October 27, 2023, Ontario 4H celebrated its 25th anniversary.
Since being founded in 1998, the goal of the Foundation has been simple – to acquire and invest funds through endowments and donations for the long-term benefit of 4-H programs in Ontario.
For over a century, 4-H Ontario has built youth into leaders in their communities and positive contributors to the world. With roots in rural Ontario, 4-H Ontario is open to all youth across the province.
4-H brings together youth ages 6-21 and passionate, engaged volunteer leaders to learn about selected topics through fun, hands-on activities and mentorship. There are also provincial camps, conferences, competitions and national and international travel opportunities available.
In 4-H, youth find a place they can be involved, accepted, valued and heard while developing valuable life skills in leadership, business, self-confidence and more.
At the end of 2021, funds managed by the Foundation totalled nearly $3.5 million. In the last eight years, the Foundation has provided over $800,000 in direct program support and scholarships to youth participants, associations, and provincial programming. This new fundraising goal will enable them to significantly increase that annual amount.
The Ontario 4- H Foundation is reminding the public about its fundraising initiative with the goal of raising $250,000 in 2023. This new money will enable the Foundation to increase the funding it allocates annually to 4-H programming and operations.
In addition, donations made now will increase in value three-fold given the Foundation’s annual returns of five per cent (5%) or more.
Foundation Chair Naomi Lutes says that, “The Foundation’s 25th anniversary is an opportunity to reflect on the history of 4-H while looking ahead to the future. And we want that future to be financially secure. That’s why the Foundation Trustees decided to encourage 4-H alumni, friends, and supporters to help us build our endowment fund – a fund that I like to think of as a retirement savings plan for 4-H. I know that so many people already give generously – both of their time and money – to the 4-H program. If you already support 4-H, thank you, and please consider sharing our message with your network. In whatever way you can, I encourage you to help the Foundation ensure that 4-H will be there for Ontario’s youth in the future.”
The 4-H program has been invaluable in the development of so many industry leaders in the province. Through its focus on “Learn to do by Doing,” hands-on activities not only teach practical skills, but also leadership, public-speaking, governance, networking, time management and organizational skills – all key attributes to help youth achieve success in today’s busy world.
The Honourable Lisa Thompson, Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, credits much of her success to being a member of 4-H. “4-H will always hold a very special place in my heart. This program positions young people for success in Ontario while encouraging an appreciation for Ontario’s agriculture and food industry and also for rural life, and it creates a strong community where everyone feels welcomed. 4-H has so much to offer in terms of leadership development, sense of community, and skills that will last a lifetime.”
In line with the 25th anniversary, the Foundation is asking alumni and friends to make a onetime $250 pledge. If even one-tenth of the people who have been affiliated with 4-H in the province over the past 25 years make this pledge, the goal will be more than met.
Donations can be made through the Foundation page on the 4-H Ontario website at https://4-hontario.ca/about-4-h/the-ontario-4-h-foundation/ or contact the 4-H Ontario Foundation directly.