National 4-H Council commits to a new initiative to reach 2,500 youth in the US and 4,000 in Africa with high-quality positive youth engagement programs related to food security. Agricultural science and further STEM (science, engineering, technology, and applied math) concepts will be the delivery mode for food-security awareness and prevention tactics.
In the US, National 4-H Council will reach youth through pilot grants to a small number of state 4-H programs that will involve a total of 2,500 4-H members and 500 volunteers in community-based, culturally relevant food security/hunger relief projects. Volunteers will be both private individuals and, potentially, employees from aligned corporate partners. Sites were selected based on the following criteria: high need in the area of food security; effective 4-H program with history of youth engagement and community service; commitment to engaging girls and young women; agriculture/food production important to state's economy. Each grantee will tailor its programming to local circumstances and needs, ensuring maximum community benefit while reaching 4-H'ers with high-quality positive youth development programming.
In 2012, the Global Clover Network (GCN), a subsidiary of National 4-H Council, launched a successful pilot of the Enterprise Gardens initiative through a partnership with Ghana 4-H. Through the 4-H Leadership Institute and peer-to-peer programs, Ghana 4-H and the GCN will expand this initiative to Kenya, Tanzania, and South Africa to reach 4,000 young people. Partner 4-H programs in Africa were selected with the same criteria as in the US, as well as interest and commitment of in-country partners to collaborate. This initiative will offer high-quality, hands-on educational opportunities for African youth, while demonstrating that agriculture can still offer youth the opportunity to propel them toward a sustainable livelihood and provide food security/hunger relief for their communities.
Action plan for US projects:
October 1, 2012 - grantees are selected and receive grants
December 15, 2012 - grantees participate in training on toolkit of resources for the projects, including use of social media, and corporate/employee engagement strategies
December 15, 2012- grantees submit final reports
April 15, 2013 - grantees submit interim progress report, including report on number of youth and adults engaged and volunteer service hours
January 15, 2014 - toolkit of resources available more broadly to 4-H system and other partners
Action plan for Africa projects:
Fall 2012 - Country-partners begin 'train-the-trainer' activities on enterprise gardens
Spring 2013 - Country partners submit baseline data reports: number of youth, number of volunteers, income generated, etc.
July 2013 - Country partners submit progress reports and update strategic plans
June 2014 - Country partners submit final reports
According to the United Nations World Food Program, one in seven people currently go to bed hungry every night worldwide. Hunger kills more people than AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined. Of the more than 1.3 billion young people ages 12 to 24, many are rural youth without access to resources to develop a viable future. In many regions of the developing world, such as Sub-Saharan Africa, agricultural development has not reached productivity levels necessary to overcome urgent hunger and poverty.
Fortunately, around the world and in the United States, the solution is clear: young people. As the world endeavors to produce more food more efficiently and make food accessible and affordable for everyone, we must look to youth to develop sustainable solutions.
The young people of today are the farmers, scientists, and agri-business leaders who will feed the world in 2050. They are the linchpin to any successful strategy for feeding a population that is expected to reach more than 10 billion people by century's end. They will be the ones who will design and implement new agricultural technology that will produce more food using fewer resources and develop the necessary infrastructure to carry food from places of abundance to places of hunger and famine. And it is young people who will lead families and communities toward healthy living. They can be the catalyst that helps food-insecure families make informed nutritional choices with limited resources.
Given this, preparing today's youth to address food insecurity and nutritional deficiency in an increasingly complex world takes on a renewed sense of urgency. The problem will not be fixed overnight. Youth need the tools, resources, and information to create long-term solutions to feed a growing world and change unhealthy behaviors for themselves, their communities and their world. This is the surest path to success.