4-H members inspire over 5,000 people to complete service in 75 Michigan counties with #DaretoServeChallenge

Members of the Michigan 4-H State Youth Leadership Council launched the #DaretoServeChallenge to help motivate others to complete at least one act of community service during April as part of the 4-H True Leaders in Service initiative.

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Photo by Nathan Lemon on Unsplash

More than 5,000 Michigan 4-H members, volunteers, alumni and staff completed acts of service in their community between April 1–31, 2019, as part of the inaugural Michigan 4-H Dare to Serve Challenge. Participants in the #DaretoServeChallenge completed more than 100 community service projects in 75 of Michigan’s 83 counties.

The Dare to Serve Challenge was conceived, planned and launched by a group of three members of the Michigan 4-H State Youth Leadership Council—Allie Purves of Oakland County 4-H, Amy Saxton of Kalkaska County 4-H and Jael Thombaugh of Eaton County 4-H—who worked in partnership with Michigan State University Extension staff. Annually, during the month of April, 4-H members across the country unite in making a collective positive impact in their community as part of the annual 4-H True Leaders in Service initiative, led by National 4-H Council.

While many Michigan 4-H members have participated in the True Leaders in Service initiative in past years, members of the Michigan 4-H State Youth Leadership Council hoped to expand participation in community service significantly among members of the Michigan 4-H community during the month of April. They set a goal of having at least one community service project completed in every county.

In addition to inspiring others to complete acts of community service across the entire state of Michigan, Purves, Saxton and Thombaugh also led efforts in their own local communities. Saxton planned and provided leadership for a community service project that collected items for the local baby pantry, resulting in a donation of over 1,300 diapers, 20 containers of baby cereal, seven cases of baby wipes, 10 packages of formula, six packages of baby food, clothing and over $100 in cash. Thombaugh led a community service to spread awareness and help animals in need in her community by collecting items and donations for Rosey’s Kennel and Rescue.

Community service projects were completed in counties across Michigan as part of the 2019 Dare to Serve Challenge. Here are a few examples of the types of service projects that were held.

  • Antrim County: Youth and adult volunteers from A Backyard Bunch 4-H Club, in partnership with the Elk Rapids Lions Club, purchased and set up chairs, benches, stools and decorations, and transformed a space in the Elk Rapids High School from a storage room with tables and filing cabinets into a welcoming and comfortable space for the school counselor to meet with students who have experienced grief and trauma.
  • Branch County: Adult and youth members of the Branch County 4-H Leaders’ Council made cards to thank veterans for their service and delivered the cards to vets at the Battle Creek Medical Center Veterans Hospital.
  • Clinton County: CountrySide Survivors 4-H Club members and volunteers raked leaves, picked up trash and cleaned up around headstones to make each plot look nice at the Union Cemetery in St. Johns, Michigan.
  • Delta County: Sewing Up A Storm 4-H Club members made a dozen blankets for dogs and cats for their community service project.
  • Houghton County: Houghton and Keweenaw 4-H program members threw an Easter party for residents at senior center homes.
  • Ingham County: Ingham Sharpshooters 4-H Club members made fleece tie blankets for a local women and children’s shelter.
  • Jackson County: In-Betweeners 4-H Club members led a roadside trash pickup, resulting in 22 bags of garbage alongside the road leading to the Tractor Supply Company store in Jackson, Michigan.
  • Lenawee County: 15 teen members of the Lenawee County 4-H Small Animal Board spent two days educating third graders about poultry, rabbits and goats as part of Project RED (Rural Education Days). Project RED reaches over 600 elementary students in the community.
  • Marquette County: Marquette County Community Service 4-H Club members teamed up with the Marquette County Cares Coalition to educate the public (primarily teens and their parents) about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse. The club provided instructions on a variety of ways people can calm themselves when feeling anxious and stressed.
  • Montcalm County: Winfield Hustlers 4-H Club members cleaned up a three-mile stretch of Amble Road, something they do twice a year.
  • Oceana County: Backyard Critters 4-H Club members made bandana quilt lap blankets and delivered them to and spent time visiting with residents of their local nursing home.
  • Ogemaw County: Boss Hogs Swine Club members volunteered their time at a benefit pancake meal that was set up to raise funds for a local child in need of a heart transplant.
  • Clair County: Rustic Ramblers 4-H Club members and their families spent their Easter holiday delivering meals on wheels to homebound senior citizens in their county.
  • Tuscola County: Youth 4-H members organized and led a Cass City Hunger Summit, during which 50 Cass City residents came together to brainstorm and develop action steps for making their community more food secure.

These service projects, and the many other projects that were completed across the state of Michigan during the 2019 Michigan 4-H Dare to Serve Challenge, highlight how members of the Michigan 4-H community value and practice service to their community. The next Michigan 4-H Dare to Serve Challenge will begin on April 1, 2020, in conjunction with the National 4-H True Leaders in Service initiative.

For those who are ready to start planning a meaningful service project for their community, Michigan State University Extension and Michigan 4-H provide a variety of resources to help anyone plan a successful community service project. The 4-H program coordinator in your county is also an excellent resource to help you connect with volunteer and service opportunities that may be available and needed in your own community.

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