4-H youth embark on a "Revolution of Responsibility"

Feeding the hungry. Watching over our lakes. Creating new businesses. You might think these are things for which our politicians are taking responsibility. But the group stepping forward to say, "We are," isn't made up of legislators. They're kids.

September 28, 2011

Feeding the hungry. Watching over our lakes. Creating new businesses. You might think these are things for which our politicians are taking responsibility. But the group stepping forward to say, “We are,” isn’t made up of legislators. They’re kids.

4-H kids, to be exact, and according to the new “Join the Revolution of Responsibility” program, 4-H’ers are being uniquely prepared to take on challenges in their communities – or even at the state level. During National 4-H Week October 2–8, 4-H youth, volunteers and staff members of the Michigan State University (MSU) Extension program will show how 4-H’ers are stepping up to make a difference in their communities by creating a quiet revolution of responsibility.

“Why is it anybody’s responsibility?” responded Birch Run High School 4-H’er Disiree Giffel when asked why it was her responsibility to explore alternative forms of energy. She continued, “If I don’t step up, then what makes anybody else want to step up?” (Watch the Birch Run video.)

As a tender of a 4-H community garden that donates its produce, Ingham County youth and 4-H member Samaura Jones knows all about being responsible.

“You’ve got to be responsible for a garden because next thing you know, if you just turn your back, all your plants could be dead,” says Jones. “It’s something to be proud of, actually.” 

The program she’s in also brings locally grown vegetables to an urban area that doesn’t see much fresh produce. The selling experience gained at the farm market gives kids like Samaura their first taste of what it’s like to run a business. (Watch the community garden video.)

“There are dozens of stories of youth making a difference in their communities. Some are creating new businesses while they’re still in school, doing everything from raising worms for bait or composting to creating and selling custom-made buttons, which adds to our economy,” said Julie Chapin, director of 4-H Youth Development for MSU Extension. “Others may spend time at a senior citizen center visiting with residents, clean up the local park or adopt a river, make blankets for a community hospital, or raise pigs or chickens to donate to food banks and shelters.”

At the state level, youth participating in the Michigan 4-H Youth Conservation Council research environmental issues and present their findings to state legislators. Their efforts have resulted in the passage of at least one new law affecting water quality in the state. 

National 4-H Week events in many Michigan locations will tell the story of how 4-H’ers are helping their communities deal with local issues, while simultaneously developing essential life skills. For information about 4-H events happening in your area, contact your local Extension office.

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