(Click on video or read the speech below)
Am I qualified? Do I have the experience? What do I have that puts me above all others.?
Like any true 4-H member, I’m always eager to spread the good word of 4-H. 4-H is young people and adults learning projects and life skills, cooperating, having fun together, sharing leadership and learning to do by doing.
Alberta 4-H has over 33 projects available, ranging from small animals to life skills and photography to veterinary science. Over 180,000 people, approximately 7 percent of our provinces population, have gone through the Alberta 4-H program since it began in 1917. Alberta 4-H is the largest program in Canada with over 8,100 members and 2,600 volunteers in 442 clubs across Alberta.
Studies have shown that 4-H alumni have a higher labour force participation rate, a lower unemployment rate, a higher rate of school attendance, a higher rate of some university education and higher incomes. The impact and value of the 4-H program has a proven track record for developing leadership skills, increasing civic-mindedness, self-confidence and teamwork.
Alumni see tremendous value in the program. In a recent alumni survey seventy-five percent felt their experience, as a 4-H member, was beneficial to personal and career experiences later in life. They identified decision-making skills, public speaking, community involvement and employment skills learned skills from 4-H clubs and activities. 4-H helps citizens become involved. Nearly 80 percent of alumni are members of organizations such as church groups, volunteer groups and sports teams. For 57 percent of alumni, the program has a critical or high influence on their acceptance of leadership responsibilities and forty-one percent are currently officers of organizations. It makes a difference economically. Overall, 31% of 4-H alumni have a Bachelor’s degree or higher versus 16% of the Canadian population, 43% of 4-H alumni had household incomes of $50,000 to $99,000 versus 36% of the Canadian population and 16% of 4-H alumni had household incomes of $100,000 or more versus 9% of the Canadian population.
When thinking of my 4-H speech this year, what I really wanted to communicate was How 4-H can put you ahead of the rest. I LOVE 4-H. Now why do I love 4-H? I wanted to put a finger on what this activity means to me.
Think with me now, what would 4-H be without packing into these seats and reciting a speech each year, gaining confidence? What would it be to sleep in on a Saturday morning instead of being responsible and getting up to feed your 4-H calves? What would it be without the meetings, learning accountability? And then I thought of the real reason a student joins an amazing activity like this one – Achievement day.
But what really is 4-H? So it was back to deep thought for me. Is it the sum total of knowledge that you and I might have gained in lectures, demonstrations, and discussions? Is it that we are now more qualified for x, y, or z job?
Obviously this isn’t what 4-H is and no it’s not about the clubs we’re in or the speeches we’ve written or the meetings we’ve sat through. It’s not the leaders, the facilities, or the volunteers. 4-H is us, the members. It’s in the diversity of names, faces, stories, and experiences to which we decorate this great province. It’s in the time we spent in self assessment, self improvement, and thought. It’s the questions that we’ve asked and those that we’ve answered. It’s the responsibility and care we’ve shown, the people we’ve helped, and the passion that we have that defines us. Moreover it’s the fact we will eventually go out into the world that absolutely needs us!
It needs to hear our stories spoken loudly, to consider our opinions, and to engage us in discussion. It needs us to ask and answer questions. TO care . . . TO love . . . and TO help those less fortunate but most of all it needs us to spread the 4-H that has come to define us. It’s that we have the nerve to believe that we can change this world and that each of us will.
That my fellow member is what 4-H really is and I’m humble to have been a part of it with you. 4-H is a process of transformation and I realized the reason I love 4-H is because the person who is heading off to university this year is better than the one who came nine years ago and I know that extends to my fellow members as well.