As 4-H Canada and 4-H Manitoba approach their 100th anniversary milestone in 2013, the program is also looking ahead to the future of the organization.
Widely recognized as one of the best youth and young adult development models available, the 4-H program has expanded the ages of membership eligibility to provide this opportunity to a much broader demographic.
As part of 4-H Canada’s Embrace the Future vision of an expanded 4-H program, consistency across provinces is one of the main goals. In keeping with this vision, the 4-H Manitoba Council passed a motion to bring the ages of membership in line with those of other provinces.
As of Sept. 1, the age of eligibility for 4-H membership in Manitoba changed to seven to 25, while as of Sept. 1, 2013, the age of eligibility will change to six to 25.
This is one of the most significant changes to 4-H in Manitoba in a long time and affords exciting new opportunities for the two new age categories arising from this change: Cloverbud (up to and including eight years of age) and Adult (18-25 years). In addition the Junior, Intermediate and Senior categories will remain intact.
“The age changes we have adopted work to solve two issues,” council president Trevor Carlson said. “For years we have seen young kids at 4-H meetings waiting for older siblings and wanting to participate; now we are simply recognizing that they are able to do most of the same activities.
“As well, we have seen older members being forced into ‘early retirement.’ This gives them the opportunity to continue developing leadership skills right through college and university.”
In the past, the participation of underage children in 4-H activities has been a common occurrence for many clubs, as younger siblings and other interested youth looked for ways to be involved.
Leaders across the country, such as Fleurette Geirnaert of the Mariapolis-Baldur 4-H Club, helped develop project books and activities to provide a valuable experience for these “mini-members” until they were old enough to join officially.
To her, the decision to adopt these new age categories is welcome news.
“Two new age categories for 4-H is a great way to kick off the 100th year of 4-H,” Geirnaert said. “With a little imagination, creativity, and flexibility, the Adventure into 4-H project, developed for the beginning 4-H member, is very easily adapted for the new Cloverbud category.
“This great news will allow all those eager seven-year-olds to finally become official 4-H members.”
The opportunities for adult 4-H members will focus on leadership and professional development to provide them with the attributes necessary to become the next generation of skilled employees and community leaders.
For more information, contact the 4-H Manitoba Council office at 204-726-6136.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition September 6, 2012