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    Kim McConnell 
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    Calgary, Alberta
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    Kim McConnell is the founder and former CEO of AdFarm, a respected North American agricultural marketing communications firm.

4-H Canada Putting the Spotlight on Science

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In 1913, E. Ward Jones provided a group of youth in Roland, Manitoba a bag of seed potatoes, a dozen fertilized poultry eggs, and 300 grains of fodder corn and encouraged them to experiment with producing the best products possible. This simple action connected youth and science, and it created one of the most remarkable youth development programs in Canadian history, the 4-H movement.

4-H has been an important part of my life since I was old enough to become a member of the McConnell 4-H Beef Club. It was a primary reason I became interested in agriculture and was a major reason why I pursued a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture. The world of science, technology and opportunity then unfolded and provided me a very rewarding career.

Science and 4-H continue to be linked. While staying true to its 100+ year history of being one of the oldest and most respected positive youth development organizations in agriculture and in Canada, 4-H Canada continues to move forward with new and innovative programming for today’s youth.

One fine example of this commitment to forward progress is 4-H Canada’s new Science & Technology Leadership Development Pillar. One of four new pillars, the purpose is to help ensure cutting-edge STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) programming is accessible to Canadian youth in both rural and urban areas.

Through a partnership with Bayer CropScience, 4-H Canada will be giving Canadian youth the opportunity to explore the fascinating field of science and technology through innovative, hands-on programming. This includes the brand new 4-H Canada Science Contest that posed the following question to 4-H’ers:

“If you could invent something that would change the world of agriculture, what would it be?”

4-H’ers had the opportunity to bring their inventions to life through blueprints, models, or illustrations and submit them through 4-H Canada’s contest site. It’ll be exciting to see the innovative creations that result from this competition.

Now the opportunities get even more exciting, as 4-H’ers will also have the chance to get involved in the iconic Canada-Wide Science Fair (CWSF). 4-H Canada will be awarding scholarships to creative youth who enter the 2015 CWSF with a project that focuses on contributing to the field of agriculture. By 2016, an entire 4-H Canada Stream will be added to the CWSF.

Science demos - Photo credit: Tom Stewart and 4-H Canada

Science demos – Photo credit: Tom Stewart and 4-H Canada

And that’s just the beginning. 4-H Canada plans to go beyond contests and events and bring STEM programming into the very heart of the 4-H movement. Through a partnership with Youth Science Canada, 4-H Canada has created a high quality science curriculum based on experiential learning. 4-H Hands-on Science – Powered by Smarter Science workshops are being offered to 4-H club leaders and provincial staff across the country. These workshops will inspire leaders and staff to bring science to life for 4-H’ers of all ages through fun and interactive activities.

The new focus on science will enable 4-H’ers to again get inspired and enthusiastic about science. I encourage everyone to spread the word about the exciting initiatives coming out of 4-H Canada, and let youth know about the amazing opportunities available to them through the 4-H program!

More information on all four of 4-H Canada’s Leadership Development Pillars, as well as details on new programs, contests, events, and opportunities is available at 4-H-Canada.ca.

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