Tag Archives: michigan 4-h

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

Rich connections in District 14 affect students throughout the state

We asked Brandon Schroeder, Michigan State University (MSU) Extension Sea Grant educator, to share with us about a strategic connection he has made that has strengthened his impact. Brandon’s current programming efforts involve fisheries science, biodiversity conservation, sustainable coastal tourism and Great Lakes education: working with coastal communities in northeastern Michigan to apply science-based knowledge to address Great Lakes issues locally.

“I value my Extension role in making connections and building relationships, and believe it’s an important role we play in our communities,” Brandon said.

Our questions and Brandon’s answers follow:

Will you tell us about a strategic connection you’ve made?

One successful educational partnership I’d like to highlight is with the statewide Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative (GLSI) and our leadership for the Northeast Michigan Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative (NEMIGLSI) network. These relationships reflect rich connections made between schools and educators across northeastern Michigan – and the entire state – as well as fostering greater school-community partnerships. This place-based stewardship education initiative seeks to engage youth, through their learning, in environmental stewardship projects that make a difference in the community – and so youth also are connected as community partners.

How did you go about making the connection and building relationships?

  • Seeking organizational partners, building personal relationships: Early on, we identified an opportunity (with funding) to partner with the Great Lakes Fishery Trust and an emerging statewide GLSI network. With this in mind, we sought out and met regularly to recruit potential school and community partners who had mutual interests in connecting Great Lakes and natural resource stewardship with school learning opportunities.
  • Networking in regional meetings to foster relationships: In 2006, collaborating with 4-H colleagues, we hosted and facilitated the first of many regional networking meetings inviting school and community partners who had much to contribute and to gain in this Great Lakes and natural resource education conversation. This was an educational workshop also designed to serve a networking function by facilitating relationship-building and resource sharing among schools and partners. Conversations sparked during our first regional networking meeting, now an annual tradition, became the foundation for the NEMIGLSI partnership.
  • Facilitating an engaged leadership team: A regional leadership team for the NEMIGLSI was established and helped launched the initiative. This regional team still meets regularly to coordinate our educational efforts, provide shared leadership in implementing activities and collaborate around new opportunities (and securing new resources) for our growing NEMIGLSI network. Our leadership team is more than an advisory group; they are active contributors and beneficiaries in this joint programming.
  • Sharing investment, sharing successes: Leadership team partner organizations – community, school and teacher advisors – contribute significant time, expertise and resources toward NEMIGLSI network goals. In trade, we work to ensure that network programming and successes align with their own goals and educational initiatives.

What has been the outcome of this connection and how has it influenced your work and your district?

Our NEMIGLSI network and partnership is successfully fostering a growing place-based education culture in northeastern Michigan. Since 2009, more than 19,000 students (around 20 percent of student population annually) have engaged as Great Lakes stewards and valued community leaders through NEMIGLSI. This initiative has supported more than 35 schools (290 educators) from eight counties in professional development, community partners connections and stewardship project support. Numerous NEMIGLSI student projects have directly benefited Sea Grant and partner priorities helping to conserve Lake Huron’s biodiversity, map threatened and endangered species habitat, restore native fisheries, monitor water quality and vernal pool wetlands, manage invasive species, enhance aquatic habitat, investigate marine debris and more. A published program evaluation found that students value their learning experiences as hands-on and engaging, community connected, career oriented and fun. Perhaps most exciting is that students are serving as valued community and conservation partners today – and perhaps even more in their future!

Schroeder stands in the pond with three boys and is explaining the monitoring device in the water.

Schroeder engages students in wetland ecology: invasive phragmites monitoring.

Schroeder and a boy and a girl hold up a large net to do fisheries sampling.

Schroeder fisheries sampling with students during 4-H Great Lakes and Natural Resources Camp

What have you learned (personally or professionally) from this connection?

  • Embrace the power in partnerships! We can all cover more ground more efficiently and effectively, and achieve deeper, richer impacts as a result of collaborative programming. Relationships and connections (or partnerships) are both organizational AND personal. They demand significant time, energy and a bit of patience to foster, and require ongoing attention, commitment and care.
  • Relationships and partner connections are equally important to our science or technical content expertise, and the educational processes and methods we use to deliver this content in communities.
  • In Extension, I have found the most vibrant and exciting projects to be at the intersections of stakeholders and opportunities that wouldn’t normally (or as regularly) cross paths. For example, connecting schools, educators and youth with Great Lakes scientists or community development partners. Many times I find that community expertise, ideas and resources abound once we have simply helped open a door for networking and relationship-building.

Thanks again to Brandon for taking time to share with us about his strategic connections. One of our great strengths in Extension is our ability to bring people, organizations and resources together to make a profound impact on our state. Each month, I’ve shared a story from each district highlighting strategic connections our colleagues have made in hopes that it will inspire all of us to reach out.

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Filed under 4-H, Conservation, Impacts, Invasive species, Partnerships, Sea Grant Extension, strategic connections

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

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

Michigan 4-H receives awards at the States’ 4-H International Conference

From left to right: Yoko Kawaguchi, Martha Shapton, Heather Gray, Gwen Apger, Jan Brinn, D’Ann Rohrer and Cathy Sutphin. Photo courtesy of D'ann Rohrer; all posing with the award plaque on stage.

From left to right: Yoko Kawaguchi, Martha Shapton, Heather Gray, Gwen Apger, Jan Brinn, D’Ann Rohrer and Cathy Sutphin. Photo courtesy of D’ann Rohrer.

