Located in Northeastern Alberta, Ardmore School was the first school-based 4-H club to be established in both Alberta and Canada. It began in the fall of 2007 with initially only 12 members already involved in an extracurricular 4-H club. With 93 members in grades 4-9, 81 new students were introduced to the Alberta 4-H program.
The program was established for several reasons:
- to provide students with “true option choices”,
- try to slow a declining enrollment,
- provide a unique experience that would embrace their rural roots,
- allow all 4-H age students the opportunity to participate in one of the best youth organizations in the world, a chance most were not getting.
Ardmore School operates with a General Leader to oversee the entire program. This person handles all paperwork, recordkeeping, meetings and activity planning with the executive. Teachers become screened 4-H leaders.
Four different projects are offered in each school term, which are then led by teachers. Projects that were offered during their first two years of the pilot program included exploring 4-H, crafts, small pets, outdoorsman, photography, gardening, business, nestboxes and performing arts.
The program has completed its two-year pilot status and has been a huge success. The school plans on continuing the program in the future as they see an enormous benefit to all.
The Tilley 4-H Club, located in the South 4-H Region, began the school component of their program in the fall of 2008. The school had just lost their high school the previous year and their local 4-H beef club was down to six members - which by Alberta 4-H guidelines falls below the acceptable limit. At that point, the school decided to operate jointly with the beef club in order to give more youth a chance to participate through the school. Integrating a club also kept their beef extracurricular club alive.
Led by two Project Leaders, the school program was offered to 28 students in grades 7-9. Over the course of the year, 11 projects were offered within the school day. The available projects included quilting, woodworking, welding, photography (black/white), art (printmaking, masks, sculpture, fingerprint characters, watercolor flowers) and building construction. Tilley School has a General Leader who completes the paperwork, promotion, and assists the executive with meetings.
With one year completed, Tilley School plans to continue with the same format involving the same enrollment numbers. This program saved their local beef club and provided options to their junior high students; it was definitely a win-win situation.