Tag Archives: revolution of responsibility

Volunteers and staff make 4-H Exploration Days possible

It was no surprise that participants at this year’s 4-H Exploration Days June 20 to 22 had a blast and they learned while doing it. During this annual event, kids – and they don’t have to be in 4-H – experience college life, staying in Michigan State University dorms and eating in a dorm cafeteria. They learn by doing (the 4-H way) by attending sessions on various topics from aerospace to visual arts and crafts. Free time allows swimming, skating, souvenir shopping, exploring, bowling, basketball and dancing. It’s a tremendous opportunity for fun and learning jam-packed into three days. It also gives young people a chance to develop social and academic skills needed for a successful transition to college and careers.


But it takes a tremendous amount of work and organization behind the scenes to make MSU’s largest pre-college program a success. Registration for the 43rd annual 4-H Exploration Days closed with 2,404 people from all but one of Michigan’s counties. More than 80 percent of those attending were young people 11 to 19 years old. Adults attending included chaperones, field staff and resource people.

Headed by Judy Ratkos, MSU Extension senior program leader, the event takes months of planning and preparation. More than 300 adult and teen volunteers, outside resource people, and MSU Extension county-based and campus-based staff members served as session instructors or helpers for the 204 sessions offered this summer. Nearly 300 adult volunteers registered as chaperones. It’s estimated that volunteers contributed more than 20,000 hours to this year’s 4-H Exploration Days.

This year, the hot weather did not spoil the fun. According to Judy, staff members and volunteers prepare for the possibility of high heat and humidity, providing water coolers and cups in each dorm lobby and water jugs for outdoor sessions and activities to prevent dehydration.

Besides sessions and activities, inspirational speaker and “Evolution of Dance” performer Judson Laipply spoke and performed his “Evolution of Dance” at the Wharton Center for Performing Arts. The performer also spent time with participants at three 4-H Exploration Days sessions.

A time capsule created at the 4-H Exploration Days in 1987 (some of you may remember that) was opened during the Wharton Center show. That year was the 150th anniversary of Michigan’s becoming a state. The capsule contains an item from almost every Michigan county. Visit the 4-H Exploration Days Facebook page to view photos of what was in the capsule.

The 2012 4-H Exploration Days theme was “Join the Revolution of Responsibility.” The Revolution of Responsibility is a movement for positive change in every community in the U.S. involving 4-H’ers taking on the responsibility to make a difference where they live.

We’re grateful to the many volunteers and staff members who made this event possible. It won’t be long before Judy and her team gear up for the 44th 4-H Exploration Days June 19 to 21, 2013. You can bet plenty of lucky kids will be there to learn and have fun.

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Start the year off right at 4-H Day at the Breslin

Last year, I wrote about the success of the 4-H Day at the Breslin with the Lady Spartans. More than 4,500 Michigan 4-H’ers and their families cheered the Michigan State University women’s basketball team on. Don’t miss out on the fun this season. The seventh annual celebration takes place Sunday, Jan. 15, 2012 when the Spartans face the Ohio State Buckeyes. The game starts at 4 p.m. Gates open at 2:30 to the public. However, Gate D will be open at 2 p.m. for the 4-H group.

 Tickets are free for MSU Extension 4‑H youth and their families, 4-H volunteers, and MSU Extension staff and their families. It’s a great bargain, but you must order your free tickets by Jan. 9 in order to attend.

 Order your tickets by clicking on this link: http://web2.msue.msu.edu/basketballtickets

 Please promote the event using this promotional flier.

 This year’s theme celebrates 4-H’s Revolution of Responsibility, a movement for positive change in which 4-H youth make a difference where they live.

 You may enjoy watching the following video portraying a previous 4-H Day at the Breslin:

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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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4-H Tech Wizards ready to launch in Michigan

Michigan State University Extension 4-H has received an $82,000 grant from the National 4-H Council and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) to expand youth mentoring. 4-H Tech Wizards, a small group-mentoring program that matches professionals who work in science, engineering and technology (SET) fields with youth, will be implemented in Ottawa and Wayne counties.

 Reducing and helping prevent juvenile delinquency and school failure, and building supportive relationships are primary goals of the initiative, as well as introducing mentees to opportunities within the SET fields. The program includes an emphasis on building family and community support that will promote college access for youth. It also provides participants with meaningful opportunities to engage in service learning.

 Extension mentoring educators Laura Schleede, Ottawa County, and Edward Scott, Wayne County, will provide local leadership to this initiative. Laura and Ed, along with mentoring specialist Lisa Bottomley and associate program leader Molly Frendo just returned from a grantee training in Washington D.C. The team is ready to launch the program with participation from 120 youth.

 According to Lisa Bottomley, Michigan has offered youth mentoring through 4-H for many more years than most other states, and our Extension colleagues across the country are looking to Michigan for support.

 “People really want to learn more about mentoring, and we have the resources,” said Lisa. “In fact, at this very moment I am pulling things together to send to a large group who requested support.”

 Tech Wizards is a program that was developed in Washington County, Ore., and has shown dramatic impacts on a population of youth with high dropout rates from high school. It’s featured as part of the Revolution of Responsibility marketing campaign for 4-H developed by the National 4-H Council. You can learn more about the Oregon project at “Our mouse started a revolution”. I’m sure we can expect great things to happen in this program with the MSUE mentoring team at the helm.

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Day at the Breslin celebrates 4-H

This year’s 4-H Day With the Lady Spartans event was a huge success. On Dec. 5, approximately 4,600 Michigan 4-H’ers and their families from 49 counties packed the Breslin Center helping the Michigan State University Lady Spartans to draw the third-largest crowd in program history with 13,375. The Spartans did not disappoint. MSU’s women’s basketball team beat 17th-ranked Texas 71-57.

4-H’ers from Crawford County led the crowd in reciting the 4-H pledge. Displays set up in the concourse celebrated 4-H in areas such as mentoring; science, engineering and technology; and environmental education, among others. The event was one of the first in the country to launch the new national 4-H campaign, “Revolution of Responsibility.” Posters, tattoos and buttons promoted this movement for positive change.


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