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Northlands Park - Memories Worth Keeping
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4-H and other rural youth programs

Girls’ and boys’ clubs have been operating at Northlands Park for over 70 years, enjoying success from the start. By 1939, 150 boys and girls were participating in the activities offered through these clubs. 

4-H floatThat year, boys were instructed in agricultural matters such as cattle raising, and the operation and care of farm equipment. Girls were taken on a field trip to the Hudson’s Bay Company store, and toured a garment factory. Their program included instruction in sewing, crafts, and cooking.

The 4-H Club had been evolving in the United States for about 40 years at this time. The organization had slowly been spreading out since its appearance in the 1890s, incorporating other boys’ and girls’ clubs as the 4-H concepts of personal development and training were introduced to new areas. The following years saw a significant expansion of that group’s activities, with the Canadian Council of Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs officially becoming 4-H in 1953.

4-H float on paradeUpon its arrival in Alberta, the organization had adopted the same attitude toward change as Northlands Park. 4-H expanded on a 1951 move toward thematic displays, presenting such displays in conjunction with corresponding educational modules, as a means of keeping its training relevant. This was, perhaps not surprisingly, a relatively unpopular move at first, as many people appreciated how things had been done before.

Regardless, the change ultimately proved successful, and the thematic displays allowed girls and boys to join smaller groups that focused on specific aspects of agriculture. 

The long association between 4-H and Northlands Park, which continues today, may be owed in part to certain common values. One of these, as it turns out, was inclusiveness. 4-H operated clubs for Aboriginal children, inviting them to compete openly for prizes at a time when  this was unprecedented. 

Woman showing her prideThematic displays still exist today and livestock shows and competitions have remained at the forefront, occupying the same prominent place in modern 4-H activities as before. The organization also runs craft exhibits, thereby keeping in touch with its heritage. In the spirit of adaptation, 4-H has also added new crowd pleasers such as the Canine Costume Competition of 2002.

The current goals at 4-H include the cultivation of knowledge through learning opportunities, leadership skills, good citizenship, and personal development.

The long partnership between Northlands Park with its volunteer leaders, and 4-H, merely reaffirms Northlands’ commitment to community service.

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Livestock shows
 and auctions

Machinery shows
 and auctions

4-H and other rural youth programs

Homemaking

Farmfair
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New Directions

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