4-H Canada and Canadian National Railway announced a new partnership at Canadian Western Agribition Nov. 25.
A $600,000 contribution from the railway now funds a new Leadership Excellence Awards of Distinction program for senior 4-H members. It also allowed 4-H to establish a farm safety fund for clubs across the country to implement their own programs.
4-H chief executive officer Shannon Benner said the money is one thing but the support for youth leadership is another.
“It’s more than financial support,” she said at Agribition. “It’s also support of engaging them and partnering them with a mentor. It’s really about developing healthy, strong, engaged, committed leaders.”
The four-year commitment from CN provides scholarships of $5,000 per year to the recipients for post-secondary studies.
She announced the first winners in four categories: Cameron Choquette of Saskatchewan for community engagement and communications; Meghan McGillivray of British Columbia for the environment and healthy living; Louise Pickard of New Brunswick in science and technology; and, Austin Pizzey of Manitoba for sustainable agriculture and food security.
Benner said academic excellence and outstanding impact in their communities are the main criteria for the awards.
CN’s executive vice-president of corporate services Sean Finn said both the leadership excellence program and farm safety fund are critical initiatives.
He said linking rail safety with farm safety is a natural fit.
“A lot of the farms across Canada have the railways through the farms,” he said.
“We believe the scholarship program will help develop the leaders of the future who will promote those qualities across our nation, while the 4-H Farm Safety Fund will allow them to implement farm and rural safety initiatives in their home communities,” he said.