Sun | Dec 4, 2016

4-H Clubs key to volunteerism

Published:Monday | April 13, 2015 | 12:00 AMKeisha Hill

The 4-H Clubs in Jamaica continue to be hailed as an organisation that continues to provide opportunities for youngsters to make a meaningful contribution to national development.

With more than 87,000 members, the entity is a force to be reckoned with as it is considered the leading youth organisation in the island.

According to Ronald Blake, executive director of the 4-H movement in Jamaica, after 75 years of existence in the island, they continue to be driven based on the statistics that indicate the high number of youth that are involved in crime and violence and the high level of youth unemployment.

Working with a mandate to mobilise, educate, and train youth in leadership skills and vocations, Blake said the 4-H Clubs would be partnering with the National Youth Service, the Development Bank of Jamaica, and the Ministry of Agriculture on a drive to empower more than 3,000 youngsters to become entrepreneurs.

"The first batch of 50 participants just recently completed the course, and from this cohort, we will see the readiness and aptitude of the participants, and we will assist them with an input to start their business. Our target group is youth between 17-25 years old, which is the critical cohort in Jamaica," Blake said during a Gleaner Editors' Forum held last week at the newspaper's North Street, Kingston, offices.

a negative perception

Blake said there was a negative perception regarding the farming sector in Jamaica, however, one of the key programmes such as Youth in Agriculture and the National School Garden Programme provided opportunities for young people to showcase innovation as well as learn how to create gardens to assist with national food security.

The 4-H Clubs' main training areas include agriculture, home economics, leadership, social skills, entrepreneurship, healthy lifestyles, and environmental awareness.

Trainees are encouraged to develop sustainable livelihoods and become positive contributors to national development.

"We are putting more energy into community clubs and developing strategies to push science and technology that embeds agriculture. The new farmer is going to grow on the strength of his or her uptake on science and technology. We will also continue to work on our legacy programmes that already exist and improve on their relevance to go forward," Blake said.

Islandwide activities are planned to commemorate the Jamaica 4-H Clubs' Diamond Jubilee celebrations, being held under the theme '4-H: Celebrating the Past; Enhancing the Future'.

Lady Allen, the wife of Governor General Sir Patrick Allen, is the patron of the anniversary celebrations.

keisha.hill@gleanerjm.com