4-H is an international youth and volunteer organization for ages 6 to 25. They have over 100 clubs with different focuses throughout the province that help youth and young adults build self-confidence, communication, and leadership skills.
Connie Dueck, a Head Leader of the Barkfield Explorers Club, says public speaking is a big part of 4-H.
“The six year olds are already public speaking, so it's pretty incredible to see. Often in their first year they're just so shy, but even by the second year you just see such improvements, and it's quite incredible to watch.”
The program requires them to research a topic and explain what they have learned.
“Younger ages often talk about their dog or their favorite holiday and things like that. As you get older, you definitely see the improvement in the topics of speeches, maybe they talk about global warming, or something that may be a bit more controversial, or different views on an idea.”
She says the program isn’t just about presentations, they also have a lot of fun.
“We'll do activities together as a group, the projects are generally fun. It's something that they're interested in.”
Her kids have been a part of 4-H for about 12 years, and she says teachers say they can always tell which kids are in 4-H.
“Because when they have to do presentations in school, they do it quite comfortably, whereas the other students have never had the experience, so it's a bit more challenging for them.”
Dueck adds that being in the program is a great resume builder, especially in agriculture, as a lot of people know about 4-H.
“They know that if a person has come through the 4-H program, they come with all of these skills. If they see that on a resume, they kind of get bumped up because you know how to public speak, how to participate in meetings, and how to learn because you've done this project.”
Young adults in the program also have the opportunity to get scholarships and travel.
“We have a 4-H member, she's applying to go to Ireland with 4-H Manitoba. We had two families this summer have Japanese exchange students, and in coming years they'll have the opportunity to go to Japan and experience that.”
You don’t need to have any specific skills to sign up for 4-H.
“You just show up as you are. The model for 4-H is ‘learn to do by doing.’ They will kind of tap into ‘what are you interested in? Let's learn about that.’”
Even as a leader you don't have to be an expert, you just have to have an interest, and an interest in helping youth.
To register for a 4-H club or find out more, visit 4h.mb.ca.
“There are over 130 clubs in Manitoba, so there are lots of options. There are even virtual clubs.”
With files from Carly Koop
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