4-H Tech Wizards ready to launch in Michigan

Michigan State University Extension 4-H has received an $82,000 grant from the National 4-H Council and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) to expand youth mentoring. 4-H Tech Wizards, a small group-mentoring program that matches professionals who work in science, engineering and technology (SET) fields with youth, will be implemented in Ottawa and Wayne counties.

 Reducing and helping prevent juvenile delinquency and school failure, and building supportive relationships are primary goals of the initiative, as well as introducing mentees to opportunities within the SET fields. The program includes an emphasis on building family and community support that will promote college access for youth. It also provides participants with meaningful opportunities to engage in service learning.

 Extension mentoring educators Laura Schleede, Ottawa County, and Edward Scott, Wayne County, will provide local leadership to this initiative. Laura and Ed, along with mentoring specialist Lisa Bottomley and associate program leader Molly Frendo just returned from a grantee training in Washington D.C. The team is ready to launch the program with participation from 120 youth.

 According to Lisa Bottomley, Michigan has offered youth mentoring through 4-H for many more years than most other states, and our Extension colleagues across the country are looking to Michigan for support.

 “People really want to learn more about mentoring, and we have the resources,” said Lisa. “In fact, at this very moment I am pulling things together to send to a large group who requested support.”

 Tech Wizards is a program that was developed in Washington County, Ore., and has shown dramatic impacts on a population of youth with high dropout rates from high school. It’s featured as part of the Revolution of Responsibility marketing campaign for 4-H developed by the National 4-H Council. You can learn more about the Oregon project at “Our mouse started a revolution”. I’m sure we can expect great things to happen in this program with the MSUE mentoring team at the helm.

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