That was the challenge presented to us by Don Floyd, CEO of the National 4-H Council, a philanthropic intermediary for the 4-H system. Working with Don, his senior leadership team, and Nanci Luna Jimenez we designed and developed the agenda for an international conference that would bring together 4-H professionals from around the world to discuss the framework for a global partnership.
The First International 4-H Executive Conference was held between the 23rd and 26th of February (2011) at the National 4-H Conference Center in Chevy Chase, Maryland, USA. The theme of the Conference was Exploring the Potential of a Global 4-H Partnership. The gathering offered international 4-H leaders the opportunity to exchange stories of impact, to hear from other 4-H leaders, and to explore the potential benefits of more frequent and intentional international dialogue and collaboration. Delegates representing 4-H programs in Canada, Costa Rica, Finland, Ghana, Jamaica, Korea, Taiwan, Tanzania, and the United States, as well as Rural Youth Europe attended.
The Conference began with an ambitious agenda. Over the course of four days, delegates participated in a series of working sessions designed to establish a rationale and a framework for global partnership and collaboration. With the use of simultaneous translation in Spanish and Korean, the presentations and the discussions that ensued were rich and thought provoking. The delegates shared examples of some of the challenges, as well as the opportunities for collaboration and partnership in their regions. They offered detailed descriptions of the kinds of support and exchange that can enhance their ability to expand 4-H programs in their countries and regions. The delegates also agreed to guiding principles, core values, and a vision and purpose statement that will anchor the emerging international network. On day four, the delegates broke into smaller groups and identified action steps, deliverables, and tentative timelines for moving the network forward.
In the months that followed the Conference, we also wrote a comprehensive business plan the Council was able to use to secure a multi-million dollar grant to launch the Global 4-H Network.