Club and Collegiate 4-H Club.
As the recipient of the Premier’s Award, Onyschuk will represent Alberta 4-H nationally and internationally. He’ll travel to Montana for a conference and then plan an international youth agriculture conference themed around feeding the growing world population. The conference, to take place August 2013, will feature 120 delegates from 20 different countries and will be held at Old’s College.