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Coastal Focus on 4-H and FFA: the Lalonde Family

February 19, 2023

In the coming months leading up to fair and beyond, we’ll be introducing you to some of the stars of 4-H and FFA (Future Farmers of America) and learn what it’s like to be part of these essential institutions. If we’re lucky, we’ll circle back with some of our featured volunteers and participates to found out how they did at fair, competition, and in life. This month, we’d like you to meet the Lalonde family out of Brownsville, Oregon.

Get Involved in FFA and 4-H

The 4-H mission is to give young people access to opportunity. They’ve been doing just that for more than 100 years. Those opportunities include learning how to raise crops and livestock, as well as sewing, writing, shooting, archery, jewelry making, and more. Find a 4-H group near you or stop by your local Coastal and we’ll tell you all about 4-H groups in your area. If you’re in high school, FFA could be the extracurricular activity for you. Helping train future farmers in leadership, farm practices, and job skills for just over 100 years, FFA is an institution at rural and some urban high schools throughout Oregon and Washington.

Meet Daisy, Morgan, Renee, Ben, and Jet (the dog) Lalonde

Driving into the hills outside Brownsville, Oregon, it’s easy to understand why people love this area. It’s quiet and secluded, yet close enough to essentials that you don’t feel isolated. For generations the many small farms and homesteads in this area have been cared for by country folk who understand the value of well-tilled dirt, healthy livestock, and a sturdy fence. The Lalonde family is no exception. They enjoy every minute of their lives on their picturesque property.

When Ben and Renee met nearly 20 years ago at a dance in Salem, they didn’t know their lives would be dominated with before- and after-school sports, 4-H, homework, dinner as a family, and chores galore. But now that they’re here, they wouldn’t have it any other way.

“We have a God calendar,” Renee joked about their daily schedule. “If it’s on the calendar, we make it happen no matter what.”

That calendar is often filled with swimming, track, and cross-country practices, school events, and errands around the property. Other calendar events include 4-H meetings and get-togethers for Ben and his shooting teams as well as Renee’s cattle groups. Add to that the couple’s work schedules (with Ben working as an engineer for the state of Oregon and Renee teaching science and ag at a local private school), and it’s easy to see why their family calendar is always full.

That busy schedule, as well as loving and involved parents, have made the Lalonde sisters what they are today.



Thanks to 4-H and their parents, Daisy (16) and Morgan (12) have raised breeding heifers, market steers, been part of the pistol and rifle shooting sports programs, written poetry and done paintings for the exhibit halls at fair. They’ve won awards and state competitions, received plenty of accolades, and learned a lot of life lessons. Recently, Daisy has started participating in 4-H leadership within her local club.


While raising and showing cattle is a mainstay of 4-H, shooting sports is also an option.

As Ben explains it, the 4-H shooting programs he helps facilitate teach youth about safe and responsible use of firearms as well as marksmanship.


“We cover safety at every meeting,” Ben said about his 4-H leadership. He and his wife then shared one of the principles of 4-H that helps kids become successful, confident adults. “In 4-H we teach kids to come up with a plan to better themselves, practice it, and make adjustments as needed to improve.”

That principle is used in all aspects of 4-H, including raising cattle.


When it comes to market steers, Renee knows her stuff. As the regions 4-H  co-superintendent of cattle, it’s her job to coordinate volunteers and help youth learn the principles behind raising, training, and showing market steers and breeding heifers. 

As for the future of 4-H, Ben and Renee Lalonde are hopeful. Ben said he sees 4-H as a “program to supplement public school for additional subjects to learn, and home school for other subjects and peer involvement.”


Similarly, Renee feels the program will continue to return to its roots. “The four H’s (head, hands, heart, health) are needed more today than ever. Teaching kids to use their skills in their communities will help keep the program strong.”

Part of the strength of 4-H comes from its many volunteers and participants.

How much time do the Lalonde sisters and their parents give to 4-H? As Renee explains it, 4-H is a year-round thing. “On average, you’ll spend 20 hours a week planning, preparing, and leading.” For the kids, it all depends on what they plan to raise, learn, or show.

When asked what the Lalonde sisters like best about 4-H and fair, they quickly rattled off some impressive and fun answers.

“I like saying goodbye to my steer,” stated Morgan. “Then look forward to the baby cow snuggles that are coming.”

“I like hitting my goals,” Daisy explained. “When you do, it’s like good closure and starting anew. I like new beginnings.”

And what do they both like best about shooting sports with their dad? “Hitting the target!” was the resounding answer.


Wrapping Up Their Day

As the family finished up the early evening chores, they set off to make dinner and eat together. It’s something they do every night. Afterward, they might watch a show or two as a family, then set off for bed and an early start. Good-night, Lalonde family. You too, Jet.

Coastal is Proud to Support County Youth with Special Discounts

Those in 4-H, FFA, OHSET, or WASET, can take advantage of the special Coastal youth ag discounts on regular priced purchases directly related to an animal or project. Learn more about this amazing program here or stop by your local Coastal. We’ll be glad to share all the details and help you sign up.