Developing Youth and Communities with Emmet County 4-H

When you support MSU Extension 4-H programs, youth participants learn life skills that prepare them for the workforce

Emmet County Logo

When you support MSU Extension 4-H programs, youth participants learn life skills that prepare them for the workforce – especially for highly sought after jobs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Extension programs help children develop early literacy skills that support school readiness. They learn leadership and decision-making skills in 4-H that increase their likelihood of becoming civically active.

4-H’ers also demonstrate reduced high-risk behaviors such as drug use and alcohol abuse, and they learn to complete tasks, solve problems and seek any help they might need from peers and adults. 4-H involvement also helps participants avoid or reduce involvement with the court system. This helps ensure more young people succeed in school, attend college and contribute to their communities. More successful young people in communities results in greater tax revenues and consumer spending and increases the likelihood that young people will stay in, or return to, their communities.

Michigan 4-H helps to prepare current and future leaders by offering numerous opportunities for leadership development. From the club experience to statewide youth councils, all youth have the chance to serve in a leadership role. Those experiences and various leadership trainings provide youth with skills to last a lifetime and empower them to stand up today as true leaders in their families, schools and communities. In the past year:

  • 18 Emmet County youth received leadership training through the officer mentoring program. Youth spend a year shadowing adult officers in the Market Livestock Association to learn about parliamentary procedure, committee operations, financial accountability and decision making, they serve as junior barn superintendents during fairweek and represent the 120+ youth members of the association at membership and executive board meetings.
  • 15 youth served as officers and/or teen leaders in their individual clubs, and were responsible for conducting meetings, organizing fundraisers, coordinating community service events and supporting the adult leaders with club operations;
  • 25 youth received officer training during a one-day workshop covering parliamentary procedure, record keeping, committee structure, group communications and conflict management. Youth also conducted mock meetings with real-life agendas and issues.
  • Communication is an essential element of every aspect of life – personal and professional. Whether it is written, spoken or visually represented, the way we express ourselves makes a big impact on our daily lives at home, work and play. Youth who practice and enhance their communication skills in adolescence will find these skills to their advantage in future employment and adulthood.

The Emmet County 4-H Program currently has an enrollment of 516 youth in 18 traditional 4-H clubs and 4 county committees. These clubs and committees are supported by 83 adult and 32 youth volunteers.

Our 2018 national recruitment campaign is titled “4-H Grows Here”. Through that campaign, we will be working on volunteer recruitment, the development of 4-H clubs in the northern part of the county, creation of a 4-H alumni data base and an increased enrollment of our 4-H members.

Fall Awards Night is the recognition component of the county program. The Halloween themed event is held each fall for all 4-H families. Membership pins and certificates are presented to youth and adults, prizes are awarded for costume contests (for all ages) and a potluck dinner is shared. The highlight of the evening is the “Volunteer of the Year” award which is presented to an adult volunteer, who has been nominated by their peers for their outstanding contributions to the 4-H program that year.


The 2017 Volunteer of the Year award was presented to Holly Willcome. Holly and her husband Bryon have been co-leaders in the Minnehaha 4-H Livestock Club for 5 years.





Capture35The 2017 4-H Key Club award was presented to Nicole Heckman of Petoskey. The Key Club Award is the highest award a 4-H member can receive at the county level.



Receiving Exploration Days scholarships were: (back row) Katie Kurburski, Rosemary Hoffman, Madelyn Reece, Addison McGuiness and Colin Standish. (front row) Claire Howard, Isabel Northington, Luke Kurburski, Allison Shaw and Kylie Swiger.


4-H Achievement Days 2018 was held on April 27 & 28 at the Emmet County Community Center. The 2-day event is designed to provide 4-H members an interview-type experience and allows them the opportunity to share what they have learned and accomplished in 4-H.

This year, members were interviewed in the areas of personal appearance, junior leadership, visual arts and crafts, market livestock (beef, sheep, swine, veal and dairy), horsemanship, animal husbandry (rabbits, poultry and pocket pets), woodworking, dog care, and more.

During the evening awards program, the personal appearance members participated in a dress revue fashion show and scholarships were presented to members who received the top honors from the interview process.

This year, 13 scholarships, sponsored by community organizations and businesses were awarded. Members used their scholarship award to attend 4-H Exploration Days in June at MSU.

4-H Summer Events:

Capture37In the fall of 2017, Emmet County 4-H’er Ellie Jones was selected as one of 50 recipients of the pre-college college scholarship. Ellie plans to attend MSU in the fall of 2021.

