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JIS News

The Jamaica 4-H Clubs has, for years, played an integral part in exposing young people to agriculture and its importance to the nation.
For the most part this has been achieved through its school-based clubs. Varied club activities allow students and young adult members to participate in activities such as the 4-H parish achievement days, summer camps, the youth in agriculture programme and the 4-H Boy and Girl of the year competition.
Last year Michael Griffiths, fifth form student at Calabar High School in Kingston is the 4-H Boy of the Year. He has been a member of the 4-H Clubs since he was a student at the Ensom City Primary School.
“I became a part of the 4-H Clubs because it was a requirement of Ensom City Primary school that persons in Grade Four to Six should become apart of a club. Since the 4-H was open at the time I became a part of it,” says Michael in an interview with JIS News.
His winning project, focused on raising funds for his club through the baking and selling of cakes.
“I had a cake baking project where, I baked cake and sold it in my community. The aim of my project was to show how youths can make money from 4-H. So that is what I did,” he informs. This cake-baking project raised more than $5,000 for his club.
The student adds that he got into cake-baking by watching and helping his mother. “My primary school wanted someone to enter the cake baking and decorating competition and I found myself battling out with some young ladies to represent the school,” he discloses.
“After a few trials at school, the teacher decided to send me up and after that competition experience, I just became really hooked on the 4-H Clubs,” he adds.
Meanwhile, Training Coordinator for the Jamaica 4-H Clubs, Lloyd Robinson explained that persons who wish to enter the Girl and Boy of the Year competition must be involved in other areas of their club.
“By virtue of being involved for about three years, these persons are entitled to come forward from the particular club and eventually emerging into a parish champion and to the national (competition) where all 14 parishes compete and two individuals would have come out of that, the boy and girl of the year,” informed Mr. Robinson.
Michael says that there are several benefits in being a part of the 4-H movement as it is an organisation that is dedicated to the young people of Jamaica through focus on training, and academics.
“It provides a safe community for youngsters today. You have activities in agriculture, home economics, and leadership skills such as public speaking, essay and art competition. They also award scholarships and grants for students that do well. I do think that the movement provides a safe haven community for youths and I think we need more of that,” he says.
The young man points out that the Clubs and its various programmes has impacted greatly on his life.
“One of the big things that the club has done for me, is that it gives me the responsibility as Boy of the Year. It allows me to manage my time more as now I have a lot of activities to do and in the process I am trying to maintain a high average in school,” he explains.
After graduating from high school, Michael says he wants to become a medical doctor. However he says that he also wants to write for a scholarship from the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) to study agricultural science at the College of Agriculture, Science and Education (CASE). He also intends to study medical technology at the University of Technology (UTech) before he enters the medical field.
Most youngsters who are members of the 4-H movement often continue their involvement in the Clubs even after passing through the primary and secondary school system. Michael says he plans to do the same. “I am thinking that I kind of have to as I just feel that I owe this 4-H Club for having done so much for me,” he remarks.
He is encouraging students to join the Clubs as it will boost their confidence and provide the training they need.
“There are a lot of youths who are pursuing careers in agriculture and home economics because of the training that they got in the 4-H Clubs. Most of the students after getting their preliminary training in the 4-H they go on to the HEART Trust/NTA and make a career out of what they learn,” he notes.
Michael further expressed approval of the recent decision to lower the age limit for membership from nine to five years old. “Grabbing them (students) from that age will be very useful in securing the future for the 4-H Clubs,” he says.
In addition to his involvement in the 4-H Clubs, Michael is very involved in other activities such as badminton and the De La Vega City Uprising Club where he counsels children between the ages of nine to 15 years on issues such as HIV/AIDS, sex, and pregnancy.
Michael has already attained four subjects at the CXC level including Mathematics, English Language, English Literature, and Spanish. He currently studies eight subjects including, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Information Technology, History, Mathematics, English Language, and French.