Tag Archives: national 4-H council

Where does 4-H grow leaders? Right here in Michigan

At the 4-H Day at the Breslin event, we launched the new awareness and recruitment campaign for 4-H in Michigan: 4-H Grows Here. I am excited about this new campaign and wanted to share with you a little bit about it and let you know how important it is.

Our Michigan 4-H campaign matches the national campaign launched in 2015 by the National 4-H Council, which illustrates all the positive development skills it fosters in its youth – creativity, courage, teamwork, determination, confidence and more. With a nod to its agricultural roots, the 4-H Grows Here brand also celebrates all the unique and diverse ways 4-H programming has expanded in the past 100 years. If you have a few minutes, watch this great video below that showcases 4-H history and future focus.

4-H Brand Essence video

Michigan is one of a handful of key partners selected by the National 4-H Council to help with the roll-out of the campaign, and we are excited to bring it to life in our state. That we were chosen to help with the roll-out is something to be proud of, and just another reminder of the national prestige that our MSU Extension 4-H staff, volunteers and participants have worked for and achieved.

Although the campaign will be used to showcase a number of life skills and traits, Michigan 4-H will join the national movement in 2016 to highlight a key asset 4-H helps to grow: true leaders. In addition to being the theme for the 4-H Day at the Breslin event, 4-H Grows True Leaders will also be the theme of the 2016 4-H Exploration Days. Michigan 4-H will be working throughout the year to highlight the many true leaders in our own state that were grown through 4-H.

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Additional inductee to the 4-H Hall of Fame

Last week, we wrote about how former state director of Michigan 4-H Mike Tate was inducted into the National 4-H Hall of Fame. We also highlighted the accomplishments of several other Michigan recipients, including Janet BlanchardLeah RitchieArne Kettunen and Russ Mawby. It was brought to our attention that, even though he was not featured on the National 4-H Hall of Fame website, another Michigan recipient was Melvin Thompson, who received the national award in 2012.

He worked as a 4-H agent in Monroe County, before taking a role with the National 4-H Council, where he stayed until retirement. He became associate director of 4-H on the national level in 1968, and later was promoted to director of 4-H’s international programs. He served as president of the Michigan 4-H International Association and was president of the International 4-H Youth Exchange Association of the USA twice.

Congratulations, Melvin!

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4-H’ers given challenge to innovate

A growing population puts an increasing demand on agriculture to feed the world. Who better to look for new ways to solve the problem than our young people? The National 4-H Council and Monsanto recognize the creative minds and natural inclination of youth to help others. The two organizations together created a new initiative to get today’s kids interested and involved in agriculture. The 4-H Ag Innovators Experience will not only spark enthusiasm but also help youth develop skills that would help them succeed in future agriculture-related careers as well as careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). And these future farmers and scientists may be on their way to solving the world’s hunger problem.

The 4-H Ag Innovators Experience is being piloted in eight states and Michigan is one of them. Michigan 4-H Youth Development received a $15,000 grant to fund the program. Michigan State University Extension educator Betty Jo Nash coordinates the program for our state.

 Three teen 4-H members attended training this spring at the National 4-H Youth Conference Center in Chevy Chase, Maryland, just outside of Washington, D.C. The teens will in turn train other teens as well as local 4-H clubs. In the end, a thousand youth will have participated in Michigan and as many as 8,000 are expected to participate in the eight states taking part in the initiative.

 The pilot program involves the “Fish Farm Challenge.” Participants will engineer a simulated fish-food distribution system using limited resources. Ultimately, they should recognize the value of aquaculture while stimulating innovative approaches to a real-world problem – ensuring farm-raised fish have equal access to food. After completing the challenge, participants can create a video to show their ideas to their local communities. Four winners of $2,500 each will be chosen. Look for further details about the video contest on the National 4-H Council website after June 1.

 Read more in this Agriculture and Natural Resources Communications article: http://anrcom.msu.edu/anrcom/news/item/michigan_youth_to_participate_in_the_4_h_ag_innovators_experience

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Follow these tips to promote your ‘baby’: Part 3

The last two Spotlights offered real-life examples of how some of our Michigan State University Extension colleagues have successfully marketed their curriculum resulting in at least moderate increases in sales of the product in the MSU Extension Bookstore. Today, I’d like to offer my final example.

