FACED WITH increased travelling costs and a reduced budget, the Jamaica 4-H Clubs has been utilising Internet technology and social media network, Skype in particular, to meet a number of its obligations and get a lot of work done.
Executive director Lenworth Fulton told The Gleaner that with the cost of fuel climbing the agency was forced to cut back on travelling by its officers, which had started to impact its training and outreach programmes. However, it has since begun to explore, with some success, teleconferencing and other telecommunications, to accomplish some old things in a new way.
Fulton explains: "The last procurement we had, Mr Ronald Blake chaired the meeting from Mandeville and we sat in (at the head office in St Andrew) and participated. Fact is, we have been Skyping for our training meetings, so you find our officers no longer have to be travelling from Mandeville, Negril or other far locations to come to a meeting here."
While the success of this strategy has to some extent been limited by the quality of its equipment - computers, modems, etc., the executive director says the 4-H Clubs is in fact looking to further utilise the technology.
"We are now looking at having online training at our centres and schools with computer labs and use Skype, so we could do one training run and everybody picks it up within a locale, as much as possible.
"So we are trying to bring that on stream but we would have a problem still with the amount of equipment we have and the quality, but these are some of the measures we are going to use in other areas such as registration."
Meanwhile, Karelle McCormack, public relations and marketing manager, explained that online registration which started in December has been going well for the 73-year-old training agency.
She told The Gleaner: "What it involves is persons visiting our website www.jamaica4hclubs.com where there are forms for individual, as well as club registration. The process is simple, and when we get the submission we process them and the information is sent back to the respective parishes, so that they can also have their databases up to date."
With seven parishes already using online registration, the 4-H Clubs is looking to boost its numbers, ramp up training and get a whole lot more done, while keeping cost within budget - all at the click of a button.