By Stan Ashbee
Westwind Weekly News
On Feb. 22, the three partners responsible for Alberta’s premiere youth organization made a joint announcement on the future direction for 4-H in Alberta. The announcement followed an extensive engagement process that was completed with the 4-H community throughout the province.
Alberta Agriculture and Forestry Minister Devin Dreeshen joined representatives from the 4-H Council of Alberta and the 4-H Foundation of Alberta to talk about support for the development of an operating model that will take the important group forward with excellence.
Lanny Anderson, chair of the 4-H Council of Alberta, said the meeting was held to let the 4-H community know about the transition to a one board and one Chief Executive Officer (CEO) operating model.
“That is going to streamline the organization and it’s going to make it more efficient. It’s something we’ve been considering for several years within 4-H. We were able to collaboratively work together with the council, with the foundation and the Government of Alberta to come to this exciting turning point,” Anderson said.
Right now with this change, Anderson added, it’s business as usual. “Our commitment is to still operate at the grassroots level, as we normally would. All 4-H events are going to be happening, as planned. What this really means for us, as an operating body, is we no longer need three different groups to make decisions in three different ways. We can have one CEO that has staff reporting to them and that CAO reports to one board of directors. That is going to allow us to be, provincially, more efficient and better at making decisions. And we can continue to provide programming that reaches our positive youth development goals in a way members expect and members deserve.”
Anderson explained there’s 4-H Canada, which is the national body that works with the provinces – but, there’s also the provincial entities operating at a more grassroots level.
“There’s differences between the provinces in how 4-H is delivered and even some of the programming offered. Some of the overarching things regarding the brand, insurance and policies – that’s done in consultation with the provinces, but driven by 4-H Canada,” Anderson noted. “We still get to operate independently.”
If one takes a look at any organization, Anderson said, the new model is just a more efficient operating model. “You are starting to see other provinces look to achieving similar operation efficiencies. 4-H Canada operates much this way, as well – which they’ve seen huge benefits.”
Right now, Anderson said, there isn’t an entity in the province that is 4-H Alberta. “Even though we deliver 4-H Alberta programs. We’ve been operating as the Government of Alberta, there’s a section within the Agriculture and Forestry ministries with a 4-H section that works with the 4-H Council of Alberta and 4-H Foundation of Alberta and we kind of each have our own hat, but there’s a lot of cross-over in areas. We work together at a provincial level to try and deliver the program, which can be clunky when you’re having three people trying to be behind the wheel at the same time.”
Anderson said the biggest thing during 4-H’s evolution to a new operating model is when working with the grassroots clubs in the summer of 2019 with an engagement tour and task team, two questions were asked, “How can we make this better and what do you need?”
“These changes are a direct result of that feedback we received from 4-H members in their communities and clubs within the province. Based on those responses, one thing we heard loud and clear was there’s still – after 100 years of working with the Government of Alberta – there’s still a great need for the Government of Alberta to be a part of 4-H,” Anderson said.
According to Anderson, the government is still committed to 4-H. “They’re are committed to its success, so $1 million a year for 10 years plus additional in-kind support services, as we transition, is definitely something that shows the government’s commitment to the program allowing us the ability to operate in a way that makes sense.”
In the 2019/2020 club year, there are 314 clubs registered in Alberta.