Extension program leaders Janet Olsen and Karen Pace wrote Be SAFE: Safe, Affirming and Fair Environments (HNI101). The curriculum is designed to help young people aged 11 to 14 and adults work in partnership to create environments that are physically and emotionally safe.

The curriculum has sold well in the MSU Extension Bookstore with 70 percent of sales coming from outside Michigan.

Janet said, “Karen and I have been quite intentional about our marketing efforts, and we think that there are multiple aspects of our overall program development and marketing that have contributed to good sales.”BeSafe-Cover-BookstoreThumb

For starters, the two did not just develop the curriculum because the subject interested them. They created it when seeing a need for research-based bullying prevention education within out-of-school time settings. As they created the curriculum, they paid particular attention to research from CASEL (Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning), which stressed that effective after-school programs that promote social and emotional learning are sequenced, active, focused and explicit (which also spells SAFE). Making connections between the Be SAFE curriculum design and the findings from CASEL has been an important aspect of marketing the value of the material.

Early in the process, they focused on cross-institute partnerships and capacity-building. Although the Be SAFE initiative was developed within the Health and Nutrition Institute Social and Emotional Work Team, they began building connections with staff in the Children and Youth Institute. As soon as the curriculum came off the presses in January 2013, they offered workshops to build the capacity of staff to address issues of bullying within their communities and to use and market the curriculum as a tool for addressing these issues. They also developed flyers designed to make local marketing easy to carry out. They currently offer mini-grants staff can use to help program sites put the curriculum to work.

They’ve promoted Be SAFE at a wide variety of youth- and health-related conferences across Michigan and the country. Some of these have been Extension-related (such as the National Extension Conference on Volunteerism and the Priester National Extension Health Conference), and many have been through external groups and organizations (such as Girl Scouts, the Michigan AfterSchool Association and the Childhood Trauma Practitioner’s Assembly). They always provide participants with copies of the curriculum flyer, as well as flyers for additional Be SAFE educational workshops. They always make sure they tell people to download a free PDF of the introduction to the Be SAFE curriculum from the MSU Extension Bookstore site. They also stress that the curriculum is available in multiple formats (print, flash drive and CD-ROM).

They’ve offered webinars about bullying topics “bookended” by information about Be SAFE. They’ve marketed these webinars through the local and statewide networks of MSU Extension staff members, as well as through the eXtension website and national Extension youth- and health-related Listservs. The recordings of the webinars are available for purchase through the MSU Extension Bookstore.

They use MSU Extension news articles as a marketing tool. As they write news articles about bullying and related issues, they often include a final paragraph that connects with the Be SAFE initiative and that highlights the curriculum. For example, a recent article about cyberbullying included three pertinent links: the Be SAFE program web page, the Be SAFE curriculum page in the MSU Extension Bookstore and the Events registration site for a recent webinar about cyberbullying.

They offer continuing education units for their workshops, which helps them reach broader audiences. They have worked with the Michigan Social Work Continuing Education Collaborative to have the Be SAFE-related workshops approved for continuing education hours. This has allowed them to have their approved workshops listed on the collaborative’s website, which is accessed by large numbers of social workers who need ongoing education hours for their licensing requirements.

Karen and Janet worked to get Be SAFE included in a nationally sold publication produced by the National 4-H Council titled A Guide to Bullying Prevention Programs. It talks about Be SAFE as an important resource to address issues of bullying.

As you can see from all three examples I’ve talked about, trying a variety of marketing methods can lead to successful sales of your product. Find some that work for you.

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4-H Great Lakes & Natural Resources Camp recognized as one of top 4-H science programs, report on study released

We knew all along that Michigan State University Extension’s 4-H Great Lakes & Natural Resources Camp is a great pre-college program for kids to learn through outdoor hands-on experiences and have fun in the process. Others have noticed as well. In 2008, the annual seven-day camp held on the shores of Lake Huron in Presque Isle, Michigan, was named as a 4-H Program of Distinction. In 2009, it won the National 4-H and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Natural Resources Conservation Education Award.

