By Tom Collins
METCALFE — Karen Velthuis lives by the same simple motto of 4-H: learn to do by doing.
She also tries to convince others to do the same, especially children.
A tireless 4-H volunteer for more than 25 years, Velthuis keeps eight 4-H calves on her farm, with seven of them belonging to youth with no farm background.
“It teaches kids responsibility about looking after an animal,” says Velthuis, who milks 80 cows at Riverdown Holsteins, near Metcalfe, with her husband John, and her parents, Ron and Betty Eastman.
“It gives kids, who wouldn’t have a chance to be in contact with cattle, something to have other than sports. It gives them something to look up to when they’re trying to achieve other things in life.”
Her 4-H work is one of the reasons why the Master Breeder was given the outstanding dairy women service award by Ontario Holstein in February. Besides her 4-H work, Velthuis also coaches the county classic team at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair each year, conducts an annual judging clinic at her farm for 150 youth, co-chairs the county Holstein show, co-chairs the 4-H championship show and has been a member of the Eastern Ontario-Western Quebec Championship Show committee for 30 years.
She also volunteered with three national Holstein convention committees, coached hockey and ball hockey, taught Sunday school and vacation bible school, and was the first woman to serve as a director for the Holstein Ontario Branch.
Next for Velthuis is a new barn with two Lely robot milkers, to be constructed in 2016. With more time on her hands because of the robots, she and her husband plan to do some cow-related travelling across the globe.