Ionia 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).

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 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.

Growing with and serving the local community

Ionia County 4-H’ers were able to give back to the local community in a number of ways during 2017. Reaching out to local law enforcement and hosting a soup dinner are just two examples of 4-H’ers honing the skills that they are learning and meeting needs in the community.

One 4-H club made kits for local law enforcement and were able to deliver them in person. The kits were “very thoughtful and creative, “John Odette, Deputy Director of the Ionia Department of Public Safety, told the Ionia Sentinel-Standard. Haley McLean, Ionia County 4-H Program Coordinator said, “There are so many issues with police right now, and the backlash. The kids wanted to show their support and they thought this would be a good project. The kids had a lot of fun doing this.” Just about every item in the survival kit had an adage attached to it on a slip of paper to encourage the officers. Portland Police Chief, David Kirk, told the Ionia Sentinel-Standard, “It goes right to the officers’ hearts. We are truly appreciative of the relationship we have with the community.”

Around a hundred people attended a Soup Dinner hosted by one of the clubs. 4-H’ers were able to raise money for different nonprofits helping people in poverty. The double benefit of helping out the community and developing skills needed to plan and carry out such events, the clubs are able to spread information about 4-H and recruit new volunteers and participants.

Lessons, skills gained and people impacted by 4-H

Our 4-H youth were busy all year long developing the critical skills and gaining the experience to be leaders in our local communities. Some of the highlights from the year include:

  • Participation in the Ionia Expo – bringing animals and setting up a 4-H barnyard in partnership with the Ionia Chamber of Commerce. Learning how to market the clubs while providing valuable youth experiences at events.
  • Soup Dinner, Annual Bake-Off, Alumni and Friends Dinner.
  • Exploration Days.
  • Participation in the Ionia County 4-H Dairy Camp and Ionia County 4-H Horse Camp with camping and education for the whole family.
  • The Ag Olympics, planned by the Teen Advisory Council

Ionia County 4-H by the numbers:

  • 437 youth enrolled in 36 4-H clubs
  • 97 volunteers
  • 29 youth attended Exploration Days (3 were state award delegates, 2 were Mark of Excellence recipients)

4-H animal science

3rd graders from Ionia Rather Elementary School learned science by participating in a number of fun projects and trainings ranging from chicks to goats through the Embryology Program. They learned to care for and show their animals and learned science along the way.

There were 4 lessons were taught during the 21 day project:

  • Welcome to your new home!
    • Explore the incubator
    • Compare the incubator environment to that of a natural hen hatch
    • Discover parts of the egg
  • Stages of development
    • Explore how the embryo develops and the changes that take place day to Day
    • Candle eggs
  • Home Sweet Home
    • Build a brooder and discuss why it is important
    • Review the hatching process
  • Hatch Day!
    • As the eggs hatch, we create math equations to determine the percentage hatched and % of living chicks

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