For this Discovery Day event 9 4-H’ers and friends of 4-H departed from the Macdonald campus in St-Anne-de-Bellevue and took a quick 6 minute drive to the neighbouring Valacta the Dairy Production Center of Expertise Quebec-Atlantic.
Milk Lab and Lasers
by Shawville 4-H’er Andrew Hickey
On Saturday January 18th nine 4-H’ers and friends toured the Valacta Facility in Saint-Anne-de- Bellevue. Valacta is a company that is owned largely by FPLQ (Fédération des producteurs de lait du Québec), but also by McGill and MAPAQ (ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation du Québec). Valacta’s main focus is on improving the profitability and sustainability of the dairy industry in Quebec. They achieve this goal by offering a wide variety of services that allow producers to make more informed decisions that will ultimately impact their business and allow it to grow and be competitive in the dairy industry.
When we arrived at the facility, we were greeted by Julie Baillargeon. Julie has a Master’s degree in science. She informed us that Valacta wasn’t always called Valacta it was started as DHAS (dairy herd Analyse Service) in 1966 by McGill Professor, Dr. John Moxley. It was in 2006 that it became Valacta as we know it today. Valacta gets its name from three words VALue, ACTion, and LACTA for the dairy sector. The facility tests milk samples sent to them by producers from across Quebec. Samples are tested and results are sent back to producers within 48 hours. Valacta is able to give producers results on fat and protein content for each of their cows. We were very fortunate to be allowed on to the floor where we were able to see first-hand how they test and analyse milk samples.
After we had finished our tour, we headed to Darkzone laser tag in Laval where we were the yellow team for all three games that we played. We put skill and team work together and were able to win all three games. Everyone had such a blast that we are hoping in the future to be able to get a group together large enough to play overnight.
On the 26th of October a group of 15 4-H’ers and friends headed to the Eastern Townships to visit the cheese making facilities of Fromagerie La Station, there they learned about the art of cheese making from the cheese master himself. Thenthey got their wheels spinning (not cheese wheels though) at Karting St-Alphonse off Highway 10, where they raced on a track that was specifically designed to mimic a NASCAR track!
Cheese and Karting
by MAC/JAC 4-H’er Shinae Hartley
The trip to Fromagerie La Station de Compton and subsequent go karting at Karting Ste. Alphonse was well worth the two-and-a-half-hour drive from Ste Anne de Bellevue. The morning began with a tour around the fromagerie, guided by Martin, and highlighted all the key steps in the cheese making process. We were shown, through windows, the preparation room where they receive the milk, as well as where the curds and whey are separated; afterwards we were shown the aging room where La Station’s four specialty cheeses are aged. Martin explained the process behind each, as well as emphasized the importance of milk quality– if there is any change in consistency, it does not get found out until nearly nine months after the milk was harvested, when the cheese is ready for consumption. The visit ended with a round of cheese sampling, as well as a taste of some homemade maple syrup.
The karting that followed was anything but plain. Rain had blanketed the course and made for a slick round, and the wheels on the karts slid and drifted more than expected– but of course that only made it all the more intense. Mud flew, puddles drenched even through three layers of clothing; after lap five, many of us could no longer feel our hands, and ended up driving with the heels of our palms. Of course this meant spinning out around tight corners, but what sort of excitement happens when you drive a gokart slowly? Seeing through rain and splashed water was difficult and messy (many of us received a “mud tan”), but only made the rounds more interesting. Even though we turned to ice, it was well worth the time and cold to be laughing and shivering together. (Of course, a quick trip to Tim Horton’s fixed the latter of those)
Discovery Days Photo Contest results
1st: Jer Lin Poh
2nd: Shinae Hartley
Honorable Mentions: Angela Neal
The first ever Quebec 4-H Discovery Day was held on October 1, 2011. “Bees and Trees” gave participants a chance to learn more about the honey industry and challenge themselves to a rope course through the trees. A morning visit to Miellerie Lune de Miel provided an opportunity to peek into a hive, learn about the life cycle of bees, discover a honey producer’s love of his career, hear about the challenges of the industry and what’s involved in the business, as well as taste yummy samples. After lunch, participants braved the damp weather and strapped themselves into harnesses to tackle the ladders, bridges, swings and zip lines of Arbre Aventure in Eastman, Quebec.
Coming up next . . .
Discovery Days are a great way to squeeze a day of fun and learning with 4-H friends into busy schedules.
Got an idea for Discovery Day? We’d love to hear it. is being planned for Fall 2014!
If you know of any industries you’d like to learn more about or visit please send me a suggestion! Contact Chelsea, firstname.lastname@example.org
Open to members, leaders, alumni and friends aged 16 years and older.