Youth Recognition

A 4-H State Award is the highest honor bestowed on a Michigan 4-H member. 4-H State Award winners become part of an elite group of 4-H youth who have demonstrated the highest level of excellence in learning, leadership, and service.  

The Michigan 4-H State Awards Program provides 4-H members a learning experience where they can develop career skills by using their 4-H experiences to compile a portfolio similar to a professional application while receiving recognition for their 4-H involvement.  The application process will help youth build their skills in communication, literacy, record keeping, and marketability.  The application will require youth to reflect on their past 4-H experiences and provide thoughtful responses.  4-H State Awards recognize youth for their engagement and learning in the 4-H program, focusing on the skills they have gained.  Once completed, a 4-H State Awards portfolio may be a useful tool that can be referenced when completing future job, college, or scholarship applications. 

A select number of 4-H State Award applicants are invited to attend the prestigious 4-H State Award Recognition Event held during 4-H Exploration Days as 4-H State Award finalists.  4-H State Award finalists are selected through an application process that showcases their knowledge, skills and experiences in their chosen 4-H project area.  Participation in the 4-H State Awards Program helps all applicants develop skills to prepare for their future such as communication, time management, goal setting, and record keeping.

Recognition for 4-H State Award winners include a plaque and cash award.  The program recognizes 4-H members in 19 project areas in both junior (13-15 years old) and senior (16-19 years old) age divisions, as well as a group award area (13-19 years old). 

To participate in the 4-H State Awards Program, start by downloading the application and instructions here:

2024 Overview and Instructions for Michigan 4-H State Awards Program &
Mark of Excellence Contest 

2024 4-H State Awards Junior Application (4-H age 13-15)
2024 4-H State Awards Senior Application (4-H age 16-19)
2024 4-H State Awards Group Application (4-H age 13-19)

4-H members should begin working on their 4-H State Award application early.  Although the deadline is April 1, it may take several weeks to complete the application and finalize editing.  The finished portfolio should represent the 4-H member’s best work.  4-H leaders and 4-H county staff are great resources to provide feedback during the application process.  The finalized application is submitted by April 1 at

Applications are carefully reviewed by selection committees and finalists are announced in May. Senior interviews and group presentations are conducted in mid-June using video conferencing.  During 4-H Exploration Days, finalists can participate in sessions.  All finalists are invited to attend the Recognition Program Wednesday during 4-H Exploration Days, where the 4-H State Award winners are announced.

Past Michigan 4-H State Award winners


4-H State Awards Youth Trainings:
Have you ever thought about applying for a 4-H State Award but you just do not know where to start or maybe you have submitted an application in the past but you need suggestions on your cover letter or resume? Consider watching the training videos.


4-H Mark of Excellence Contest

The 4-H Mark of Excellence Contest is a division of the 4-H State Awards Program for 11 and 12-year-old 4-H members. 

To enter, a 4-H member submits an entry (video or journal entry) on the theme, “Because of 4-H I can …” Entries are submitted to the local county MSU Extension office by April 1. County 4-H programs then select up to two youths’ entries as their representatives and submit those names and entries to the State 4-H Awards Committee. For more additional information and instructions, view the 

2024 Overview and Instructions for Michigan 4-H State Awards Program &
Mark of Excellence Contest 

Past Mark of Excellence winners



Project medals

While each county establishes its own criteria for giving these medals, if you are an outstanding member between the ages of 11 and 13, you may be especially likely to be considered for one of the medals which celebrates your excellent work in a particular project area. There is no general application process, but each county may have a process of their own for determining medal recipients.

Michigan 4-H Key Club Award

The 4-H Key Club Award is intended to be the top county 4-H honor, and selections are made at the county level. To be eligible, a 4-H member must:

  • Be 15 years old by the beginning of the project year (September 1)
  • Have completed three calendar years of club work as of January 1 of the current year
  • Have completed 4-H projects in at least two project areas
  • Have completed a teen leadership project
  • Have participated in three regional or state 4-H events
  • Be recommended by his or her 4-H leader

You may download the Application for Michigan 4-H Key Club Award here.

Prudential Spirit of Community Awards

If you are a 4-H’er in 5th to 12th grade who does a lot of volunteer activities, you may want to apply for a Prudential Spirit of Community Award, sponsored by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals. You can apply online at or Applications must be submitted to a county 4-H educator by November 1.