4-H month celebrates B.C.’s future workforce

British Columbia is celebrating 4-H Month this November and youth work force contributions

British Columbia is celebrating 4-H Month this November, and the contributions the youth development program makes to agriculture and the province’s workforce.

Although 4-H is well known for teaching young British Columbians about agricultural activities, it also prepares them for futures as adult workers in any professional community – rural or urban.

The goal of the 4-H program, which is now more than 95 years old, is youth development, with a focus on knowledge, leadership, citizenship and personal development.

The personal leadership skills learned in B.C. 4-H can be applied to any job in any sector, from agri-foods and tourism, to education and health.

An educated and skilled workforce is an underlying foundation of the BC Jobs Plan announced by Premier Christy Clark in September. More than 2,200 young British Columbians between six and 21 years old participate in B.C. 4-H. As they mature and leave the program, 4-H participants will continue to help the province’s labour supply meet the demand for skilled and innovative workers in B.C.

B.C. 4-H is also a vital link between youth and agriculture that contributes to the future of farming in B.C.

Many 4-H kids are part of a larger network of farm families. Nine in 10 B.C. farms are family-owned and operated.

Earlier this year the Province provided B.C. 4-H with an $85,000 provincial grant. The funding is being used to manage the 4-H program and encourage young British Columbians to consider working in the agriculture sector.

The entire agri-food supply chain in this province generated $40.2 billion in combined gross revenues and employed 298,700 British Columbians in 2010.

Nearly 34,000 people are employed in B.C.’s primary agriculture and aquaculture activities.

Demand for B.C. food is increasing in expanding markets like China, where increased demand for B.C. wines has led to a 300 per cent rise in exports since 2008.

“B.C. 4-H is developing young people into impressive, employable British Columbians. This is something the BC Jobs Plan identifies as a priority for our province,” said Minister of Agriculture Don McRae, “The agriculture industry needs new, young workers to help us meet the increasing demand for B.C. agri-food products in expanding markets and here at home. I’m proud that B.C. 4-H kids go on to be successful adults in many different kinds of professions, including farming.”

The B.C. Jobs Plan is strengthening the economy to protect jobs for families in every region of B.C.

B.C. 4-H president Susy Chung Smith, says, “The 4-H program objectives are grounded in building life skills and job skills through a learn-to-do-by-doing approach. Our 4-H volunteer leaders and community-minded professionals teach and guide 4-H youth to successful careers in agriculture and beyond. We’re pleased to partner with the Ministry of Agriculture in building our leaders of tomorrow.”

The B.C. 4-H program has been developing young British Columbians for more than 95 years. 4-H stands for “head, heart, hands, and health”.

4-H kids learn respect for animals and people, and about the work that goes into producing food. Participants can choose between 24 diverse programs, including agroforestry, aquaculture, beef, environment and photography.

Learn More at:

• B.C.’s youth and community development programs: http://www.agf.gov.bc.ca/indcomp/youth_dev_pgm.htm

• B.C. 4-H: http://www.bc4h.bc.ca

• The BC Jobs Plan: http://www.bcjobsplan.ca