Jael Tombaugh and Maezie Nettleton receive 2021 MSU Extension Key Partner Award

During the annual Fall Extension Conference held virtually on Sept. 28, MSU Extension honored Jael Tombaugh and Maezie Nettleton for their significant diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts for MSU Extension 4-H.

Michigan State University Extension awarded Jael Tombaugh and Maezie Nettleton with a 2021 Key Partner Award on Sept. 28. The Key Partner Award recognizes those that have made significant contributions to support and promote MSU Extension programs.

Jael Tombaugh (she/her) and Maezie Nettleton (she/they) have been youth members of Michigan 4-for 8 years. They each have been an important part of their county 4-H programs, served on the State Youth Leadership Council, and are the founding members of the Michigan 4-H LGBTQIA+ Alliance. As youth leaders and trailblazers in Michigan 4-H, they have influenced not only the 4-H program but also the efforts of Michigan State University Extension as it creates a sense of belonging for the LGBTQIA+ community.

Jael attends Albion College, majoring in pre-veterinary medicine with a minor in business. Jael has been involved in many 4-H project areas and groups at the local, county, state, and national levels. She is currently a peer advisor for the Michigan 4-H State Youth Leadership Council. Maezie attends MSU where they are pursuing a bachelor’s degree in horticulture with minors in sustainable agriculture and food systems, environmental science and sustainability, and educational studies. Maezie has participated in multiple state and national events, served as a counselor for the UP 4-H camp, and has been a part of many other 4-H activities. She was a panelist for the LGBTQIA+ session during Fall Extension Conference 2020.

In 2020, Jael and Maezie attended the National 4-H True Leaders in Equity Institute on behalf of Michigan 4-H. Through their work as a part of the institute, they identified a need to support youth in the LGBTQIA+ community in Michigan 4-H. Their work created the Michigan 4-H LGBTQIA+ Alliance, the first group of this type nationally in 4-H. Jael and Maezie worked with staff to create the alliance and publicly launched the teen leadership team in April 2021. Although this group is just getting started with 16 teens from across Michigan, these teens have expressed appreciation for a space for them to feel welcome and accepted.

The two have clearly established themselves as true leaders within their clubs, communities, and the state. They are valuable partners in MSU Extension’s and 4-H’s momentum toward greater diversity, equity, and inclusion.

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