Michigan State University Extension staff members did their part – as presenters and participants – to represent our organization well in the fifth annual Michigan Pre-College and Youth Outreach Conference hosted Nov. 19 by MSU. The 380 conference participants included 13 Children and Youth Institute staff members.
Presenters built their sessions around the conference theme “Building Capacity to Collectively Prepare Students for College and Careers.” The conference provided a chance for participants to network and to learn more about preparing young people for a successful transition to higher education and careers. Having prepared and confident young people pursuing higher education and entering Michigan’s work force has long-range beneficial economic impact.
Extension educators Michelle Neff and Bev Przystas presented a session on incorporating character and asset building in pre-college programs, and Extension educators Jodi Schulz and Kendra Moyses presented a session on experiential learning. Senior program leader Judy Ratkos, who was also on the conference steering committee, presented three sessions: programming to the ages and stages of youth audiences, pre-college programs assessment, and youth safety and well-being.
A panel of student alumni from a variety of pre-college programs across the state included 4-H Exploration Days and State 4-H Awards past participant Amanda Fries from Menominee County. Now a senior majoring in social work, Amanda shared that her 4-H pre-college experiences had a profound influence on her career choice and contributed to her success as a college student.
People attending and presenting at the conference represented nearly all of the 15 public Michigan universities as well as numerous Michigan community colleges, the Michigan Department of Education, Michigan College Access Network, the Detroit and Grand Rapids Public Schools and other state intermediate school districts, the Michigan Nonprofit Association and a variety of other organizations. This was a tremendous opportunity to showcase how our 4-H programs can be helpful to all of Michigan’s higher education institutions. Kudos to our colleagues who saw the opportunity and made the most of it!