4-H Exploration Days is held on the campus of Michigan State University each June, and provides youth age 11-19 the opportunity to experience life on a college campus. The 4-day event gives over 2,400 4- H members a chance to live in the dorms, experience a college setting, and be self-directing and responsible for getting themselves where they need to be.

Members can choose from over 200 classes when they register for this event. Registration begins in mid-March and over 1,000 youth signed up on that first day.

This year, 22 youths and adults attended from Emmet County, as part of a 48 member delegation from Emmet and Charlevoix counties. Participants traveled by bus to campus, stayed in the dorms, participated in classes and workshops and attended the state 4-H awards ceremony.

The event is designed as a pre-college experience, and youth who will be entering the 8th - 10th grades following their involvement at Exploration Days are eligible to apply for a $ 2,000.00 scholarship, which will be applied toward the student’s first year at MSU as a degree-seeking student.

How do we grow true leaders ?

Here are just a few of the many delivery methods utilized in the our county 4-H Youth Development Program:

4-H Clubs:

4-H members participate in a variety of projects through their 4-H club. Our list of projects currently include: Livestock, Horsemanship, Visual Arts and Crafts, Animal Science, Community Service, Gardening, Food Preservation, Folk patterns, Citizenship, Leadership, Character Education, Personal Appearance, Shooting Sports, Financial Literacy and Outdoor Education, by engaging in individual projects, 4- H members learn responsibility, time management skills, how to meet a deadline, financial accountability and resiliency.

4-H Summer Camps:

Great Lakes Natural Resources Camp is a week-long camp held at Camp Chickagami for youth aged 13-15. The camp provides handson learning in science exploration, leadership, careers and recreation related to Michigan’s Great lakes and natural resources. Michigan teens participate in science sessions related to local woodlands and wildlife, invasive species, wetlands, watersheds, fisheries and more.

Michigan 4-H Animal and Veterinary Science Camp is for youth (aged 13-16) who are interested in exploring animal and veterinary science related projects and activities. This five-day pre-college program held at Michigan State University is a partnership with the Michigan 4-H, MSU Department of Animal Science and MSU College of Veterinary Medicine. Youth explore fields relating to animal and veterinary medicine, and participate in numerous hands-on learning activities. Emmet County’s six participants gained animal handling experience and had the opportunity to visit and explore MSU farms and facilities. Throughout the week, teens worked their way through a veterinary science case study as a team and created a presentation to be critiqued by veterinarians. This is a fun and interactive camp that allows youth to conduct activities, ask questions and problem-solve. Additionally, this camp helps youth explore the many animal-related career fields while reflecting on their experiences and community programs.

4-H Summer Clinics:

Each year the 2-county livestock association and the 2-county horse council plan educational animal science events for their membership. This year, the livestock group sponsored workshops and clinics in the areas of animal selection, nutrition, emergency first aid, record keeping, communication skills, character education, animal showmanship, and preparing for the fair. Over 200 young people attended these clinics held at the Emmet County Fairgrounds.

The horse council sponsored horse shows and clinics for their membership as well. Clinics covered horsemanship and riding skills, sportsmanship, horse health, hoof trimming, equipment for various riding styles and career exploration. Horse members from all over northern Michigan attended the monthly horse shows and each local clinic had between 30-50 members in attendance. All of these horse events were held at the county fairgrounds.

Emmet-Charlevoix County Fair

Capture38For the past 113 years, the Emmet County 4-H program has been involved in the county fair. The kids and exhibits have changed and the animals certainly look different, but the fun and excitement of exhibiting projects, riding the carnival rides and meeting up with friends still has an appeal that has no match.

At the 2018 fair, 4-H was well represented. We had over 300 animals on exhibit, with another 1,500 still exhibits in the Community Center, displayed in creative club exhibit booths.

The week began on Sunday, August 18th with the arrival and judging of the 4-H projects, and continued on Sunday the 19th with the arrival of the animal exhibits. The shows began on Monday afternoon and continued through Saturday the 25. All tolled, we had 48 large and small animal classes over 6 days. Our 4-H’ers are kept very busy between their shows, barn duty, animal chores and of course, riding the rides!

We want to thank the Emmet-Charlevoix County Fairboard and the Emmet County Commissioners for their continued support of our program and the opportunity to participate in what many youth say is the highlight of their summer and one that they remember forever.



Did you find this article useful?