 In 2011, it was selected out of 70 nominations of promising science programs through a structured process of nominations and vetting as one of eight top science programs in a National 4-H science program in-depth case study. The study was part of the 4-H Youth Development Program’s National Science Initiative evaluation funded by the Noyce Foundation through a grant to National 4-H Council.

A new report was recently released on the case study. “Priming the Pipeline: Lessons from Promising 4-H Science Programs,” written by Derek Riley and Alisha Butler from Policy Studies Associates, features the camp and the seven other selected science programs. It covers practices in the following areas: youth outreach and recruitment, staff and science volunteers, professional development, science curricula and pedagogy, youth development and attitudes toward science, partner organizations and resource support, program evaluation, and program sustainability and scale-up.

Senior program leader Judy Ratkos serves as camp administrator and co-directs the camp with 4-H volunteer Bob Patterson.

Judy said, “It is truly an honor for the staff and volunteers involved in 4-H Great Lakes & Natural Resources Camp to have it recognized as one of the top 4-H science programs in the nation. To have it held up as a model for other youth science programs – both within and outside of 4-H – creates awareness that MSU Extension can help lead the way in increasing science literacy among Michigan young people and increase the number of youth pursuing postsecondary education and careers in science.

“The lessons shared in this newly released report should be helpful to other 4-H science programs striving to be ‘SET Ready.’ A SET Ready 4-H experience is a program that is framed in science, engineering and technology concepts based on SET standards and intentionally targets the development of SET abilities and the outcomes articulated by the 4-H SET Logic Model,” Judy said.

Congratulations to Judy and her team! They inspire the rest of us to make the best even better.

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National 4-H Council honors Nate Seese with Youth in Action Award

Imagine a 15-year old youth who gets called out to New York City to receive a national award for doing what came pretty naturally to him. Then imagine being that youth on the stage with other honorees, including a famous country singer (Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland) and the executive vice president of a major international corporation (Jim Borel of DuPont). I would have a hard time imagining what it would be like to be that youth, but I got to see Kent County 4‑H member Nate Seese have that experience on Tuesday night when he received the 2012 4‑H Youth in Action Award at the third annual 4-H Legacy Awards Gala hosted by National 4-H Council.

 I’ve told Nate’s story on several occasions in Spotlight, so today I’d like to spread the spotlight a bit further to tell you a bit about Nate’s family, parents Christine and Kevin Seese and grandparents Jeanne and Louis Kiesling.

 Youth like Nate don’t just happen, and no one should think that 4-H is what made him special. Obviously it begins at home, and I was honored to meet Nate’s parents and grandparents at the National 4-H Gala. His mother, Christine, was born and raised on a farm in New Jersey. His father, Kevin, has worked in agribusiness on an international stage for much of his career. They actually chose to move to Michigan and to realign their careers so that their children, Nate and Nate’s older sister Hannah, could have a childhood more connected to community, church and the land than they had previously, a childhood much like their parents experienced. It was heartwarming to see that commitment rewarded with their son’s recognition in New York. And then to meet the grandparents who drove up from New Jersey to see their grandson honored was a special treat. Grandfather Louis was a 4-H’er 56 years ago. Jeanne has a wealth of stories about raising kids on the farm. Christine and her siblings grew up working on the farm, and she had some colorful stories to share about planting strawberry seedlings and treating city folk to a rural experience when they visited the family farm.

 Kevin grew up as a youth active in 4-H. He and Christine specifically sought out 4-H as a program that they thought would help them to raise their children with the values and skills they acquired from their own experiences. And Glenda Kilpatrick, Michigan State University Extension children and youth educator, who has worked with Nate and his club and their leaders, was able to witness the impact of Nate’s choices and actions on others who hear his story.

 Nate’s a special young man. And I recognize that Michigan 4-H has thousands of young people equally committed to contribute to their communities. Nate has received a great deal of well-deserved attention for his work and each of the other youth in 4-H deserve that recognition as well. I like telling his story because it captures people’s attention so well. I think the only dry eyes in the room when Nate accepted his award were his own. There’s nothing too haughty about this young man. He represents many more youth and I hope to shine the spotlight on others as well. Michigan has a promising future with youth like Nate Seese and the thousands of others we serve through Michigan 4-H.

