Category Archives: Children and Youth

Pre-college experiences and growth at 4-H Exploration Days

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Over 2,400 youth and adults registered to attend 4-H Exploration Days, which took place June 21–23 at Michigan State University (MSU). This fun MSU pre-college program for youth ages 11–19 is designed to help them develop important skills such as responsibility, independence, accountability, communication, problem-solving and more.

“4-H Exploration Days is the highlight of the summer for some youth,” MSU Extension educational events program coordinator Laura Potter-Niesen said. “They come to campus to get a taste of what college is like. They often are pushed to make their own decisions about time management, their preference for activities and choosing friends. It’s the first time some of the youth experience independence, and that is an important feeling for youth, especially at this age.”

Over three days, youth had the opportunity to take classes, navigate campus, stay overnight in dorms, eat in campus cafeterias and take part in activities of their choice.

This year, 4-H Exploration days featured some new courses. Laura told us that their new session on making root beer using science, technology, engineering and math skills was a hit.

“They were able to make their own root beer to take home and were able to learn about the chemistry behind the brewing process,” Laura said.

MSU Extension senior educator Debra Barrett wrote an article about another new, full session that gave youth the opportunity to create a resume and a portfolio for job interviews.

Before coming to 4-H Exploration days, youth attended a county orientation to prepare them for their experiences on campus. Kea Norrell-Aitch wrote an article about the new diversity and inclusion activity designed for these orientations this year.

Since the event “…attracts such a diverse audience, it was determined county orientations were the perfect platform to incorporate an activity that will provide 4-H members with an opportunity to increase life skills around diversity prior to attending such a large statewide program,” Kea wrote.

4-H Exploration Days hosts about 2,500 youth and adults annually, some who are new to the program and others who keep coming back every year. One participant from Luce County wrote in her evaluation:

“This is my seventh, and final, 4-H Exploration Days year. Seven years ago, as a new sixth grader, I signed up for a class and rode a bus where my toes didn’t touch the floor. Now, at the age of 18, I make my way back to MSU in the fall as a member of the class of 2021 – something 11-year-old me vowed never to do. Thank goodness for that human ability to change. I can’t thank 4-H enough. For hot, sticky nights in dorms. For the half a dozen overworn, faded T-shirts and for the friends I’ve made here. I believe in commitment. In seven years of dedication, I believe in 4-H Exploration Days, and – more importantly – I believe in myself and my ability to create change in the world.”

I’d like to take a moment to thank all of our staff and volunteers for all of your efforts to put together an outstanding and impactful program for Michigan youth.

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Filed under 4-H, Children and Youth, Uncategorized

4-H True Leaders help with rangeland wildfire disaster relief

As a part of the National 4-H True Leaders in Service initiative in April, Michigan State University Extension Michigan 4-H youth from over 10 counties participated in various activities to provide disaster relief to farms and ranchers affected by wildfires. Back in March, regions in Colorado, Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas saw high winds and uncontrollable wildfires that devastated vast areas of rangeland causing ranchers to struggle to feed and care for their livestock. Michigan 4-H’ers sprang into action by collecting supplies and funds to send. Several groups even traveled to Kansas and Oklahoma to help rebuild farms.

To read about each county’s efforts and to hear from the 4-H True Leaders who participated, visit our website to view the article “4-H ‘True Leaders’ Across Michigan Assist in Rangeland Wildfire Disaster Relief.”

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Filed under 4-H, Children and Youth

MSU Extension Water Education in Bath

On May 11, Joyce McGarry, Michigan State University (MSU) Extension nutrition and food safety educator, was invited to visit Bath Elementary School in recognition of the school’s two new water-refilling stations donated by Delta Dental. She was asked to talk with 178 fourth- and fifth-graders on the important health benefits of water.

Joyce added visual demonstrations. With the help of student volunteers, she counted the number of teaspoons of sugar present in popular sports and flavored water drinks, and compared the results with water, which has no sugar.

Students also had the opportunity to share their knowledge of water and some of their own water practices. For example, one student said that as a treat, his grandmother allows him to drink pop at her house; otherwise, he only drinks milk and water at home. Having students reflect on their own experiences helps them to connect with what they learn.

At the end of the presentation, students were given water bottles that can be refilled throughout their school day. Joyce shared the importance of properly washing the water bottles on a regular basis to get rid of harmful bacteria buildup.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), providing drinking water to students helps to increase their overall water consumption, maintain hydration, reduce intake of sugar-sweetened beverages and may help improve cognitive function. One important way that schools can make a difference is increasing students’ access to water, and allowing them to bring bottles of water to class. Bath Elementary School took it one step further, adding in water and nutrition education by partnering with Joyce and MSU Extension.

Joyce felt that this was an excellent opportunity to engage with the students.

“What a great day to share with great kids!” Joyce said.

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Filed under Children and Youth, grants, Nutrition

The Inspiring 4-H Challenged Me program

During the 2016 Eastern Michigan State Fair, the 4-H Challenged Me program gave mild to severely disabled children from Lapeer, Macomb, Tuscola and Sanilac counties the chance to show livestock. The program had 17 members and 19 coaches who taught them how to handle, train, show and care for the animals. Two innovative 4-H alumni, Tiffany Howell and Michelle Peel, teamed up with the local intermediate school district social worker and the Michigan State University (MSU) Extension 4-H program coordinator, Kathy George, to set the program in motion. In January, the 4-H Challenged Me Club was chosen as a Program of Excellence by the American Farm Bureau Federation. Read the full story, “4-H Challenged Me helps kids make a new connection,” by Laura Scott, and see the photos on the MSU Extension website. Let it challenge us to think about ways we can reach people of all ages who have special needs or are underserved.

