Dickinson County investing in Dickinson County youth with 4-H and MSU Extension 2018

MSU Extension's 4-H program has impacted nearly 500 youth in Dickinson County.

In Dickinson County 4-H, we believe in the power of young people. By providing opportunities to learn and lead, 4-H helps youth become informed and engaged community members. While exploring new topics and activities in an experiential way, youth build the skills they need for life.

4-H Proud Equestrian Program is an annual event that takes place every August at the Dickinson County Fairgrounds in Norway Michigan. This program is for youth and young adults ages 5- 26 who have special needs. We usually have about 35 riders who participate in the program each year. In addition to the riders, we have many 4-H adult leaders and 4-H youth club members who serve as volunteers during this event. This program is designed to improve balance, posture, coordination, confidence, self-esteem and social growth of riders. The volunteers gain a greater awareness and understanding for those who have disabilities. They also learn responsibility, the value in hard work, the importance of working as a team and giving back to the  community. Riders, volunteers, sponsors, donors (including horse donors) are rewarded with certificates, medals and prizes.

Beyond the excitement of learning something new through a project, youth have the opportunity to participate in leadership conferences, travel the world, become involved in their community through service, and meet new friends in a safe and comfortable setting. A young person’s experiences in 4-H makes a difference for a lifetime by allowing them to grow and appreciate the importance of being a good citizen, strong leader and person of character.

Leaders also help youth achieve their personal goals and provide encouragement and a support system. The relationships built among adult volunteer leaders and youth also have lasting effects. From 4-H experiences, youth gain important leadership, citizenship and life skills that can be applied to daily living, used in their community, in future jobs or when they continue their education. Although it may be years before a youth realizes and truly appreciates the influence of the 4-H leader that served as positive adult role models, one can be certain that volunteer leaders are truly making a difference for life.

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