By Gaeil Farrar and Lyn Stafford
Bill and Virginia-Lyn (Lyn) Stafford, the 2014 Daybreak Rotary Stampede Parade Honorary Parade Marshals, and their families are continuing a B.C. 4-H Club tradition that spans four generations and more than 50 years.
Fittingly the parade theme this year is the number 4 and the letter H.
Bill and Lyn operate the Chimney Creek Hereford Ranch with their two sons Ross and James.
Growing up Bill and his siblings were involved in showing cattle with his parents, the late Bill Sr. and Beryl Stafford, who introduced their children to the 4-H program during the late 1950s.
The senior Staffords felt the 4-H program provided valuable training in animal husbandry, public speaking and much more.
Bill Sr. supported 4-H in every possible way he could, becoming a parent leader and 4-H Club supporter.
Their four children joined the Springhouse 4-H Club with Bill Jr. and Betty starting as pre-club members. Betty was a member from 1960 to 1971; Elaine from 1961 to 1973; Bill Jr. from 1963 to 1975; and Fred from 1973 to 1983.
The children always had beef projects, until Betty and Elaine decided to do a tractor project on which Bill Sr. had to do some repairs when they were done.
Over the years the Stafford children won many awards in showmanship, grooming, judging, public speaking, demonstrations and their market steers.
Elaine won grand champion steer in 1966 and was the first 4-H member to get a $1 a pound for her steer. The steer was bought by Mel Call and Frank Armes (Lyn’s grandfather).
Betty took reserve champion that same year.
In 1972 Bill won grand aggregate and calf scramble. Donated by Cariboo Concrete the calf weighed 490 pounds. That was the starting weight of a market steer back then.
4-H doesn’t have the calf scramble anymore for the safety of members and the animals.
When Fred joined he also won grand champion steer in 1976 and as a boy created a picture in leather craft of a cowboy roping a calf that was donated as a 4-H raffle fundraiser. Ray and Chrissy Pigeon won the picture.
Bill and his sister Betty went on to become 4-H leaders at the Chimney Valley Community 4-H Club during 1978 to 1979. Betty was the main leader and Bill was the beef leader.
Bill and Lyn were married in 1978 and raised their three children, Ross, James and Connie-Lyn in the Springhouse 4-H Club with Bill and Lyn becoming club leaders.
Lyn started out as a leather craft leader.
Bill served as assistant leader of the club under Bill Bennett, and took over the club as main leader in 1990, with Lyn serving as assistant leader, and serving as a leader with the Springhouse and Chimney Valley 4-H clubs for 25 years.
Ross joined 4-H in 1989 at the age of nine. James and Connie-Lyn, joined as pre-club members in 1990 and 1991 respectively.
As a pre-club member James couldn’t sell his steer in the regular 4-H sale so they sold it at the old Stockyards on South Lakeside where the pellet plant is today.
Connie-Lyn joined 4-H with a swine project as a pre-club member, but from then on raised beef.
Pre-club members are now Clover Buds from age six to eight.
For safety sake Clover Buds are not permitted to raise animals.
In 2000 the Stafford children won the best group of four steers and the best group of two heifers with all of the projects coming from the Stafford Ranch.
Ross won grand-champion heifer; Connie-Lyn reserve champion cow/calf, and James won runner-up champion market steer three times.
At age 20, Connie-Lyn became one of the first 4-H ambassadors serving in 2002 and 2003. Her cousin, Amy, followed in her footsteps as ambassador in 2011 and 2012.
Bill and Lyn have continued as leaders in various 4-H capacities for many years.
Bill served as a club leader for 14 years and as the Williams Lake district council president from 1998 to 2002 when he retired a leader.
Bill continues to support the 4-H program by supporting its members at the annual 4-H Show and Sale in August, hosting club achievement days, serving as a beef judge at other club’s achievement days and at judging rallies, and providing projects for the 4-H Club members.
Bill and Lyn are now looking forward to their youngest grandchildren joining 4-H when they are old enough.
Ross and Dorreen, have four children, Henry and Lisa-Marie Stafford and step-sons, Andrew and Tyler. Ross has been a Springhouse leader for 10 years and served two years as district vice-president before becoming the 4-H district president in 2013/14.
Connie-Lyn and her husband, Travis Redl (who also grew up in 4-H), have two daughters, Willa-Lyn and MacKenzie-Rae. Connie-Lyn continues the tradition of being a 4-H leader in beef.
James is single.
The family members are also huge Stampede supporters both watching and participating. Ross, Travis and James compete in the ranch rodeo challenges.
Bill’s brother, Fred (a key leader), and his wife, Elaine, also continue the family tradition as 4-H leaders with the Chimney Valley 4-H Club. Their three children Amy, Ian, and Allan, have all been Chimney Valley club members in swine, small engines, and gardening. Allan, who has won champion garden display, is still an active club member.
Bill’s sister Elaine (Cawley) and her husband, Cliff’s children, Marina, Naomi and Regan also joined 4-H about the same time as Bill and Lyn’s children did.
Marina won reserve champion steer and Naomi won runner up steer, while Amy won grand champion market swine.
During their more than 50-year involvement with 4-H Bill and Lyn have seen a lot of changes in the 4-H program, all progressing to the standards and rules of today’s industries.
Food, grandparents, bicycles, small engines, sheep, beef, swine, poultry, rabbits, horses, dogs, photography, and tractors, are just some of the many programs 4-H offers today in the Cariboo Regional District.
At the coast there are many more projects offered including dairy cows, sewing, and even lama projects.
Lyn and Bill Stafford continue to support the 4-H program any way they can and hope their grandchildren, and great-grandchildren will carry on the family tradition.