Young people are matched with a trained, caring mentor who provides friendship and support to help them navigate life and make healthy life choices.
Formal mentoring matches caring individuals with young people to provide support, friendship, reinforcement and constructive examples.
Mentoring is also a partnership between the mentor and mentee for the positive development of the mentee. The mentee is not reduced to a recipient role. The mentee is an active participant and decision maker in his or her development. This allows an emotional transaction between them to occur with bonds of mutual trust and respect at the core of each relationship.
Youth need caring, nurturing, open and encouraging people in their lives. It is paramount to their psychological development that youth, especially at-risk and underserved children, have someone in their life to provide positive support to help them realize their potential.
Many youth have a desperate need for enduring contact with positive adult role models. Youth need to be guided, supported, prized and nurtured. Mutual trust, respect and awareness of being valued are key components for an emotional bond to occur between the mentee and mentor.
The intimate connection that can form between the mentor and the mentee helps reinforce positive perceptions of self-esteem and self-worth in youth. Mentoring is a tool for positive youth development. It can help improve grades, develop communication skills, enhance leadership abilities and encourage civic values and participation.
4-H Youth Mentoring offers a variety of program models to meet the needs of different communities. 4-H mentoring opportunities in Michigan include:
4-H believes all youth need positive, caring, nurturing adults to reach their optimum potential in Head, Hands, Heart and Health. Michigan 4-H Youth Mentoring offers planned mentoring programs for youth aged 5 to 19 that spotlights one-on-one, peer and small-group mentoring models.
Mentoring programs are not new to Michigan 4-H and MSU Extension. 4-H has a long history of establishing and supporting ongoing, positive and nurturing relationships between youth and adults. Michigan 4-H Youth Mentoring utilizes Michigan 4-H Youth Development’s expertise, infrastructure and resources as part of a larger community-based effort.
4-H mentoring programs do not exist to compete with nor take away mentors, mentees or resources from other mentoring or youth development programs. 4-H mentoring programs strengthen mentoring efforts for families, neighborhoods, communities and cities throughout Michigan by extending the resources of Michigan State University Extension to address this important need.
MSU Extension youth mentoring programs include Michigan 4-H Youth Mentoring, Journey 4-H Youth Mentoring, 4-H Tech Wizards, Wayne County 4-H Mentoring, STOMP, Key Mentoring, Macomb County Mentoring, Osteochamps, Montmorency 4-H Mentoring, Journey 4-H: The Outdoor Challenge, Clinton County 4-H Mentoring and 4-H Tribal Youth Mentoring.
Prison Fellowship International. (2007). Communities of Restoration (APAC). Washington, DC. Author. Available at www.pfi.org.
Tierney, J.P., & Grossman, J.B. (with Resch, N.). (2000). Making a Difference: An Impact Study of Big Brothers/Big Sisters. Philadelphia: Public/Private Ventures.
Lisa Bottomley, Senior Specialist
4-H Youth Development
Use the month of January as a time to celebrate mentoring relationships and build awareness about the need for more volunteers to make a difference in the lives of youth.