4-H around the world: Liberia – Part 1

The series exploring 4-H around the world continues as we explore Part 1 of 4-H Liberia.

4-H Liberia
4-H Liberia promoting females in agriculture and leadership. All photos courtesy of G. Umaru Sheriff.

This series exploring 4-H around the world continues as we explore 4-H Liberia. Mr. G. Umaru Sheriff, National Executive Director, helps us understand how 4-H programming looks in Liberia in this two-part series. Michigan State University Extension recommends learning about 4-H in other countries to expand our knowledge as well as foster a sense of connection across a distance.

Liberia is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by the Republic of Sierra Leone, Guinea and Ivory Coast. Monrovia is its capitol, named after the fifth President of the United States, James Monroe. The estimated population of Liberia is 4.1 million people in 2014 according to the Liberia Institute of Statistic and Geo-Information Service Household Income and Expenditure 2014 Statistical Abstract.

4-H in Liberia is fairly new, as it was established Aug. 14, 2006, by a group of university students from the University of Liberia, African Methodist Episcopal University and the African Methodist Episcopal Zion University. Considered a nonprofit organization, it is headquartered in Monrovia. 4-H Liberia currently operates in six counties: Montserrado, Bong, Bomi, Gbarpalu, Lofa and Margibi. 4-H Liberia is ran on a mostly volunteer basis. There is a volunteer board with seven members.

4-H Liberia Mission Statement

4-H Liberia empowers young people to become self-sufficient citizens by developing their potential in premiere leadership, agricultural sustainability and essential life skills.
Achievement of this mission will result in capable, competent, and caring citizens.

4-H Liberia Vision Statement

As these young people mature, equipped with the knowledge and skills to be productive citizens, Mama Liberia will develop into a wholesome, functioning, democratic society with an abundance of domestic food production.

Cross section of the participant of the CARI Training

4-H field officers.

Programs offered in 4-H Liberia

Enterprise School Garden

4-H Liberia believes one of the best and most sustainable ways to develop young people is by empowering them in agriculture. 4-H Liberia is changing lives in rural communities. The top 50 percent of schools involved in 4-H programs made an average of $810 from produce grown in the garden that was sold at the local market, taken home or sold at the agriculture fair. The impact of this is significant. Students who take produce home are helping make their homes more food secure by being able to provide more nutritious food to subsidize family expenditures. This helps increase parent support of the clubs.

Since 4-H clubs decide what to do with the money they earn, they have used it for a variety of purposes that benefit not only themselves, but their schools. Sometimes funds are used to help sponsor student school fees or pay for uniforms and other school supplies. Sometimes proceeds are used to repair the school building itself or build other necessary infrastructure. All these things are helping to make 4-H clubs more self-sustaining while bringing communities together through learning.

Gender Education

One of the objectives of the 4-H program is to develop leaders. Liberia, like other African countries, is a male dominant society. In the process of developing leaders, females need to be included without being restricted to certain jobs.

4-H Liberia has also been expanding to some other entrepreneurship projects. Students at several schools are learning to sew bags, headbands and other crafts out of African fabric. This allows leaders to talk about gender issues to both boys and girls while teaching a skill.

Additionally, a project making candles from beeswax, a by-product of Liberian honey production that is not commonly used, has started. Candles are being marketed in hotels and supermarkets around Monrovia.

Positive Youth Development

Just like here in Michigan 4-H, positive youth development programs are offered. One of the major activities for 4-H Liberia is the National Agriculture Fair.

The First National 4-H Liberia Youth Agriculture Fair was held at Don Bosco Polytechnic in Sinkor, Monrovia, on June 26, 2017. Approximately 38 schools were represented. The program incl uded presentations from the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Agriculture as well as the 4-H Liberia Program Officer. The keynote address was given by the Peace Corps Liberia Country Director, Kevin Flemming. 4-H Liberia club members were instrumental in the success and process of the fair. Each school had representatives helping to sell at the marketplace.

The finalists of the school garden competition from each county gave a 2-3 minute presentation about their garden: how they choose a site, prepared the land, nurtured their crops, harvested and handled their crops after harvest. Judges also looked at the quality and their display of the produce to decide who had the National Best 4-H School Garden.

Two judges from the Ministry of Agriculture and one judge from the Ministry of Education worked together to make the final decision. E.J. Yancy, public school from Kakata, Margibi County, was named Reserve Champion. Todee Presbyterian of Todee, Montserrado County, was named Grand Champion. Both received trophies; the grand champion school also received 20 medals for its 4-H members.

Group activity

One of the winning schools and the ag fair.

4-H club members displayed their produce on tables while guests walked around purchasing produce. A few students from John Christian Public School in Brewerville also displayed a variety of handmade bags, purses, headbands and pouches made from African Fabrics. Field officers were honored for their services to 4-H Liberia with a medal and a note of thanks by the 4-H Liberia Program Officer. Funding for this event was generously provided by the United States African Development Foundation and Ralph C. Norman Foundation.

More of the major activities for 4-H Liberia will continue in Part 2 of “4-H around the world: Liberia.” Stay up-to-date with 4-H Liberia on their 4-H Liberia Facebook page and their newly launched 4-H Liberia official website!

4-H is around the world making positive impacts on youth!

Other articles in the series:

Michigan State University Extension and the Michigan 4-H Youth Development program helps to prepare youth as positive and engaged leaders and global citizens by providing educational experiences and resources for youth interested in developing knowledge and skills in these areas.

To learn about the positive impact of Michigan 4-H youth leadership, citizenship and service and global and cultural education programs, read our 2016 Impact Report: “Developing Civically Engaged Leaders.” Additional impact reports, highlighting even more ways Michigan State University Extension and Michigan 4-H have positively impacted individuals and communities in 2016 can be downloaded from the MSU Extension website.

Find other global educational opportunities on the MSUE Global and Cultural Education website. For more information about 4-H learning opportunities and other 4-H programs, contact your local MSU Extension county office. If you would like to learn more about Michigan 4-H International Exchange Programs for hosting or travel, be sure and visit the website.

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