4-H overhauled in Alberta as new funding committed

Alberta’s 4-H organizations are set to go under a major overhaul, moving toward a model that members say will ensure its viability.

The change means 4-H in Alberta will be managed by one organization with one common chief executive officer, as well as with a board of directors and a board of trustees. The new name will be 4-H Alberta.

Three organizations (the 4-H Council, 4-H Foundation and Alberta Agriculture) previously collaborated with one another to deliver 4-H programming in the province.

“It’s absolutely a good move,” said 4-H Council president Lanny Anderson.

“We need to be able to operate in a way that makes us accountable to members we serve, achieve goals in areas of positive youth development and be efficient in ways where we are responsible with financial resources, assets and people,” he said.

The change comes as the province re-aligns funding for 4-H.

The government announced Feb. 22 it would be spending $1 million annually for 10 years to help fund 4-H.

The province will also be providing in-kind help during the transition phase. It will offer office space for up to 14 staff, and printing and courier services.

“This predictable, long-term funding is essential for 4-H to plan for the future and build on their rich history in our province,” Agriculture Minister Devin Dreeshen said in a news release.

“In this world, where so few people know where their food comes from, 4-H members play a vital role in helping to bridge that gap.”

The government didn’t specify what the funding levels were before the change was made, saying only that the new funding is “traditional for 4-H.”

The decision to amalgamate the organizations comes after months of consultation, in which more than 400 people participated.

Anderson said 4-H worked with Kim McConnell and Dianne Finstad through the engagement process, eventually coming up with the new structure. It will be similar to how 4-H Canada operates.

“It was important that we modernize but also provide ways for 4-H supporters to sustain the program into the future and provide for our facilities at the 4-H Centre,” said 4-H Foundation chair Glenn Logan.

“This commitment from the government, combined with the on-going support of sponsors and volunteers, will provide the stability 4-H needs to grow and thrive.”

Anderson said business will remain as usual with no changes to current programming.

He encouraged members, volunteers and leaders to reach out if they have questions.

“We don’t anticipate interruptions for our members,” he said.

As for staff members with the 4-H Foundation and 4-H Council, they may or may not continue working with the new 4-H Alberta organization.

Anderson said staff members have the opportunity to continue with the new entity if they choose to do so, though he added some employees might not.

“The important thing is we are doing this in a collaborative way and this is a win for 4-H,” he said.

“We are doing it with the right people, at the right time and for the right reasons.”

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