Blending different backgrounds together is a unique aspects of Michigan 4-H. Differences including people of diverse backgrounds, heritages, and physical and mental abilities are welcome, and encouraged, to join 4-H as a participant or volunteer
Today we find a far richer mixture of family backgrounds, ethnic heritages, and physical and mental abilities in our 4-H membership than ever before. This mixture sometimes presents challenges for volunteer leaders and members alike as they learn to function successfully in this larger picture. But what a terrific opportunity we have to blend our talents into positive outcomes.
No one has yet come up with a sure-fire recipe for success in inclusive programming. However, there are some key ingredients in the base of every good mix:
Once these key ingredients are in place, the programming possibilities are unlimited. In order to offer 4-H experiences and opportunities to everyone and anyone who wants to be involved, we need to do our best to get rid of any obstacles that might keep 4-H from including everyone.
Ron Morley, 4-H volunteer leader in Clare County and assistant superintendent for special education for the Clare Gladwin Regional Educational Service District, offers these quick tips for volunteers who have opportunities to include young people with disabilities in their 4-H club:
When working to make 4-H activities accessible, consider the physical environment. Whether you’re looking for a meeting site that will accommodate a wheelchair user or planning inclusive activities for your 4-H club or group, keep the following tips in mind:
4-H groups that engage in community service give their members a chance to learn what it’s like to help someone else by using their individual abilities. Abilities are found in persons with and without disabilities. Involve 4-H’ers who have disabilities as active participants in your community service projects. Through participating in community service efforts, all 4-H’ers can develop the very qualities that will prepare them to become good citizens and leaders.
For more information on how to get involved as a youth or volunteer, contact your county MSU Extension office or:
Karen Waite, 4-H Youth Equine Specialist
4-H Proud Equestrians Program Coordinator
Michigan State University
1287J Anthony Hall
East Lansing, MI 48824-1111
The Michigan 4-H Foundation has announced grant and award opportunities of up to $1,000 to support local 4-H clubs and county programs. 4-H volunteer leaders, members and staff members may apply for these funds.