 You can read more about the award Nate received at this summary of the National 4-H Gala.

Nate tells his own story here and on the following video:



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MSU Extension works closely with award-winning teacher contributing to environmental education

One of the outstanding things about our organization is the way that our partnerships build capacity in community leaders.

 Bob Thomson, a Sanborn Elementary School teacher in Ossineke, Mich., who works closely with Michigan State University Extension, won a Chevrolet GREEN Educator Award. Through the award, Earth Force and the General Motors Foundation team up to reward educators who integrate quality environmental education into their schools. Bob works with Michigan Sea Grant, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the NOAA Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, 4‑H Youth Development and Huron Pines AmeriCorps program to guide his students in learning about the Thunder Bay watershed beyond the classroom.

 MSU Extension is connected with Bob Thomson’s work in three ways: 

  • The Northeast Michigan Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative (NE MI GLSI) initially supported Bob’s work. This is a regional collaborative network, part of a statewide place-based education programming network supported by the Great Lakes Fishery Trust. Michigan Sea Grant, partnering with 4-H, facilitated the early planning discussions dating back to 2006 in establishing this regional northeastern Michigan network. Today, Sea Grant and 4-H continue to serve as leadership partners in facilitating the NE MI GLSI work in our region. 
  • The Toyota-supported 4-H2O Project, a water science and education initiative, supports Bob and his work. The Toyota 4-H2O Project is funded by a grant from Toyota to National 4-H Council and the Michigan 4-H Foundation. Sea Grant and 4-H partners locally, co-coordinating 4-H2O efforts with the help of Extension educators Sienna Suszek and Melanie Chiodini, Extension program associate Tammy Barrett and Extension program instructor Les Thomas. 
  • Sea Grant is a direct partner to Bob’s project, supporting Great Lakes fisheries and aquatic invasive species studies conducted with his class. Brandon Schroeder, Northeast Michigan District Sea Grant Extension educator, serves as a resource expert to his class and participates in several of their exploration field trips.

 Brandon shares about Sanborn’s place-based water science education partnership, “What’s most exciting is that MSUE has been able to directly support Bob’s class through different yet complementary angles, strategically bringing to the school partnership ‘table’ both 4-H Youth Development (focused on enhancing youth learning) teaming up with Michigan Sea Grant (fostering Great Lakes science education and engagement). This reflects another great example of collaboration between two MSU Extension programs and expertise, and Bob’s class has benefited greatly as a result!”

View this video featuring Bob’s class as one of several school projects of the NE MI GLSI:

 See the October 2011 edition of “Upwellings,” a quarterly Sea Grant publication, to read more about Bob and his relationship with Sea Grant. The newsletter featured his work as an exemplary model of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education programming. (See page 5.)

 Read this fact sheet for details about fifth and sixth grade students from Sanborn Elementary studying the Thunder Bay watershed through the help of these collaborations.

 These partnerships are great examples of how our work branches out, enabling others in the community to improve lives.

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Kent County 4-H’er joins the Revolution of Responsibility

In a recent Spotlight article, I talked about the 4-H Revolution of Responsibility, National 4‑H Council’s movement for positive change, challenging kids to make a difference and take responsibility for community problems and issues.

 Nate Seese, a 4-H’er from Byron Center in Kent County, is taking on responsibility in a big way right in his own community. Nate raises and shows sheep and hogs as a 4-H project. Usually, a 4-H’er involved in this type of project would auction off the animals at fair and then keep the profits. But Nate saw a need to help hungry people in his community and stepped up to do something about it. He put together a buying group consisting of local business owners and community members to buy the animals at auction. The group lets Nate keep the animals so he can donate the meat to the Buist Community Assistance Center, a local food pantry. After taking the animals to Byron Center Meats (the company donates its time and services to process the meat), Nate was able to donate 500 pounds of lamb and pork to the center this year.

 Nate says, “4-H has taught me that we can’t just sit back and wait for somebody to take the lead. We have to take the lead if we want to make a change.”

