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    Story Highlights

    • This year is very significant for the Jamaica 4-H Clubs, as the Movement is celebrating its 75th anniversary, under the theme: ‘4-H – Celebrating the Past, Embracing the Future’.
    • To mark the notable milestone, the organisation has planned some major activities, including the commencement of one of its legacy projects later this year - the $160 million Rural Youth Economic Empowerment Programme (RYEEP).
    • The Ministry of Youth and Culture has committed $45 million in funding support, which will be allocated in $15 million tranches for each of the three years.

    This year is very significant for the Jamaica 4-H Clubs, as the Movement is celebrating its 75th anniversary, under the theme: ‘4-H – Celebrating the Past, Embracing the Future’.

    To mark the notable milestone, the organisation has planned some major activities, including the commencement of one of its legacy projects later this year – the $160 million Rural Youth Economic Empowerment Programme (RYEEP) – which will target some 3,000 young people islandwide for training in agriculture over the next three years.

    The Ministry of Youth and Culture has committed $45 million in funding support, which will be allocated in $15 million tranches for each of the three years.

    Another key event is the National Achievement Day Exposition, from April 22 to 24, which will showcase the creativity of clubbites, as well as volunteers.

    The three-day exposition will be the culmination of 14 parish achievement days held earlier in the year.

    Other scheduled activities  include: a national church service slated for May 7 at Webster Memorial United Church, Half-Way Tree Road, St. Andrew; a special parish competition, named in honour of Health Minister, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, who was instrumental in the 4-H Clubs’ transfer from the Ministry of Education to the Ministry of Agriculture; the Youth in Agriculture Hub, at the Denbigh Agricultural and Industrial Show, slated for July 31 to August 2, in May Pen, Clarendon; and a special awards banquet in November.

    Wife of the Governor-General, Her Excellency the Most Hon. Lady Allen, is Patron for the Diamond Jubilee.

    Speaking at the Diamond Jubilee’s recent launch at the Jamaica 4-H Clubs headquarters on Old Hope Road, St. Andrew, Board Chairman, Senator Norman Grant, said based on its achievements since its inception on April 1, 1940, “there is much that the organization has to be proud.”

    He noted that the Movement represents “an important chapter” in the history of both the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS), of which he is also President, as well as the overall agricultural sector.

    Recounting the organization’s history, Senator Grant noted the 4-H clubs’ formation evolved out a need by the JAS, during the 1920s, to train and educate farmers in the use of the new and improved cultivation methodologies of that era.

    However, he said the JAS had to shift its focus to young people, after encountering resistance from older established farmers. This resulted in the association’s formation of branches, initially in St. Catherine and Clarendon, then  in other parishes.

    Senator Grant said the branches eventually merged, via “mutual agreement,” with the Pioneer Clubs, established under the Jamaica Welfare Commission, initiated by National Hero, the Rt. Excellent Norman Washington Manley, to form the Jamaica 4-H Clubs.

    The merger was deemed a natural fit then, as the Pioneer Clubs focused on developing special programmes for rural youth.

    Senator Grant pointed out that the new organization started with 300 members, aged 10 to 21, in 1940, and grew over the years to 35,000 during the 1970s. He said the membership “peaked” at 43,000 in the 1980s, before declining to approximately 18,000 in the mid-1990s.

    He said membership started growing again in the year 2000, “and today, we are celebrating the growth of the 4-H movement, standing at over 87,000 members at the end of 2014…to be the largest youth organization in Jamaica and the Caribbean.”

    Noting that the 4-H global network currently has 7.2 million members, Senator Grant said the international body, of which he is a Vice President, regards Jamaica’s membership as “very close to being the largest, per capita, across the globe.”

    Pointing out that the global membership is projected to grow to approximately 20 million by 2025, he said “we aim to raise (our) number to185,000” by then.

    Senator Grant said the Jamaica 4-H Clubs provided approximately 172,756 training opportunities for members at the end February 2015, representing a 40 per cent increase over the corresponding period last year, when 123,603 were created.

    Additionally, he advised that since 2011, the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries has invested some $1 billion in youth development, through the 4-H Clubs.

    He thanked Portfolio Minister, Hon. Derrick Kellier, “for providing us with $204 million in this year’s budget, which is $4 million more than last year’s allocation.”

    “We have also raised funds through donor agencies, some of which have partnered (with us to stage this year’s) national achievement day and a number of other events. We have (also) been able to raise an additional $75 million to drive the 4-H Clubs’ work,” the Chairman stated.

    For her part, Lady Allen, who attended the launch, said she is a product of the 4-H clubs, adding that “who I am today is as a result of my parents, and the Jamaica 4-H clubs.”

    Lady Allen pointed out that she learnt several skills while being a member of the organization during her formative years in Islington, St. Mary. These, she outlined, included crocheting, embroidery, dressmaking, home economics and farming.

    She said her decision to serve as Patron is consistent with the fundamentals of volunteerism, which she also learnt from the 4-H Clubs, pointing out that “I was taught to give back.”

    Commending the organization on its milestone, Youth and Culture Minister, Hon. Lisa Hanna, said the organization represents opportunities for “building a generation that believes that they can compete, not only  to advance the country’s economic growth, but in their own personal stability, by making sure they have a skill.”

    Agriculture, Labour and Social Security Minister, Hon. Derrick Kellier, also commended the 4-H Clubs.

    “This is a milestone in your history and one which you should be extremely proud of. As a former clubbite, I share in the pride you must feel,” the Minister said.

    Mr. Kellier said that since its inception, the 4-H Movement has been transformed into “what can be easily described as the leading youth training organization in Jamaica…and I, daresay, in the Caribbean.”

    “The Jamaica 4-H Club continue to provide opportunities for youngsters wishing to make a meaningful contribution to national development. With a membership of over 85,000…I am eagerly anticipating the achievement of that 100,000 membership mark,” the Minister added.

    The Jamaica 4-H Club is a youth training organization, falling under the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, which is mandated to provide skills training for young people between five and 25 years of age.

    Areas of training include: agriculture, home economics, leadership, social skills, entrepreneurship, healthy lifestyles, and environmental awareness.

    Organizations globally are easily recognized by the four-leaf clover logo, with each leaf representing – Hands, Head, Health and Heart.