The iconic four-leaf clover that has symbolized 4-H for 50 years in Canada now sports a maple leaf in the centre.
The new logo for the Canadian 4-H program unveiled this month marks a “progressive new era,” 4-H Canada executive director Shannon Benner said.
It is part of a larger effort updating the youth development program to keep up with interests of today’s youth while training them for future employment opportunities, particularly in areas of technology and science, officials say.
“Agriculture has changed dramatically since 1913, and so has 4-H,” Benner said at 4-H Canada’s annual meeting in Fredericton, N.B.
“The very pillars of the 4-H program — hands-on learning, youth leadership development, enrichment of rural communities — will now help youth meet the unique challenges and opportunities they face in our changing rural communities and in an employment sector focused on innovation and technology,” she said in a 4-H Canada release.
The release notes that more 4-H’ers now take on projects such as rocketry, chemistry, robotics, auto mechanics, and veterinary sciences. There’s been a marked shift over the years away from more traditional project areas — with the exception of livestock projects, say other 4-H officials.
“4-H has really been examining the areas that youth are showing the greatest interest in these days and science, technology, engineering and math have come through very strong,” said Jennifer Austin, marketing and communications director for 4-H Canada.
Eight per cent of all current projects held by the 25,000 4-H’ers across the country now have some kind of a science-based focus, the news release said.
That makes 4-H “well-positioned” to help prepare youth for the estimated 74,000 projected science- and technical-based jobs expected to be found in the agricultural sector between 2013 and 2022, as per findings of a recent study by Employment and Social Development Canada.
How to deliver new and unifying 4-H programming for a new century has been the subject of intense discussion at all levels across Canada for several years as the program has faced dwindling membership.
4-H began as a youth club offering children learning opportunities in farming and homemaking when it began in Roland, Manitoba in 1913.
There’s been plenty of discussion about taking the 4-H program into cities, but no specific initiative to take it there.
“Our roots are in rural Canada. We feel that there are a lot of opportunities there to engage with youth. We will build our foundation stronger first before we start adding on to it,” Austin said.
Randy Mowat, chair of 4-H Canada’s Logo Task Force and vice-chair of the 4-H Canada Foundation said adding a maple leaf to the 4-H clover logo is an example of the organization’s continued commitment to patriotism and service to the country.
“Our work was guided by the cornerstones of honouring 4-H’s core values, respecting the heritage of the organization, and evolving our logo to reflect 4-H’s proud history and legacy while also signalling our optimism about the future,” he said.
Those who get into 4-H will still ‘learn to do by doing’ and the foundational experience of being a 4-H’er is not changing, he added.
“The foundation of 4-H… public speaking and leadership, community and growing really good people and good leaders for the future… that will never change,” he said.