Kimberly Sekura-Zagar grew up on a farm, and like so many other rural Albertans, was involved in her local 4-H club, later serving as an assistant leader. When she started working for Northlands three years ago, one of her goals was to start a club here in Edmonton.
“It’s something I’m passionate about. We started last fall, and we’ve had one successful year under our belt, and we’re doing it again,” she said.
4-H stands for head, heart, health, and hands. Their pledge reads:
“My head to clearer thinking,
My heart to greater loyalty,
My hands to larger service,
And my health to better living,
For my club, my community, and my country.”
4-H originated in 1917 as an agricultural club, and since then the program has expanded to over 80 different projects for youth aged 9 to 20 years as of Dec. 31.
“They’re not learning the actual act of farming, but because they’ll have opportunities to meet other 4-H kids they’ll be able to learn by osmosis,” said Sekura-Zagar. “And because 4-H is run by the Department of Agriculture in the province, you’ll have an agricultural focus even if it’s not directly related to their project. Our kids last year went to Farm Fair.”
The Edmonton club meets at the Alberta Avenue Community Hall as well as other locations, depending on the projects.
“4-H instils future leadership skills, business skills, communication skills,” said Sekura-Zagar. “They form their own executive—a president, treasurer, and so on—they manage their own books to keep track of costs, they learn about making motions and voting and agendas and minutes. They have to do a community service activity so they learn about that. And public speaking is a huge part of it; kids have to do a speech or presentation every year.”
Younger kids can also join. “We also have a peewee program for [children] six to eight years old. It’s called Cleaver Kids, named after Cleaver the Beaver, the 4-H mascot. They don’t have as many obligations, like attending business meetings. But it gives them a chance to tag along and learn, and by the time they’re nine, they know what it’s about.”
The activities are meant to instil confidence through organizing and carrying through with different projects.
“Last year we did a project called Exploring 4-H, and it gave the kids a mini project each month throughout the year to give them a taste of what we can do. This year, we have so many returning members, they wanted to do a different project all year instead of little ones. They have the option of doing archery, foods, photography, and possibly rabbits. They can do more than one project if they like, but they have those options.”
At the end of the year, they hold an event called Achievement Day, and that’s where they showcase their skills and show what they’ve learned and achieved that year. The season has already started, but new participants can sign up by the beginning of November, or wait until next year. The benefits can be long-term and life-changing.
“The opportunities that 4-H offer—they have summer exchanges, scholarships, that sort of thing. Every year in university, I got a 4-H scholarship and I was able to travel to the national 4-H convention in Toronto.”
Sekura-Zagar speaks with pride about last year’s 4-H members.
“I saw these kids over the year, how much more confident they were—they all jump up at the meetings and know how to make a motion now, and they are more comfortable with public speaking. They just grew so much.”
You can find info at northlands.com/agriculture/youth-clubs/northlands-4-h-club/ or contact Kimberly Sekura-Zagar at 780.720.7806.
Featured Image: Northlands’ 4-H Club sometimes meets at Alberta Avenue Community League. | Supplied