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4-H soars into centenary with sights set on future success for P.E.I. youth

Jacob Cole, aged 5, soars through the trees on a zip line as he celebrates 4-H and its centenary year.
Jacob Cole, aged 5, soars through the trees on a zip line as he celebrates 4-H and its centenary year. - Desiree Anstey

Organization that provides opportunities for youth to participate in leadership and hands-on development projects marked a milestone year

GRAND RIVER, P.E.I. - Camp Kolbe is the perfect venue for 4-H members to celebrate the organization’s 100th anniversary on Saturday afternoon, with a backdrop of 30 acres of rolling fields, private woods and views of the peaceful Grand River.

Robert Larsen, Youth Advisory Committee representative on 4-H Canada board of directors, says the community-based youth organization provides essential hands-on life and leadership skill development while promoting agriculture awareness.

“There’s lots of things that the 4-H program offers that we don’t learn inside the constraints of the school curriculum, especially our pillars on the community betterment aspect. We do a lot of community projects to give back and help seniors. These activities you don’t see inside school,” shared Larsen, who joined the 4-H club at the age of nine.

“4-H has a deep connection to agriculture too,” he continued. “It’s provides an opportunity for youth on the Island to learn about the different sectors of the agriculture industry and where its headed in the future. For myself, being a young farmer, it opened my eyes to other parts of the industry.”

Patrick Lauwerijssen, aged 13, created a moving mousetrap. “I made it by taking a piece of wood, four discs, and a mousetrap and strings attached to the tires (discs),” he said.
Patrick Lauwerijssen, aged 13, created a moving mousetrap. “I made it by taking a piece of wood, four discs, and a mousetrap and strings attached to the tires (discs),” he said.

Youth learn where food comes from, the livelihood of farmers, challenges they face, as well the rewards they reap.

“Agriculture is far more than just farming,” noted Larsen. “There’s everything from research, agriculture engineers, and all those pieces that need to bring farming into the future.”

Members of 4-H are partnered with volunteers in the community who are knowledgeable on these subjects.

The four main pillars of 4-H are "skills projects, community betterment, agriculture awareness and communication," said Larsen. And the 4-H name represents four personal development areas of focus for the organization: head, heart, hands, and health.

Larsen participated with 4-H P.E.I. in two exchange trips where he learned about building strong world communities, sustainability in agriculture, importance of protecting the environment and being an engaged citizen in today’s world.

“4-H provides many opportunities for intermediate and senior members (ages 12 to 18) to travel across the country and network with different clubs, so I travelled to Alberta and British Columbia for 10-days and stayed with a host family while learning about life in their province,” he explained.

“I’ve also taken over 25 different skills projects since joining. I do anything from woodworking to home economics such as learning how to cook. I even took knitting with my grandmother, including the ‘Great Outdoors’ project, so I’ve done quite a few.”

Summerside district (Lot 16, Evangeline, Freetown, Kensington and Albany) 4-H clubs combined achievement day with the 100th anniversary celebrations.

A number of items that had been intricately handmade by youth were laid out on display for the community to see what they had been working on all year, as well as for judges to mark. The items ranged from rocketry, woodworking, photography, cooking, crafts, and knitting.

Fun activities for youth included zip-lining, frog catching and outdoor games. Celebrations ran from 2-7 p.m.

FACT BOX:

  • This year marks the 100th anniversary of 4-H
  • There are 20 clubs across the Island, 550 members and around 300 leaders
  • 4-H offers a variety of subjects that stem from four major pillars:  community engagement and communications, science and technology, environment and healthy living, sustainable agriculture and food security
  • The 4-H motto is, “You learn to do by doing”
  • The 4-H name represents four personal development areas of focus for the organization: head, heart, hands, and health
  • 4-H is for youth ages nine to 21
  • The Clover Bud program for members six to eight.

For more information on P.E.I. 4-H visit, www.pei4h.ca.

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