Atlantic High School Students invited by 4-H to Explore
Leadership in Communication and Community Engagement at StFX
ANTIGONISH – One hundred Atlantic high schools students and 4-H seniors will come to the St. Francis Xavier University From May 11 to 13 to participate in workshops and sessions on communication and community engagement.
Jordan MacDonald, a StFX student on the planning committee, thinks young people will be excited by theme.
“We see incredible leadership from youth every day, so we want this conference to bring young people together to share knowledge and explore their communication style and volunteer interests.”
Sally van de Wiel, the Committee chair agrees. She says that community engagement and communication have always been integral to the 4-H program.
“What’s impressive to see is how young people bring such great energy to both these areas. They communicate in a wide variety of ways and they innovate new ways to get involved in community.”
The conference program is rich and varied. On May 11, Chris Koch will give his keynote address “If I can ….” to conference delegates and community members. Koch, an Alberta farmer, travels the world sharing his story of overcoming physical disability and inspiring people to believe anything is possible.
On the morning of May 12, participants will choose which small group, ‘hands on’ sessions they prefer to do. They can choose from doing videography, musical theatre, visual arts, pitching a product, mindfulness, ‘improv’, radio interviewing, practicing coaching styles, and playing contemporary music. A combination of faculty, community members, and StFX students will lead these sessions.
On May 13, the StFX 4-H Society members organized Learn to Lead by Leading workshops, with mentorship from a former 4-H member who is now a 4-H parent and volunteer. The StFX 4-H Society is a student group that does outreach with Antigonish County 4-H Clubs and helps to plan to conference.
Professors Norine Verberg and Neil Maltby sit on the Conference Steering Committee. Dr. Verberg said that StFX students created the 4-H Society and they were the ones who came up with the idea of having a student-organized youth conference. She noted that everyone saw it was a great fit with StFX’s focus on leadership and service learning.
“I am familiar with the 4-H program,” says Verberg. “My son did the junior leader project, where he worked with the senior leader to develop leadership skills around organizing, planning and managing project activities. The work StFX students are doing on conference development is a natural progression from that sort of leadership work.”
Agricultural Leadership coordinator, Rhonda MacDougall says she is so impressed with the quality of leadership from the StFX students on the conference planning committee.
“Most of them have a 4-H background, so this is a labour of love for them. They know and value the 4-H program, and most of them have been, as we say in 4-H, “learning to do by doing” for years.” According to MacDougall, the StFX students had great session ideas, but they also put a call out to StFX faculty for session proposals, which brought in more great topics.
Pauline MacIntosh, from the StFX Extension Department, is pleased to see the connection between 4-H and StFX get rekindled. She notes that in 1922, “Little Doc Hugh” from StFX Extension established the first 4-H Club in Nova Scotia in Heatherton. Jordan MacDonald says that Extension celebrating its 90th anniversary, so it is a great coincidence that the pillar theme is community engagement, which is core to Extension’s history and mandate. The Steering Committee is pleased that Extension partnered with them to host Chris Koch and open his wonderful talk up to the wider community. Kenzie MacNeil saw Chris’ presentation at 4-H Global last summer. She said “Chris Koch is going to create so much energy and smiles. He has quite the sense of humour and he really gets you thinking.”
Professor Neil Malty who joined the committee this year says “I think the experiential learning involved in planning and hosting a youth conference is fantastic. I think the delegates will enjoy working with the twenty or so StFX students that will be hosting the event. And I think this conference planning committee is a “classroom” of sorts for a special, very valuable kind of experiential learning. It’s been great to see this happen here at StFX.”
Apply online at www.alumni.stfx.ca/4h18
The registration deadline is April 30. Registration is $150 and includes meals, accommodations and a conference t-shirt. For more information, contact Rhonda MacDougall at Rhonda.MacDougall@novascotia.ca or 902-863-7501