Global 4-H Movement

Uprooting Assumptions on Food Security

This past April, our YAC member, Andrea Soesbergen was invited to attend the 2016 Thought For Food Global Summit in Zurich, Switzerland. The following is a reflection piece from Andrea on the event and how her involvement with 4-H in Canada led her to these unique opportunities.

Thought For Food (TFF) is a movement that gathers bright young minds from around the world to work together in making the world a better place and engage in discussion about shifting common assumptions in food and agriculture. They take a hard look at the food system and work out how it can be improved by uprooting these assumptions.

The TFF Global Summit was a two-day extravaganza of excitement, communication and a commitment to breaking down food security barriers. We were invited to throw away our pre-established views of the world and design the future that we want to see.  TFF challenged university students to come up with ideas for entrepreneurial projects related to the food system for a $10,000 prize to help them accomplish their goals. At the summit, we watched the pitches of ten finalist teams. The overall winner this year was Kulisha, a group producing low-cost fish feed for aquaculture made from insects.

Throughout the Summit, we listened to talks by speakers like Daan Roosegaarde, founder of Studio Roosegaarde, an art studio whose productions often have educational and world improvement objectives, Julie Borlaug of the Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture, who shares the institute’s commitment to improving conditions for smallholder farmers and Chris Lewicki, president and CEO of Planetary Resources, a company exploring space to see what resources can be used to make life better here on earth.

We also took part in interactive workshops on various topics like hacking biology, open-source data and sustainable business. This combination of activities made for an incredibly enriching and unforgettable experience.

Although the invitation to attend this conference was not directly through 4-H, it was the result of my involvement with 4-H programming that set me on this path. Being in 4-H has always encouraged me to step outside of my comfort zone and to not be afraid to apply myself to something I am passionate about and watch what unfolds as a result of the hard work put in.

Involvement in 4-H has shown me the importance of not accepting the world as it is, but working to make the world better through volunteering and helping others. As a result, I have found myself attending conferences around the globe this past year, sharing ideas on agriculture and the food system, growing and realizing my own potential.

These experiences have shown me that I have a voice and knowledge to share and the power to make great change in the world around me by starting with small actions in my own community.

Thank you 4-H, for setting me on this journey of personal growth and taking me, quite literally, to the top of the world and back.

Generation Z: Harnessing the Power to Change the World

By Shannon Benner, CEO, 4-H Canada

The 4-H story in Canada began over a century ago, and the organization has grown into one of the country’s most respected youth movements - bridging generations and building deep community roots in the agricultural sector. From Canada’s east coast to its west coast, we are uniquely positioned in the agricultural community, through our well established programs and grassroots networks. We are fortunate to have many partners that support our work.

The secret of why this grassroots movement has been so successful in engaging youth is that it didn’t start as an organization or policy, it started as a fundamental belief that young people needed support to succeed both on, and off the farm. It was a belief that recognized the equal importance of building character, responsibility, confidence and empathy in addition to skill mastery.

The result of this philosophy, which can be traced to Ohio in the United States, is now a global 4-H movement of nearly 7 million young people in more than 60 countries. These are caring, responsible and contributing young people who effect change in the world around them.

We believe that 4-H youth from around the world are uniquely positioned to play an important leadership role in alleviating world hunger because of the work they already do in sustainable agriculture and food security. That is why, in the fall of 2014, over 70 4-H nations congregated in Seoul, Korea to participate in the first Global 4-H Network Summit.

The summit focused on evolving 4-H’s world class positive youth development approach, looking at drivers of growth in agriculture, addressing global issues through the youth lens and showcasing 4-H programming from around the world. One of the major outcomes of the summit included the formation of the Global 4-H Board, which I have the privilege of chairing.  The Summit also saw as an outcome a commitment by leaders to see global 4-H membership grow to 25 million by 2025.

Recently, this diverse group of 4-H board members came together at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto for an in-person Global 4-H Board meeting. They used this opportunity to discuss ways to equip and empower young people to meet urgent local, national, and global issues, including sustainable agriculture and food security.

The global 4-H community also formally asked 4-H Canada to be the host of the next Global Summit in July of 2017. 4-H Canada’s Board of Directors had passed a motion the day before to approve this request. 4-H Leaders and members from around the world will join us in Ottawa for a celebration of Positive Youth Development.

Convening the international 4-H community at events like the global board meeting and the highly anticipated 4-H Global Summit is invaluable to strengthening the 4-H movement and empowering youth. 

Our current and future youth members, who belong to generation Z, have the potential to create innovative and world-changing solutions to the biggest challenges we face in as a planet. We need to tap into this potential, particularly as we have the advantage of being a global youth organization. The skills that our youth are developing today are essential to solving the world’s problems. 4-H can and must support youth in this journey.

4-H Around the World Image

4-H Around the World

  • 4-H is one of the largest youth organizations in the world.
  • Independent 4-H programs can be found in all corners of the globe—from North and South America to Africa to Asia.
  • There are over 70 independent, country-led 4-H programs around the world.
  • Worldwide, there are nearly 7 million 4-H’ers. 



Paul Larmer welcomes 4-H Global Board Summit Delegates

Paul Larmer, Chief Executive Officer at Semex Alliance and President and Chairman of the Board for the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. For more photos from the 4-H Global Board meeting visit our flickr page.

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