AmeriCorps members are “getting things done” for Michigan 4-H
AmeriCorps members serving with MSU Extension’s Michigan 4-H Tech Wizards program are making a positive impact on youth and communities throughout the state.
As people across the country celebrate AmeriCorps Week, March 7-11, Michigan State University Extension salutes the national service members serving within our own organization. Four AmeriCorps members with Mentoring to Access Corps are dedicating a year of their lives to service with the Michigan 4-H Tech Wizards program and improving the lives of Michigan youth.
AmeriCorps is a national service program in which members pledge to “get things done for America” by providing intensive, results-driven service to individuals and communities in need. Members serve full- or part-time and in exchange for their service, receive a modest living stipend and an education award. More than any monetary compensation, members serve because they want to give back to their communities and make a difference in the lives of those in need.
The four AmeriCorps members serving with Michigan 4-H Tech Wizards – Mark Cowan, Jr., Tony Pell, Rachel Puckett and Chelsea Verhulst – are impacting the lives of many Michigan 4-H members as they support a group mentoring program which matches youth with caring adult mentors to explore hands-on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) projects. Scattered throughout Michigan, AmeriCorps members are “getting things done” in many different ways:
- Mark Cowan, Jr. is in his second year of service with Michigan 4-H Tech Wizards and Mentoring to Access Corps. Initially, Mark helped to grow the reach of programming with youth in military families in Macomb County through a partnership with the Detroit Arsenal Middle School and Teen Program. In his second year, Mark is serving in Wayne County, assisting program sites in Detroit and Harper Woods. “Through his support, we are able to greatly expand the impact of 4-H Tech Wizards in Wayne County,” said Scott Lakin, Michigan 4-H Tech Wizards program administrator. “He has also been instrumental in improving our web and social media presence, ensuring a strong digital presence for the program.”
- Tonya Pell started serving with Michigan 4-H Tech Wizards in Muskegon County this October. She has helped start two new 4-H Tech Wizards sites, one at the Boys and Girls Club of the Lakeshore and the other at Oehrli Elementary School. She is passionate about recruiting youth and adults to help fill the capacity at all three Muskegon County sites. Barb Brow, program coordinator for the Muskegon County 4-H Tech Wizards program said, “Tonya has made herself an indispensable team member of Michigan 4-H Tech Wizards. She is a strong leader who can command a room of 30 middle school students with no problem.”
- Rachel Puckett is currently serving her second year with the Michigan 4-H Tech Wizards program. Located in Oakland and Macomb counties, she is the lead coordinator for programs at Alcott Elementary, Owen Elementary and Webber Media Arts Academy in Pontiac. Rachel is also taking the lead to create a comprehensive mentor manual for adult volunteers who participate in 4-H Tech Wizards. “She has been instrumental in designing STEAM activities for engaging youth with their mentors,” said Lisa Kelley, Oakland and Macomb County 4-H Tech Wizards program coordinator. “Her witty Facebook posts articulate the fun experienced by both the mentors and the mentees.”
- Chelsea Verhulst is serving with the Ottawa and Kent County 4-H Tech Wizards programs. Through her time with Michigan 4-H, she has focused on growing the presence of 4-H Tech Wizards at local colleges and universities. “Chelsea has been a wonderful addition to our team,” said Will Shemer, Ottawa and Kent County 4-H Tech Wizards program coordinator. "Through her positive attitude and interactions in the community, we have increased youth engagement at numerous program sites. We are excited to have Chelsea serving with us and to see how much further she can help us grow 4-H Tech Wizards during the rest of her year of service.”
Michigan 4-H Tech Wizards, Michigan 4-H and MSU Extension are grateful to these members for their service. Because of their commitment and dedication to getting things done, AmeriCorps helps Michigan 4-H Tech Wizards make a difference in the lives of Michigan youth and the next generation of inventors and out-of-the-box thinkers by connecting them with caring adult mentors.