4H marks 100 years in B.C.

The 100th anniversary of 4-H in B.C. is being marked with a contribution of $87,000 from the provincial Ministry of Agriculture towards programming that encourages balanced development of the head, heart, hands and health – the famous four Hs.

“There is a lot of celebration going on throughout, and they’re encouraging different 4-H clubs to work together and put on a big splash and make the public aware that 4-H has been around for that long,” said South Peace 4-H leader Trish Homis.

North Peace 4-H leader Jessie Clarke was quick to add that across Canada, the nationwide 100th anniversary was actually celebrated last year.

“I came from Saskatchewan and I was in 4-H, and I’m 80,” said Clarke. “We called it Beef Club and other things like that in Saskatchewan when I was involved – they hadn’t gotten the 4-H title yet.”

At the time, she said it was run by an extension of the University of Saskatchewan, but there was heavy involvement, particularly among the rural community.

“4-H people were doing better with their cattle,” she said. “They taught ranchers better conformation for their animals. My dad was in the register business so he knew what animals should look like, but ranchers, it was whatever you had.

“I think it improved the herd of cattle through 4-H – that’s the way I’ve always felt about it. We sort of started that improvement growing.”

Homis is also a longtime 4-H leader. She said that despite both her sons now being in their 20s, she continues on.

“It does a lot for children – we don’t just emphasize any one given area, we develop the whole child. When you’re in 4-H, you’re responsible for a 4-H project, whether an animal, communication, verbal, written,” said Homis.

“We teach them overall, they learn how to judge and evaluate specific things, how to look and compare and assess and you keep them growing through this process. They learn to be responsible for things, because they have a project they have to develop from square one.”

Programming with 4-H has developed significantly over the years, with the first-ever 4-H project based on potato growing coinciding with the need for food during the First World War, said Homis. It has also expanded to encompass the interests of children living in urban areas, as well as rural.

“It used to be, when I started, if you didn’t have an animal you didn’t get into it. Now [projects] have expanded to those living in the city. It can be clothing, a dog, potted plants for people living in apartments,” said Homis. “There is so much out there and they get to spend time with friends, and learn to do by doing.”

Clarke said the money for the centennial is much needed, as ongoing funding has decreased over the years, leaving a great deal of the burden of fundraising on local chapters.

“When I first started being a leader here, we had one person that worked in the Ag office just for 4-H, doing all of the planning for events and communications and all of that,” said Clarke. “Now, leaders and volunteers have to do all of that.”

Local fundraisers have included the sale of 50/50 tickets at Fall Fair and bottle drives. Clarke said the Peace River Regional District also kicks in support.

Clarke said they “sure need every bit of it."  

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