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Filed under 4-H, Awards, Children and Youth, diversity, Uncategorized

Joining 4-H and Alumni at the MSU Women’s Basketball Game

More than 4,500 4-H youth, their families, and Michigan State University (MSU) Extension staff members and their families attended the MSU Women’s Basketball game Jan. 22.

For the first time, Michigan 4-H alumni and the Michigan 4-H Foundation also hosted an event for 4-H alumni. More than 60 people from across the state attended the event and enjoyed food, coloring for kids, games, a Spartan Selfie Station, a visit from Sparty and general networking. We hope this is the first of many successful alumni events.

At halftime, 4-H’ers from Ingham, Macomb, Oakland and Saginaw counties made their way to the court. They were joined by Patrick Cudney, associate director of MSU Extension, and Julie Chapin, Children and Youth Institute director, as they proudly led the 4-H pledge:

I pledge my head to clearer thinking,
my heart to greater loyalty,
my hands to larger service,
and my health to better living,
for my club, my community, my country and my world.

Youth stand on the court with Julie Chapin and Patrick Cudney and lead the pledge.

Youth from Ingham, Macomb, Oakland and Saginaw counties lead the 4-H pledge with Julie Chapin and Patrick Cudney.

Thank you to everyone who came together to make the alumni event and the 4-H Day at the Breslin so successful!

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Filed under 4-H, Children and Youth

Why BEES are important to early childhood development

Are you wondering why an insect is important in childhood development? Well, the BEES I’m talking about don’t have anything to do with insects. BEES stands for our Building Early Emotional Skills program that is taught over eight weeks and uses hands-on activities and group discussions to help parents reduce stress, increase children’s social and emotional competencies, and increase the quality of parental modeling. The preliminary data show that it’s making a difference: participants report a positive increase in their parenting skills and functioning. We’re seeing positive results and an increase in demand for these classes.

The BEES program was developed by Holly Brophy-Herb’s team in the Michigan State University (MSU) Department of Human Development and Family Studies and adapted by our MSU Extension BEES team. Our team is made up of Kendra Moyses, Carrie Shrier, Maria Millett, Kylie Rymanowicz and Alan Pilkenton who all work closely with Holly.

The National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (NEAFCS) recently selected the BEES program to receive first place nationally and regionally in the Human Development and Family Relationships Award category at the NEAFCS 2016 Annual Session Awards. This influential program and these passionate educators are deserving of these awards. I hope you’ll take a moment to congratulate your colleagues in person when we all come together next week at Fall Extension Conference.

To learn more about the program and the award, read the press release on our MSU Extension website.

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Filed under Awards, Children and Youth, Social and emotional health

4-H’ers receive scholarships, Extension engages the public at the Michigan State Fair

The Michigan State Fair (MSF) was a complete success. Thanks to over 60 4-H volunteers and staff members, we had an outstanding opportunity to engage with visitors throughout the Labor Day weekend. Over 112,000 people attended the fair, and it was a great opportunity to get the word out about all Michigan State University (MSU) Extension has to offer them.

MSU Extension staff members hosted a booth to present programs and activities to the public, and our 4-H’ers and volunteers led activities for youth such as hoverball, archery, arts and crafts, and other hands-on activities.

We also received the big news that our outstanding Oakland County 4-H youth received a total of over $10,000 in urban farming and rural scholarships from the MSF. On September 22, they even got a chance to visit the State Capitol where they were welcomed by Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kowall and Rep. Kathy Crawford to celebrate their achievements.

Oakland County 4-H youth and leaders pose for a photograph at the State Capitol with Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kowall and Rep. Kathy Crawford to celebrate their achievements. Photo courtesy of Oakland County 4-H.

Oakland County 4-H visited the Capitol visit the State Capitol where they were welcomed by Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kowall and Rep. Kathy Crawford. Photo courtesy of Oakland County 4-H.

The 4-H relationship with the Fifth Third Bank, MSF and Suburban Collection Showplace began several years ago at the Novi Equestrian Expo 4-H Youth Activities area. Because of our reputation, MSU Extension was invited to be a participant at the 2015 MSF and given a free booth to showcase its many awesome programs. This year, the MSF gave the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) , AgBioResearch and MSU Extension a 40-foot by 70-foot booth to present programs and activities. For participating, MSU Extension gets a seat on the State Fair steering committee, free entry for all MSU Extension staff and volunteers serving at the booth, and reduced parking fees. In addition, top representatives of the CANR, AgBioResearch and MSU Extension are invited to attend the MSF VIP event for networking.

Photo of the Oakland County 4-H, MSU Extension, AgBioResearch and the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources booth. Several people standing and sitting and chatting.

The MSF’s generous donation of space for Oakland County 4-H, MSU Extension, AgBioResearch and the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Photo courtesy of Fran Adelaja.

This has been an amazing opportunity for our organization and our 4-H youth. Mark your calendars for next year’s fair on Labor Day weekend!

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Filed under Children and Youth, Events, michigan state fair