Tag Archives: Michigan 4-H Youth Conservation Council

M4-HYCC testifies before Senate committee

We talk often about how our Michigan State UniversityExtension4-H Youth Development Program creates the leaders of tomorrow. But often, 4-H’ers don’t wait till they’re all grown up to use those leadership skills to make a difference. That was obvious when a group of 19 members of the Michigan 4-H Youth Conservation Council (M4-HYCC) gave a presentation before the Michigan Senate Committee on Natural Resources, Environment and Great Lakes on April 24.

The council is a leadership and confidence-building opportunity for teens who get a chance to explore solutions to environmental issues and provide a voice in state government public policy-making. Each year, members of M4-HYCC select and research a current environmental issue that affects the entire state. They spend about three months researching, which includes interviewing people, listening to presentations, and studying books and articles on the issue. The research concludes with a presentation before the state Senate.

Members of the M4-HYCC , a Michigan Senate Committee and a staff member pose for a photo after the council testified before the committee April 24, 2014, in Lansing, Mich. Photo credit: Jamie Wilson

Members of the Michigan 4-H Youth Conservation Council and the Michigan Senate Committee on Natural Resources, Environment and Great Lakes as well as a staff member pose for a photo after the council testified before the committee on improving the regulations related to home heating oil storage tanks April 24, 2014, in Lansing, Mich. Photo credit: Jamie Wilson

This year, the group’s research and presentation focused on home heating oil tanks. The council recommended expanding the regulations of PA 207 to include a broader jurisdiction over the tanks. It suggested that the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) be given the ability to ticket inadequate home heating oil tanks and supporting structures. It also suggested that education and training in proper inspection and fuel tank maintenance for fuel distributors be enhanced.

The senators expressed appreciation for all the hard work the 4-H’ers put into the project. They were impressed and spent time talking individually with them after the hearing ended.

“I thought the senators seemed surprised that home heating oil tanks in Michigan are largely unregulated,” said Extension educator Darren Bagley who coordinates the program.

The teen council members have been responsible for influencing the legislature in the past. In 2008, their testimony helped pass Senate Bill 152 and 362, which reduces the amounts of phosphorus permitted in dishwasher and laundry detergents. In 2003, their recommendations led to an introduction of a bill that directed the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to include special information about marine fuel spills in its boating safety course. Members also testified for a bill introduced in 2000 that promoted the development of the Michigan heritage water trail program. The bill was passed in 2002.

4-H member Dakota Hewlett, an MSU freshman who has been with the council since he was 13, provided leadership. Mallory Ramelis from Mackinac County took leadership for the presentation, and Samantha Ellison from Tuscola County took leadership for the paper.

Extension educator Insa Raymond acted as advisor, and Sam Owens (Midland County) and Paula Ramelis (Mackinac County) served as volunteer advisors.

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MSU Extension named to Hall of Fame

Before last month, I didn’t even know that Michigan has an Environmental Hall of Fame. I was chagrined to be ignorant about it, but I learned last Thursday that it has only been in existence for a year or two.

On May 9 at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan State University Extension, along with one other organization and three individuals were inducted into the Michigan Environmental Hall of Fame. MSU Extension was inducted into the hall for “providing environmental education to the people of Michigan.” MSU Extension is credited with helping to make Michigan’s environment a cleaner and healthier place to live. I’d like to think we’ve helped it be a more economically successful state as well, building on the natural assets that we share.

The Muskegon Environmental Research and Education Society formed the Michigan Environmental Hall of Fame in 2012. The society is in the process of raising funds for a new Education Center at the Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve in North Muskegon. The completed center will house an exhibit featuring Hall of Fame members.

Other inductees last week included former Governor William Milliken, Dr. Howard Tanner, former president of the Muskegon Conservation Club Fred Wilder and the Huron Pines organization.

It was heartening to hear someone else recognize the long record of service our programs have provided and the impacts they have on participants. Our work in coastal communities through the Michigan Sea Grant partnership with the University of Michigan; our programs on forest, fish and wildlife management; our work in natural resource-based tourism; our 4-H Youth Conservation Council; our partnership with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the Great Lakes Fisheries Commission ‒ all are examples of the contributions we’ve made to science-based resource management and utilization. For all who have contributed to these and similar programs in the past and present, and will continue to contribute in the future, this award belongs to you. You can view a nice plaque in room 108 Agriculture Hall.  Thanks to Ron Brown for sharing his photographs from the event.

 

Michigan State University Extension Director Tom Coon spoke of his appreciation for the honor bestowed on MSU Extension

On May 9, 2013, at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids, Mich., Michigan State University Extension Director Tom Coon spoke of his appreciation for the honor bestowed on MSU Extension in recognition of their long-standing commitment to educational programming that supports stewardship of Michigan’s natural heritage. Photo credit: Ron Brown

 

One feature that made the induction ceremony particularly notable for me personally was that Dr. Howard Tanner, former director of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and former director of natural resources at MSU, was inducted for his individual achievements. Dr. Tanner has been recognized widely for his contributions to conservation in Michigan, credited, along with Dr. Wayne Tody, for the introduction of Pacific salmon species to the Great Lakes in the 1960s, which has generated a recreational fishery currently valued at more than $4 billion in total economic impact. But there’s more to Dr. Tanner’s conservation legacy, and I hope to read his telling of those stories in book form in the near future. Dr. Tanner has had a long affiliation with my home department, Fisheries and Wildlife, so it was a special treat to share the evening with him.

