Danielle Groenendijk’s claims to fame and life experiences know no bounds.
Known for her athleticism, academics and adventures, another feather in her cap came recently from a long-time affiliation with 4-H. Groenendijk, who turns 22 on Sept. 13, was awarded the Richard Fatt Memorial 4-H Scholarship, providing $4,700 toward her schooling for the 2021-2022 year.
She received a letter, indicating “your hard work, level of commitment and involvement in 4-H was evident from your exceptional application.”
“With 4-H B.C., they have a bunch of different scholarships,” Groenendijk explained. “You put in an application and they decide which ones you’re eligible for.”
Exceptional is the best word to describe Groenendijk in everything she does. And she’s just as comfortable around the cows at the family farm on Mount Sicker Road as on the volleyball court with the Vancouver Island University Mariners women’s team.
Groenendijk got involved in 4-H at the age of nine and continued for 11 years as a member until eligibility ran out. With the Cowichan 4-H Holstein Club, “I’m planning on this year to be a leader because I’m old enough now,” she said.
“I’ve always had a pretty big passion for cows and wanting to learn more.”
For more than 100 years, 4-H Canada has been one of the most highly-respected positive youth development organizations in the country, with close to 23,500 members and more than 8,500 volunteer leaders. The goal is to help young Canadians ‘Learn To Do By Doing’ in a safe, inclusive and fun environment.
The program has provided many special opportunities for Groenendijk from caring for animals to public speaking on the communication side.
“Meeting new people was always fun, too,” she added.
Groenendijk is the last of her siblings to come through 4-H, but she’s also proud to say “I lasted the longest” compared to older brothers Cameron and Doug and older sister Megan.
Groenendijk has been a regular exhibitor at the Cowichan Exhibition and Cobble Hill Fair as well as other competitions like the Vancouver Island Holstein Show, usually one off the Island and the Western Canadian Classic as time allowed over the years.
Mom Henrietta has also served as a leader of the club for 15 years. “I never did 4-H as a kid,” she explained. “I had to learn this.”
Danielle also recently participated in an adventure bible course called LEAD that stands for Leadership, Experience, Apprenticeship and Discipleship from July 23 to Aug. 13, operated out of a Torchbearers International bible school, Champfleuri, located in the French Alps near the city of Grenoble.
“I’ve always wanted to go abroad for school, like a bible school,” said Groenendijk. “But I obviously couldn’t with volleyball, it’s throughout the year.
“I decided to attend LEAD to explore God’s creation, grow my leadership skills, be in community with fellow believers and deepen my relationship with the Lord. Throughout the whole three weeks we did not have any technology and we did not know the time or the plan. We had many opportunities to challenge and grow ourselves as leaders and we experienced many different aspects of God’s creation through hiking, rock climbing, repelling, canyoning, caving and paragliding.”
It’s been quite a year for Groenendijk that began with a highly-successful Parkinson’s disease fundraiser in honour of her grandfather, John Kampman. She ran 250 kilometres over 30 days and then finished by running a marathon just for good measure and doubled her fundraising goal in the process.
Now the focus is back to schooling and volleyball. Training for volleyball and whatever the season brings commenced Sunday, Aug. 29.
“The plan is we’ll be competing,” said Groenendijk. “It’s going to look a bit different. We’re going to play a few less games and starting a bit later.”
Anything will be better than nothing when no games were played against opposing teams last season due to COVID.
Groenendijk is going into her fifth and final year at VIU and hopes the team gets another chance to extend its run of consecutive Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association women’s volleyball titles to four.
She managed to put some downtime to good use last season by helping out with the girls’ volleyball team at Duncan Christian School where Groenendijk graduated in 2017 and hopes to continue with any volunteering there that she can.
Classes were virtual last year and she’s hopeful of some normalcy there as well while working toward a Bachelor of Science with a Major in Biology and Minor in Kinesiology.
In the back of her mind, there’s also been the thought of playing volleyball in Europe like her brother Doug did for a short time, but COVID seems to have other ideas. “We’ve got some things to figure out,” Groenendijk conceded.