Michigan 4-H received three awards at the States’ 4-H International Exchange Conference in Seattle, Washington, Nov. 11. Michigan 4-H Youth Development received the Valued Partnership with States’ 4-H International Exchange Since 1974 Award and the Diversity in Hosting Award. Additionally, Michigan 4-H International Exchange Programs received the Extraordinary Quality Programs Award. Heather Gray, 4-H international exchange coordinator; children and youth educators Janis Brinn and D’Ann Rohrer; and Martha Shapton and Gwen Apger, both local program coordinators in the Upper Peninsula, traveled to Seattle to attend the conference and accept the awards presented by Cathy Sutphin, States’ 4-H board chair, and Yoko Kawaguchi, president of State’s 4-H International Exchange Programs.

“The success of States’ 4-H International’s global citizenship programs would not be possible without the efforts and dedication from 4-H staff and volunteers in your state, especially the state coordinator, D’Ann Rohrer,” Yoko said.

Among many accomplishments this year, Michigan generously stepped in to host several more delegates than the original hosting number. In addition, Michigan hosts the largest number of yearlong students among all participating states, one of whom attended the annual conference as a special guest speaker and youth ambassador. Yoko also acknowledged Michigan’s 43 years of uninterrupted partnership and its hosting of more than 2,800 delegates during that span.

Through our 4-H International Exchange Program, we hope to build relationships with other countries and to help our young people develop an international perspective. I would like to thank our 4-H International Exchange Program team, as well as the volunteers and host families who are making a difference internationally in youth’s lives in a way that sets us apart.

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Filed under 4-H, Awards

Michigan 4-H youth lead volunteer projects across the state

During the weekend of April 15-17, members of the Michigan 4-H State Youth Leadership Council (SYLC) led, organized and supported six service projects throughout Michigan for several days of national service. The SYLC is a group of outstanding Michigan 4-H teens who promote 4-H throughout the state and provide a youth perspective on the development of various state 4-H programs.

The projects included:

  • A tree-planting event at the Comden Towle Model Forest in Montcalm County. Nearly 40 4-H youth, parents and volunteers from Montcalm and Mecosta counties planted 250 white spruce trees.
  • An agricultural awareness event at an elementary school in Oakland County.
  • A 4-H booth at the Michigan State University (MSU) College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Small Animals Day in East Lansing. At the booth, event attendees created coloring pages that were donated to C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.
  • A cleanup of the Emmet County Fairgrounds. Fourteen 4-H’ers came together to pick up the grandstands and horse arena in preparation for summer events.
  • A gardening education program for fourth grade students in Oceana County. Students potted a vegetable plant, learned about gardening and were encouraged to donate their vegetable crops to local food donation programs.
  • A book drive to benefit children in Flint. Books were collected through May 16 to be donated to programs serving Flint children as reading has been identified as a way to combat the negative effects of lead contamination.

“We are so proud of both the Michigan 4-H members who planned these service projects and those who gave their time and service to help,” said Julie Chapin, state leader for the MSU Extension Michigan 4-H program. “They’re all a great example of the kind of true leaders we’re growing in 4-H: youth who lend a hand where it is needed, who find solutions to local problems and who have the skills to lead, both in their communities and at the state level.”

Would you like to read more about this event? Take a look at this article by Jamie Wilson of MSU Extension Communications to learn more.

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Filed under 4-H, Children and Youth, Volunteerism

Youth global engagement: World Food Prize Michigan Youth Institute

On May 12, Michigan State University hosted World Food Prize Michigan Youth Institute (WFP MIYI). During the one-day event, youth in grades 8 to 12 presented research and recommendations on how to solve key global challenges by giving short speeches and taking part in small group discussions with local experts. They had the opportunity to connect with other student leaders from across Michigan to share ideas, identify solutions to problems and build friendships. They also interacted with global leaders in science, agriculture, industry and policy as well as innovative researchers, professors and college students working to improve food security around the world. Youth participants took part in educational sessions and interactive panels to explore current research and issues in international development and life sciences.

Several youth shared about their experiences with WFP MIYI:

“World Food Prize Michigan Youth Institute has opened doors for me to a network that few organizations have the ability to do.”

“Through participating in WFP MIYI, I am more confident, learned so much and feel that I can make a difference.”

“My experience at the Michigan Youth Institute has given me skills in leadership and confidence, and has inspired me to think about others around the world.”

“My experience here not only helped me learn how to do research, write a paper on that research, and present it. It also exposed me to all of these global issues and to some wonderful experts and peers who are active in solving that.”

“The experience of participating in the World Food Prize Michigan Youth Institute has helped me prepare for a huge goal that will be to fight and conquer hunger.”

The WFP MIYI is sponsored by Michigan State University Extension, Michigan 4-H, the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and Michigan FFA. MSU Extension 4-H educators Makena Schultz and Brian Wibby lead the collaboration and organization of WFP MIYI.

“The WFP MIYI directly engages young people in what could be one of the most significant challenges ever to face humanity: How will we provide access to a sufficient, nutritious and sustainable diet for each of the 9 to 10 billion people who could be inhabiting our planet later in this century? The WFP MIYI helps young people to develop an understanding of the interconnected nature of the many factors that are related to global food security, and creates a space where youth can develop the knowledge and skills needed to create effective solutions to this wicked problem,” Brian said.

Makena feels that the most meaningful takeaway from the event is that young people have a chance to take action in their passion for helping others.

“The World Food Prize Michigan Youth Institute offers a lens for young people to do that, so they can explore their passion, through the lens of global food security, which is really exciting,” she said. “Young people have really innovative ideas, they’re very creative, they think outside the box, and very often they come up with great solutions to problems that maybe adults or other members of the community might not see so easily.”

Interested in hearing more about World Food Prize Michigan Youth Institute? Kraig Ehm of MSU Agriculture and Natural Resources Creative interviews Makena and participant Raegan Gembarski on the World Food Prize edition of In the Field on the Spartan Podcast.

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Filed under 4-H, Children and Youth, Food, Resources, Student Presentations, Youth development