Enrolment in 4-H is holding steady in Canada despite geographical challenges, and the organization is offering a wide range of programs beyond the traditional.
“I think much like agriculture, 4-H has evolved — who would have thought that technology would play such a big part in agriculture, and who would have thought 4-H had drone clubs today,” says Shannon Benner, CEO of 4-H Canada.
The organization offers kids the opportunity to explore and improve skills in communications and leadership; helps them identify their passions and make a difference in the community; and, offers career skills and scholarships beyond what’s available in school.
According to Benner, it’s all about helping kids not just survive, but thrive.
“There’s really no reason why we shouldn’t have every young person thriving, and so the program is really about helping young people succeed, and be leaders, and having success after high school, and having post-secondary achievement…”
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4-H projects fall within four leadership pillars: communication and community engagement; science and technology; environment and healthy living; and sustainable ag and food security. And today, there are more than 1,100 different projects across the country.
“So tonnes of choices for kids to choose what they’re passionate about, and what they’re engaged in,” says Benner.
Of the current students enrolled in 4-H in the country, Benner says roughly 50 to 60 per cent are from rural communities, 30 per cent are suburban, and 10 per cent are urban.
“We need to be connecting and reaching with kids in rural communities, and that’s really our focus,” says Benner. “And so we’re quite thrilled that our enrolment is holding steady, because in many rural communities, the youth population is declining.”