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4-H Program


The Alberta 4-H program started in Alberta around 1917 and had its beginnings as a community-based organization dedicated to the growth and development of rural youth. The program was originated for the purpose of improving agriculture, increasing and bettering production and enriching rural life. The 4-H program was enthusiastically supported by energetic and idealistic agricultural officials, dedicated schoolteachers and others who strongly supported the idea of rural children learning important skills required to succeed on and off the farm.

4-H began with the development of local boys' and girls' clubs. The girls' club programs promoted sewing, cooking, gardening, canning and Red Cross work. These programs were initially supported by the Federal government Department of Agriculture and flourished in the 1920s. As well, they were developed for rural boys and girls aged 12 to 20 and a minimum of 12 were required to form a club.

Programming later became supported by the Canadian Council on Boys and Girls Work which became later known as the Canadian Council on 4-H Clubs. By the 1930s, program support declined when the federal government withdrew financial grants and limited services of the Schools of Agriculture staff. In the 1940s, program participation increased dramatically and new girls clubs were introduced with projects in clothing, foods, how to be well-groomed, etiquette and home decoration. The development of leadership training courses also occurred. In 1966, the Alberta government's Department of Youth created new projects which increased the emphasis on personal development. In the 1970s, the 4-H movement continued to grow in Alberta

In the past, the 4-H program focused primarily on training and developing well-rounded, responsible and independent citizens of tomorrow. Members participated in technical skill development, club projects, and many other farm club activities such as camping, public speaking, travel and conferences. 

The Alberta 4-H program is currently a dynamic, client-focused organization dedicated to developing leadership, interpersonal and technical skills through a strong partnership of volunteers to become strong community leaders. The program was once open to the age level of 12 years, but was changed to 10 years in 1971 and then again to 9 years in 1995. The year 2002 marked the 85th anniversary of 4-H in Alberta. Today, its mission is to develop youth who are self-reliant, contributing individuals with marketable skills to succeed in today's society.


  • Jones, Keith L.  "4-H and Alberta : 75 years of growing together."  Alberta 4-H Council, 1992. 



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