Thursday, October 14, 2010

Junior Farmers Clubs in Chilliwack

Agricultural Youth Training

In 1913 the first Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs were formed in Canada to actively engage youth, aged between 10 and 18 years, later raised to 21 years of age, in the development of agricultural products and rural lifestyles. Governing regulations were established by the Canadian Farmers Institute under the Department of Agriculture. By 1918 clubs were established across Canada and in British Columbia they were known as “Junior Farmers Clubs.” The first youth club, along these lines, in Chilliwack was established in 1921 as a Jersey Calf Club. However, it was not registered with the Department of Agriculture and it was not until 1929 that a registered program, a swine club, was created in Chilliwack sponsored by the local fair association.

Cattle clubs soon followed with a Jersey Calf Club formed in the same year sponsored by the Jersey Breeders Association and the following year a short lived beef club was organized. After only one year of operation the club folded but was re-established by Oliver Wells in 1955. More successful were several dairy breed clubs that featured large memberships active with Ayrshire, Guernsey, Holstein, Jersey and Red Poll breeds. Youth judging was also implemented and teams from the Fraser Valley represented British Columbia for the first time in 1931 at Toronto’s Royal Winter Fair.

In 1951 the “Canadian Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs” name was changed to 4-H and in British Columbia the name was adopted. The emblem of 4-H was a four-leaf clover with the letter “H” on each leaf and reflective of the club’s creed, “Head, Heart, Hands and Health”. Under the new banner Chilliwack organized the first junior council in British Columbia and new clubs were created, sewing, tractor, poultry, lamb, and cooking clubs. During the 1960s the age of membership was changed from 9 to 19 years and new innovations developed dress revues, judging rallies, camping and club exchanges. With their willingness to grow as an organization 4-H has become a proven organization that remains viable today bringing its enthusiasm for youth projects to many agricultural fairs that recontinue to this day.

Image: Chilliwack 4-H Club Sign