Michigan State 4-H Awards delegates are top 4-H’ers who vie for numerous project awards ranging from Horses, Beef Cattle and Swine to Community Service and Special Group Projects during 4-H Exploration Days each year. And each year, the Michigan State 4-H Awards Committee selects a community service project for the state 4-H awards delegates to participate in during their state awards sessions. This year, the delegates were charged with collecting children’s books for kids who range in age from birth to aged 12. True to form, the youth went above and beyond what was expected and collected more than 400 new and gently used books in their home counties and brought them to 4-H Exploration Days. During one of their sessions, they focused on writing personal messages in the books to the books’ readers about their individual experiences in 4-H and what being part of the 4-H program has done for them. The youth used their own creativity, and many decorated around the messages that they wrote, which enhanced the personalization in each book.
Katie VanderKolk, Ionia County Michigan State University Extension 4-H youth educator and Michigan State 4-H Awards Committee member, who coordinated the session, contacted more than 12 agencies and organizations, such as hospitals, domestic violence shelters and doctors’ offices throughout the state that agreed to accept book donations. County 4-H staff members delivered the books from Exploration Days directly to the donation sites.
The service project was a chance for the delegates to give back to the community and to get other children interested in 4-H. It also gave them an opportunity to reflect on their 4-H experiences.