The Trelawny 4-H Club has expanded and diversified its online programs to meet training needs during the pandemic.
Parish director Natanish Hines said the move responds to growing demand for vocational training, including in new areas, as people seek to pivot and identify other sources of income.
She said that since 2000, “We have gone above and beyond to provide the necessary training our young people need to pivot today. We have run a number of online trainings and of course these are free trainings. ”
Hines said the focus has been on equipping people with skills in raising rabbits and the care and management of goats and poultry.
The objective is to meet local demand but also to encourage the consumption of rabbits as a source of animal protein.
As of June 2021, the training has been extended to include pig care and management, beekeeping (beekeeping) and cattle breeding for dairy and beef production.
An interesting feature of the new training modality, Hines said, is that it has been broadened to include non-clubbites and people outside of Trelawny. “We have participants from all over Jamaica… and we have reached people from all 14 parishes through our online platform,” she said.
Periodically, the platform’s capacity of 100 is oversubscribed with people looking to change careers, get training and certification, or improve their earning potential, she added.
“We saw on occasion… for the care and management of rabbits, the care and management of poultry and beekeeping, where we registered up to 99 participants. We also had 105 registrants, ”noted Hines.
Participants receive a master’s level certification upon completion of the training.
Hines said she was happy with the absorption level of the male participants, who outnumber women.
“I have to say well done to our men, and it’s not just those who are alone and unemployed (who participate). You will find that we have religious groups coming up. You will find that you have a lot of community organizations.
“We even have professionals who use the certification for their personal and professional development,” she said.
Hines said the number of grassroots programs rolled out by Jamaica’s 4-H clubs is also a clear indication that the movement remains committed to its core values of youth agricultural training and youth empowerment.
Jamaica’s 4-H clubs are dedicated to mobilizing, educating and training young people between the ages of five and 25 in the areas of agriculture, housekeeping, leadership and social skills, which which will prepare them or influence them towards careers in agriculture and professions related to agronomy.
The aim is to provide a cadre of young, trained leaders capable of contributing to national development.