JIS News

The Jamaica 4-H movement is recognized as the largest youth development organization in the island, and could possibly lay claim to that title across the Caribbean.
With approximately 650 registered clubs and a total of about 70,000 clubbites and 4,000 volunteer leaders, the 4-H clubs have structured programmes which place emphasis on agricultural training, home economics development, leadership training, social skills, healthy lifestyles and environmental management.
Programmes to facilitate youth, aged 5-25 years, are known to have impacted the lives of many influential persons and leaders, many of whom have even taken their expertise abroad. Leadership training starts at the club level where, apart from the social skills, clubbites also learn how to manage club business through structured posts in the clubs.
There are also the intra and inter club, parish and national competitions, through which friendly rivalry is encouraged for the clubbites to show off what they have learnt from the movement. The crowning achievement for an individual at the parish level, however, is to be crowned Mr. or Miss 4-H, which leads to competing for the national title, on an annual basis.
Fourteen-year-old Grade 8 student of Cornwall College, Doniel Bowen, was recently crowned Mr. St. James 4-H 2010/2011, an achievement, he says, he will always remember.
Doniel, a member of the Cornwall College 4-H club for only a single semester, walked away with the coveted title, topping four other male finalists at the finals at the St. James 4-H Advisory Council’s premier fundraising event, Nyammins and Jammins.
Doniel says he was encouraged to join the 4-H movement at his school by 2009/2010 Mr. St. James 4-H, Tahir Thompson, a fellow student whom he greatly respects.
In an interview with JIS News, he stated that he has benefited a great deal since joining the movement. Asked if he would recommend the movement to friends, Doniel replied;
“Of course look how I have benefitted from it. Showing them the benefits that 4-H has afforded me, will impress them and they will also want to join the movement.”
He said that, since joining the movement, he has made a lot of new friends, adding that he plans to stay in the Movement for a long time.
One of the volunteer leaders of the Cornwall College 4-H club, Kaye Salmon, informed JIS News that Doniel is a fairly quiet and focused individual who, in his short stint with the club, has shown signs of becoming a responsible individual.
“It also will help him to develop good interpersonal and leadership skills,” she added.
She noted that the 4-H movement has been active at Cornwall College for some seven-eight years now, always receiving very good response from the boys. She expressed the view that the competition between clubs is a good motivating factor for the boys, pointing out that Cornwall College has an active membership of about 30 students.
She said that the club is already going through training sessions in several disciplines, in preparation for the St. James 4-H parish achievement day, early in 2011.
She also stated that the basic skills the boys have acquired will be of value to them later on in their domestic lives, since they learn to cook and bake, and even plant things.
“With what is happening now in our economy, where we are encouraged to produce and persons are being encouraged to be entrepreneurs, I think that this club is really effective in steering these boys in that direction,” she said.