 Michigan State University Extension 4-H Youth Development is also taking the lead in the revolution, developing responsible leaders for the future.

 Agriculture and Natural Resources Communications staff members Kraig Ehm, Steve Evans and Michelle Lavra created a video featuring Nate’s story. View the video:

 The video was shared at the 2011 NAE4-HA (National Association of Extension 4-H Agents) Conference held Oct. 24–28 in Nebraska. The video will be posted on the National 4-H Revolution of Responsibility site.

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Revolution of Responsibility calls 4-H’ers to lead the way for positive change

So often, people look to others to take responsibility for the world’s problems. It’s easier to go about our business and let somebody else step in. But National 4-H Council is working against this attitude of non-involvement and lack of concern with a new movement for positive change, the 4-H Revolution of Responsibility. Dr. Julie Chapin, director of the MSUE Children and Youth Institute, gave a description of this campaign during our MSUE Redesign call on September 26.

 4-H youth are starting a revolution for doing the right thing – right here in our own state, where they’re making a measurable difference in their communities. Michigan State University Extension 4-H Youth Development is guiding youth to identify problems in the community and then work on solutions to those problems through responsible action. All over the state, 4-H members are volunteering to tend community gardens, lead recycling efforts, visit senior centers and much more.

 During National 4-H Week, Oct. 2–8, you’ll be hearing about the ways 4-H youth are meeting the responsibility challenge. Various activities and events will take place throughout the state to celebrate.

 Read more about the Revolution of Responsibility here.

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Agriculture/Agribusiness Institute well represented at NACAA

I had the privilege of attending the Annual Meeting and Professional Improvement Conference (AM/PIC) of the National Association of County Agricultural Agents (NACAA) in Overland Park, Kan., this week. It was a great conference for all attendees but particularly rewarding for me to see the tremendous involvement of our Michigan State University Extension colleagues in the association and conference. The Michigan Association of Extension Agents (MAEA) is the Michigan affiliate of NACAA. I’d like to share a few big impressions I came home with: 

  • Our colleagues are leaders! Our own Stan Moore, Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute (AABI) Extension educator, has served as president of the national association for the past year, presided over the entire conference with great class and demonstrated a great example of servant leadership throughout the conference. In addition, Charles Gould and Dennis Pennington provided leadership for an astounding amount of professional development opportunities on bioenergy research and Extension programming (two field tours, four luncheon seminars, ten other seminars and the unveiling of a new curriculum on bioenergy). They worked with colleagues from other states in the North Central region and received a grant from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to support their efforts.
  • Our colleagues excel in their work! MSUE professionals came away with awards for distinguished service, leadership and presentations, which I will describe in greater detail in next week’s MSUE Spotlight.
  • Our colleagues are serious! Everywhere I went, I encountered our colleagues engaged in intense discussions, trying to learn more about their craft and sharing their insights with colleagues from across the country.
  • We have some incredible 4-H youth from Marquette County! At the annual 4-H Talent Revue on Monday evening, 11 different acts were presented by 4-H youth from across the country, and the lead-off act was the Goldmine Sisters, Gentian and RiLee Waller, 4-H youth from Marquette County. They performed two bluesy numbers, singing, and playing guitar and mountain dulcimer (first time I’ve heard one of those on a blues number!). Their second song was one they had written about 4-H called “Count on Us,” and they had the crowd singing along with them. We need to get a recording of them performing that on the National 4-H Council’s Join the Revolution of Responsibilitywebsite! Click on this YouTube link to hear the sisters play “Baby Elephant Walk” and “Count on Us” at the 2010 Exploration Days Talent Show.

 Especially at times like this, it’s tempting to scale back on investments in professional development. And for certain, we are reducing our expenditures in this to some extent. But the trip to NACAA’s AM/PIC was all I needed to remind me how critical it is to remain invested at some level in professional development. It keeps us up to date on knowledge and skills and gives us a chance to venture into new areas that we need to address as we help Michigan face the challenges and opportunities ahead. And it’s also great to see how exceptional our colleagues are on a national platform. Congratulations to all who participated! They were Oz-some.

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