Ingham County developing youth and communities 2017

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).

Developing youth and communities

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 is America’s largest youth development organization, providing educational opportunities to over 6 million youth. The 4-H program offers a vast selection of project area topics—science, healthy living, arts, and civic engagement to name a few, all with hands-on experiential learning for youth. Students involved in programs demonstrate reduced high-risk behaviors and learn problem solving skills. They develop social skills and additional peer groups which will help them succeed in school and contribute positively within their communities.

We always welcome new members and new volunteers; if you are interested in volunteering with 4-H, please contact the Ingham County/MSU Extension office at 517-676-7207 or email the Ingham County office at We would be happy to help you enroll today!

4-H develops socially responsible citizens

Each summer MSU Extension and Michigan 4-H provide youth with the opportunity to spend an entire week in Washington, D.C., including a stop in Gettysburg! In 2017, two Ingham County youth were among those who traveled to our country’s capital for the Citizenship Washington Focus convention.

Through a series of speakers, committee work, field trips and social events, participants learn the importance of citizenship and social responsibility and are given the opportunity to explore, develop, and refine skills needed to be an outstanding leader on both a local and national level. With a focus on life-long civic engagement, the youth left with a plan of action to tackle issues facing their own communities.

A 4-H tradition that dates back more than 50 years, this national citizenship and leadership program provides an opportunity to exchange ideas, practice respect, form friendships and share experiences with those from all across the country.

4-H develops innovators

Science-based activities at a young age promote career exploration in the areas of STEM and agriculture while teaching youth life skills. Ingham County 4-H Staff members developed a new partnership with Edgewood Village Apartments to engage at-risk youth in after-school activities to include Financial Literacy, Career Development and STEAM related activities. In 2017, the youth worked alongside MSU Extension 4-H Program Coordinators in engineering, building and launching rockets and manufacturing marshmallow-shooting catapults, all while learning valuable life skills.

4-H develops social skills

Ingham County 4-H Special Interest (SPIN) clubs focus on a specific topic. For example, clubs may focus on archery, baking, livestock or photography to name a few.

In 2017 leaders from 4-H Ingham County conducted two SPIN clubs with Cloverbuds (K-3rd grade) at the Greater Lansing Islamic School. The first SPIN club focused on Engineering & Design and the second focused on Personal Development. Students were engaged in the programming, with an array of races, ethnicities, and nationalities represented. Many students at the school are from families who have come to the U.S. from elsewhere, either as refugees, students, or employees at MSU. The majority of families speak a language other than English at home.

Promoting entrepreneurship

For the second year in a row over 100 hundred Ingham County youth participated in the Still Life Workshop held at Mason’s North Aurelius Elementary School. This workshop is open to all youth regardless of 4-H participation and provides them with an opportunity to explore a variety of projects available through the program and shows them that anyone can be a 4-H member. In 2017, we had nearly 40 different session offerings, including archery, junk drawer robotics, decorative painting, flower arranging, photography, card making, insect pinning, vermicomposting, Rangoli (traditional Indian art) and genetics, just to name a few! The workshop was made possible with the help of 30 adult volunteers who taught sessions, helped with set-up and many other tasks.

At the 2017 Ingham County Youth Fair, 4-H youth were able to showcase their still life projects by entering them into the first ever 4-H Still Life Sale. The sale gave youth who do not have animal projects an opportunity to make money and to gain important business and entrepreneurial experience. Thirty eight youth displayed their projects bringing in over $7,000.00 collectively!

One art piece, a “trash-to-treasures” metal bird, earned one of the youth $550.00. There was a huge crowd spilling out of the Shirley Clark Pavilion and feedback from everyone who attended was great. In order to sell their projects in the sale, participants had to complete an entrepreneurship form that asked questions related to their decision on what to sell and why, the amount of time spent on the project, and the amount of money invested. They also had to submit a copy of their potential buyer letter and a draft thank you letter.

Cloverbud Camp 2017

2017 was the first year for the Ingham County 4-H Cloverbud Camp. The theme was “Rainbow of Food, Fitness and Fun”.

It was a full day program where youth 5-8 years old were invited to participate in a variety of hands on activities that took place around healthy living at the Ingham County Fairgrounds. The camp also provided a leadership development opportunity for Ingham County 4-H teens who acted as the camp counselors for the day.

A highlight of the day was the smoothie challenge. Each small group was challenged to create a delicious smoothie for everyone that included a variety of fruits and 2 cups of fresh spinach leaves. It was surprising to everyone on how yummy the smoothies tasted, even with the spinach!

MSU Exploration Days 2017

MSU Exploration Days is an opportunity to develop social and academic skills needed for a successful transition to college and life as an adult. In 2017, 100 Ingham County youth took advantage of this program.

More than 200 action-filled classroom and field trip sessions were offered throughout the MSU campus and at various off-campus locations. Sessions were taught by 289 content and youth development experts.

This program is designed to:

  • Increase responsibility, confidence, independence, accountability, problem-solving, decision making and time management skills.
  • Increase youths’ communication, citizenship, team work, and leadership skills.
  • Foster participants’ ability to meet new people and make new friends from different places and backgrounds.
  • Develop and expand career and personal interests.

Responsible social media activities

Using social media has become a huge part of the everyday lives of youth and adults. According to “Teens, Social Media and Technology Overview 2015” from the Pew Research Center, 92 percent of teens reported going online daily while 24 percent reported saying they were online almost constantly. In addition, a majority of American adults utilize social media in some form. With so many youth and adults engaging with social media, it is important to think about being responsible online. The online world is not going away and it is an important part of how people interact with each other.

In order to address this need Christine Heverly, Ingham County MSU Extension Children & Youth Educator, developed a new resource called 4-H Responsible Social Media Activities. There are two developed activities. These activities are great discussion points for youth and adults to consider the role of social media in our lives.

Each activity is something a youth or an adult could teach to a group that would help participants build knowledge around being responsible when interacting on social media. The activities are short and can be combined with other activities in the series or done on their own. In addition, each activity has an experiential learning piece and is a free downloadable PDF.

The first activity, Caption This!, has participants create their own captions for various photos that could be shared online. They will explore the concept of how a few simple words can change what people think about a photo online.

The second activity, Online Consequences, explores the various consequences people have faced because of information they shared online. The concept of how a quick “like” of something or a tweet could have potential negative consequences. *Information comes from “Responsible social media activities”, authored by Christine Heverly, MSU Extension.

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