Bay County youth takes unique approach to leadership

4-H proven to empower area youth through life skill development.

Bay County youth, McKenna Rechsteiner
Bay County youth, McKenna Rechsteiner

It’s no secret that today’s youth feel pressure. Pressure to excel in school, to go to college, to get a job, etc. How they overcome those pressures, is a true testament to their character. Take Freeland native McKenna Rechsteiner for example. 

Rechsteiner, 16, credits her enrollment in Michigan 4-H, a program of Michigan State University Extension, with helping her learn responsibility and build confidence along the way. The life skills taught through 4-H helped Rechsteiner learn to work with others, overcome challenges and complete jobs once she started them. 

Rechsteiner takes advantage of the breadth of programs 4-H offers, including science, agriculture, and creative arts, but focuses much of her time on livestock.

“My dad took me to the fair when I was younger and I thought, ‘Wow, this looks like it would be really fun to do,’ and that’s where it started,” said Rechsteiner. “I ended up getting chickens and it just grew from there! I was a little scared when I first started but everyone was so welcoming and helpful.”

During her time in 4-H, Rechsteiner has also taken on leadership roles within her club, serving as treasurer and secretary, which she says helped her develop important skills.

“I have definitely learned leadership skills from 4-H because the younger kids look up to the older kids and want to learn from them,” Rechsteiner explains. “I also learned responsibility and time management by taking care of my animals.”

America needs more true leaders focused on today’s challenges, as well as the issues of tomorrow. A recent survey by National 4-H Council found that 71 percent of today’s youth view leadership as something they can practice improve over time. But those same youth need supportive adults to help them along the way.

4-H brings a community together to grow true leaders in today’s youth – helping build confidence, teamwork, curiosity, and resilience.

“All of my club leaders have pushed me to be my very best and try new things,” says Rechsteiner. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without my 4-H leaders. They are really there for you.”

Any child can grow with 4-H, an organization that has something for every interest. But 4-H is always looking for adult volunteers and funding to help expand their reach and empower young people through doing. For more information about Michigan 4-H programs and volunteering opportunities, visit the Michigan State University Extension website. 

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