Challenging Pioneers is a multi-project 4-H club with a strong focus on agriculture and experiential learning. We have a long history of community engagement and volunteer opportunities. Challenging Pioneers is committed to delivering a quality program in a safe and inclusive environment.
As a 4-H'er, you'll experience the feeling of accomplishment that comes from trying and succeeding at something new – whether it's fixing a small engine, knitting a sweater, training an animal or presenting a speech or demonstration to a live audience.
The opportunities are endless, including various provincial and regional programs allowing members to visit new places, expand their knowledge, and make new friends! Senior 4-H members can apply for scholarships and earn a personal development credit for Grade 10. Various camps, conferences and exchanges are also available for 4-H Members.
4-H stands for head, heart, hands and health. The 4-H Pledge describes the significance of the four H's:
My HEAD to clearer thinking,
My HEART to greater loyalty,
My HANDS to larger service,
My HEALTH to better living,
For my Club, my Community,
my Country, and my World.
Each Club has a variety of executive positions. They help guide meetings to ensure everything runs smoothly. All 4-H club members vote to elect their peers for these positions. These executive roles also provide opportunities for members to gain leadership experience.
The development of the 4-H program in Newfoundland began in 1937 with Junior Garden Clubs, which was organized by the Department of Agriculture. In 1945, these became known as Rural Youth Clubs when the Divisions of Agriculture and Adult Education co-operated to help meet the growing need for a youth program. However, the emphasis shifted to the importance of and need for local leadership. Although the name 4-H was adopted by some groups, it was not until late 1951 that 4-H clubs were officially organized as such under the joint sponsorship of the participation. In 1959, the Division of Adult Education was divided, with the 4-H program being the responsibility of the Division of Community Leadership Development, Department of Education.
The Division of Community Leadership Development, responsible for the implementation of the 4-H program, remained in the Department of Education until 1969 when it was transferred to the Department of Community and Social Development. This transfer was short lived. In 1970, the divisional title of Community Leadership Development and the 4-H program was transferred to the Department of Education and absorbed into the Division of Physical Education and Youth. The 4-H program remained there until the restructuring of government took place in the fall of 1972. At that time, the Department of Rehabilitation and Recreation was created and the 4-H program was again transferred, this time to a new Department and 4-H was integrated into the Youth Services Division. 4-H has remained within the Youth Services Division and was transferred to the Department of Tourism, Recreation and Culture April 1, 1979. However, in July, 1980, some government departments were restructured and the Department of Culture, Recreation and Youth was created which included the Youth Services Division. In May, 1989, Youth Services Division was transferred to the Department of Municipal and Provincial Affairs. It remained there for two years.
During the early changes and transfers, the 4-H Provincial Council was organized on January 26, 1974. It is comprised of adult volunteer 4-H leaders who represent 4-H District Councils, who in turn represent the local 4-H clubs. During the first two years of its organization, the 4-H Provincial Council served as an advisory body for the 4-H program. Today it operates in conjunction with the Department of Natural Resources to ensure that the 4-H program continues to grow and develop
according to extension education principles.
It Started with a Single Seed
4-H started in the United States in 1901 with a single seed, well technically a bag of seeds but a single seed has that wow factor we’re going for. President Orwell of the Farmer’s Institute of Macoupin County, Missouri offered local boys a bag of corn seed to grow and show at the St. Louis Fair in the hope of establishing a youth component in the agriculture sector. Over 500 boys requested seed in this season making Orwell’s concept a roaring success. School authorities, parents, and the agriculture industry revered this simple idea and it sparked the 4-H movement.
4-H came to Canada in 1913 where it found its first home in Roland, Manitoba. The Department of Agriculture donated one dozen purebred poultry eggs, purebred potatoes and seed to Manitoba youth for them to raise and grow over a period of several months. During this time a Club organizer checked on the boys and girls and provided them with information to help them get the best outcome for their crops and poultry. This initiative began the Boys’ and Girls’ club, which was a predecessor of 4-H. This club established many of the concepts that are still involved in 4-H today including:
Within this club the concept of “Learn To Do By Doing” was also born. The entire premise of the club was learning through youth engagement and hands on involvement. Although the official 4-H motto was not established until 1952, the basis for the 4-H learning approach was well underway. Folks were noticing the positive impact the Boys’ and Girls’ club was producing for youth in their local areas. The large success of the program in Manitoba combined with a movement that focused on formal agriculture education for youth caused the Boys’ and Girls’ club to spread across the country. Ontario clubs mimicked Manitoba’s club mentality and guidelines which furthered the “Learn To Do By Doing” learning approach and club structure.
The first Club in Ontario began in 1913 with a Potato Growing Contest in Carleton County, however this knowledge was only brought to light in the mid 1980’s. A Club established in Waterloo County in 1915 by Stanley Knapp, a District Representative for Waterloo Country, has been long recognized as the first Club in Ontario from which all of Ontario’s 4-H Anniversaries have been dated. In 1919 there were 450 4-H Members in Ontario and by 1923 the movement caught fire and clubs spread across the province totalling 127 clubs and 2,369 participants. The number doubled over the next decade and continued to grow with the inclusion of homemaking Clubs. 1935, the first homemaking Club was introduced and 1,000 girls completed the project called “A Simple Cotton Dress”.
The 1950’s brought about a great deal of change for the Boys’ and Girls’ club program. First of all, in 1952 the program name was changed to 4-H Canada. The name 4-H was selected to represent the 4-H’s in the pledge: head, heart, hands and health. At this point the 4-H logo was also selected. 4-H counterparts in the United States were already using the four leaf clover for the logo so 4-H Canada decided to adopted this logo and add a banner at the bottom with the word “Canada”. The learning to do by doing approach made headway and “Learn To Do By Doing” became the official 4-H motto. During the mid to late 1950’s there was also a critical refocus of 4-H initiatives. A switch was seen that placed the focus on the individual Members and their development rather than the project. The Club goal switched from the best calf or crop to the most well rounded individuals and best community contributing citizens. This is the focus 4-H still holds today; building leadership and life skills that equip youth with the tools they need to reach their full potential and become conscious and contributing citizens. In 1959, the first 4-H Leadership Week took place, a program that still runs today under the name of Provincial 4-H Leadership Camp.
The height of 4-H Ontario membership numbers was in 1965 when there were 28,833 4-H Members. By the 1980’s membership numbers were starting to drop and in 1988 the Ontario 4-H Council was established to act as a guardian of the 4-H program ensuring longevity of the program. It was then in 2000 that 4-H Ontario became an autonomous organization from the Government of Ontario. Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs ran the 4-H Ontario program up until this time.
Today 4-H Ontario has an expansive reach and can be found in communities all across the province; including rural, urban, and suburban areas. The 4-H program is still well rooted in a strong agriculture history but recognizes that everyone can benefit from the holistic and socially conscious approach 4-H takes to learning. Agriculture, food and the environment will always be an important part of the 4-H program, but Clubs that cover non-agriculture topics are also important to today’s youth. Youth in 4-H have the freedom and ability to tackle the issues that matter to them most; this makes the 4-H program unique and ever changing.