The Global 4-H Youth Ag Summit took place in August 2013 in Calgary, Alberta.
As part of 4-H Canada’s 100th anniversary, over 120 youth gathered from 20 countries to discuss how their generation can overcome the challenges of feeding a world population of over 9-billion people. Kim McConnell, Chair of the Canadian 4-H Foundation, participated in the event as an adviser. Here are his observations.
I have had the great fortune of participating in many conferences throughout my career but my week this summer with the 118 youth, ages 18-25, from 22 countries who attended the Global 4-H Youth Ag Summit is near the top of my list.
To witness these very intelligent, articulate young men and women, who see the opportunities, are willing to address the challenges, and who understand how to take advantage of both was humbling and inspiring. I loved how engaged they were with the speakers, tours and in the workshops but also how they used technology to quickly confirm facts and offer an alternative opinion. Also, their presentation skills were exceptional.
Seeing how such an exciting variety of perspectives and experiences came together to discuss and debate these major issues, I think, speaks to the important role that 4-H plays in the development of future leaders. The ability to articulate points in small and large groups and the discipline to handle and complete large projects are the skills that are needed for success – and it was clear that the 4-H program has played a great training role in the development of these young professionals.
One particular topic that I found intriguing was the general enthusiasm, passion, commitment and concern related to sustainability. This generation of leaders views sustainability on a larger and more holistic level – economic, environmental and social sustainability – which are taken very seriously. In my parents’ generation, or even in my generation, I believe greater emphasis was placed on economic sustainability and profitability. But sustainability with this group of leaders was looked at from a bigger and broader perspective and this, to me, was very encouraging.
The summit featured some exceptional speakers who challenged the youth to show leadership within the agricultural industry as well as their home countries and communities. I was delighted to see the youth step forward and live the 4-H motto of “Learn to do by doing” and form a board of directors to ensure summits like these continue.
I am so proud that Canada – Calgary – was given the opportunity to host this first ever Global 4-H Youth Ag Summit. I commend the organizers, and specifically 4-H Canada, Bayer CropScience and the other sponsors – for the foresight to host this great summit. And I think the delegates and mentors were impressed with the very progressive agri-food industry that Canada has to offer.
Based on the passion, intelligence and commitment to excellence displayed by the youth at the Global 4-H Youth Ag Summit, the future of agriculture is in good hands.