Build your future – Put your 4-H experience to work

Michigan State University Extension suggests 4-H project idea for high school-aged youth.

Through career exploration and workforce preparation, I recently completed teaching a new 4-H project in Berrien County that was well received and very successful for the small group of youth involved. “Build Your Future – Put your 4-H Experience to Work” was offered as a six hour county project.

Delivered as three hands-on lessons, participants learned how to explain their 4-H experience in terms of life and employability skills. Members also identified possible job or career interests and were encouraged to weave their 4-H, school and extracurricular experiences together for the creation of a resume and employability portfolio. This project was created in a way that it could be evaluated and/or exhibited through a 4-H achievement event or potentially through a county fair. A summary of the project plan included:

Session I

  • Introduction to the topic and get acquainted activity
  • Purpose of career exploration
  • Viewing your 4-H experience through life skills – mask activity
  • Skills assessment
  • Introduction to portfolios
  • Set the stage for session II

Session II

  • Your 4-H resume
  • Create your resume
  • Set the stage for session III

Session III

  • Overview of portfolios
  • Assemble your employability portfolio
  • Prepare youth portfolio for evaluation
  • Wrap-up

Suggested Evaluation Questions/Statements

  • Why is this type of project important to 4-H members?
  • What is the difference between a 4-H project and a life skill?
  • What is your current Career Pathway?
  • What are the basic parts of a resume?
  • What is the difference between employability and career portfolios?
  • Are a portfolio and a scrapbook the same thing? Why?
  • What types of things are included in a portfolio?
  • Please show me your portfolio.
  • Will you continue to add to your portfolio?
  • Did this project help your understanding of what you may have already learned in school about building your future? Why?
  • Would you like to see this type of project continue? Why?


  • Participants were fully engaged the entire six hours and their enthusiasm was contagious!
  • One participant already used her resume to apply for a job.
  • 100 percent of participants encouraged us to continue this project and to build on it for the future.
  • I witnessed “ah ha” moments as participants began to understand connections between their schoolwork, extracurricular activities and 4-H projects.

On June 24, 2013, I will teach a workshop in Southwest Michigan for adult volunteers to learn how to implement this type of educational project with youth. Watch for a future workshop announcement and for the event to be posted on the Michigan State University Extension website.

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