Five years ago Michigan State University began making scholarship money available to 8th graders who attend pre-college events on campus. The ever-popular 4-H Exploration Days and 4-H Great Lakes Natural Resources Camp are the two 4-H events through which youth can qualify for these scholarships. Of the 61 scholarships awarded in 2008, 57 went to 4-H youth! If these young people are accepted for admission and choose to enroll at MSU after they graduate from high school, $2,000 will be applied to their first year’s tuition.
I can’t begin to name all the people, staff and volunteers, who make 4-H Exploration Days and 4-H Great Lakes Natural Resources Camp successes. It takes many hands to pull together so many classes, activities and chaperones. I’ve met volunteers who give up a week’s vacation in order to drive a school bus, chaperone in the dormitories and teach classes at Exploration Days or serve as leaders at Great Lakes Camp. Their efforts pay off with outcomes like this!
I frequently cite the perennial dominance of 4-H’ers in this scholarship competition as evidence that we’re doing something right in 4-H. Exploration Days gives them an opportunity to experience a taste of college life and for many, it is their first time on a college campus. Great Lakes Camp shows them the experiential side of environmental science and reinforces that not all college learning happens in a classroom. By the time they complete either program, we want them to understand that college is something they can achieve and that it’s worth pursuing. The support they get throughout the year in their 4-H experience helps them to develop communication skills and a base of experiences from which they can develop a compelling scholarship application essay—n 8th grade!
There are many summer programs for youth offered on the MSU campus. 4-H Exploration Days and 4-H Great Lakes Natural Resources Camp represent a small proportion of the opportunities that MSU offers. Yet 4-H has dominated the MSU pre-college scholarship program since its inception and this year sets an all-time record. With the program now entering its sixth year, we hope to begin receiving data on college enrollment to learn how many of the recipients from past years end up going to college and of those, how many come to MSU.