2013 inductees to the Michigan Environmental Hall of Fame included (left to right) former Gov. William Milliken (represented by his son Bill Milliken), Dr. Howard Tanner, Mr. Fred Wilder, Huron Pines organization (represented by Brad Jensen) and Michigan State University Extension (represented by Director Thomas Coon).

On May 9, 2013, at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids, Mich., 2013 inductees to the Michigan Environmental Hall of Fame included (left to right) former Gov. William Milliken (represented by his son Bill Milliken), Dr. Howard Tanner, Mr. Fred Wilder, Huron Pines organization (represented by Brad Jensen) and Michigan State University Extension (represented by Director Thomas Coon). Photo credit: Ron Brown

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Professional environmental and outdoor education association recognizes MSUE contributors

The Michigan Alliance for Environmental and Outdoor Education (MAEOE) honored several Michigan State University Extension colleagues from our Greening Michigan Institute’s Natural Resources Literacy and Leadership (NRLL) signature program at the statewide professional educators’ association annual conference Oct. 13 at Michigan 4-H Foundation’s Kettunen Center in Tustin, Mich.

Steve Stewart, MSUE senior Sea Grant educator from southeast Michigan, received the 2012 William B. Stapp Award, which recognizes statewide, career-long commitment to environmental education. Nominators noted Steve’s national and international leadership in Great Lakes education and his commitment to developing science-based systems of teacher and volunteer professional development. Steve felt honored by the award particularly as he was able to meet and learn from William Stapp early in his career.

Andrea Grix received the 2012 Julian Smith Outdoor Education Award, named for the MSU faculty member known as the father of the international field of outdoor education. The award goes to one individual who has made outstanding contributions to outdoor education in Michigan and who exemplifies the best in the field of outdoor education. The individual must demonstrate a lifetime of devoted service with at least 10 years of that service in Michigan. Andrea serves as program manager for the Michigan 4-H Foundation at the Kettunen Center and provides leadership for state youth and adult conservation education. She serves as the Michigan 4-H Youth Conservation Council program coordinator and as a resource person for state-level Michigan 4-H Environmental & Outdoor Education programs. She assists with 4-H Great Lakes & Natural Resources Camp, and she has served on the MAEOE Board.

Bindu Bhakta, MSUE Oakland County educator, received the Recognition Award, for an individual who has made significant contributions to the fields of environmental and outdoor education. Oakland County Parks (OCP), a significant programming partner of MSUE, nominated Bindu for this award. OCP noted Bindu’s leadership impacts through the Michigan Conservation Stewards program, the Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership program and other watershed-based educational partnerships.

David Holt, an MSUE conservation steward, received the 2012 Volunteer Service Award. David volunteers tirelessly with Oakland County Parks. Using his MSUE volunteer development background, and building on more than 15 years of volunteer experience of his own, he spent more than 30 hours monitoring grassland birds at Highland Oaks Park during 2011 and 2012. His field work has improved park natural resources management of these birds.

Two teachers from the MSUE-sponsored Northeast Michigan Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative received Appreciation Awards. Rebecca Heckman of Inland Lakes Schools and Brian Matchett of Alcona Community Schools bring real-world stewardship learning to students through partnerships with conservation organizations, resource agencies and businesses. Brian is a 4-H alumnus of the Michigan 4-H Great Lakes & Natural Resources Camp for teen leadership, and he has served as a staff member.

Congratulations to this group for their professional impacts throughout the state, within the Great Lakes region and with international circles for their work in Natural Resources Literacy and Leadership!

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4-H Youth Conservation Council impresses Senate committees with environmental research

Michigan State University (MSU) Extension is helping educate and guide the next generation of leaders, and groups like the Michigan 4-H Youth Conservation Council (M4-HYCC) are leading the way.

Members of this group recently had the honor of speaking in front of two state Senate committees on the impact of invasive plant species on Michigan industries and ways to control invasive plants. The M4-HYCC research presentation was warmly received by the Senate panels, which lauded the group for their good information and solid answers to all of the committees’ questions.

The Natural Resources, Environment and Great Lakes committee was particularly fond of the group’s unique idea to encourage landowners to have goats and sheep graze land infested by invasive species, as the animals would eat the plants including the root systems.

The presentation was the culmination of one year of hard work conducted by the young M4-HYCC members as well as coordinator Andrea Grix, program leader Judy Ratkos and 4-H educators Darren Bagley and Insa Raymond.

Special thanks and appreciation also to the 4-H volunteers who work tirelessly to support this 4-H program: Jenny Curtis, Paula Ramelis and LeRoy Mikolowski, and the M4-HYCC’s partners in government, Bob Wilson, Senate majority policy advisor, Tom Occhipinti, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality environmental education coordinator, and Sue Tangora, who works on invasive species issues for the Department of Natural Resources and served as a key contact as the group crafted its research.

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