Lapeer County developing youth and communities 2018

Lapeer County 4-H grows confident leaders.

4-H Grows Confident Leaders

Lapeer County 4-H has much to offer youth ages 5-19, including clubs, workshops, scholarships to state and national 4-H programs, college scholarships, achievement awards and recognition. Youth can join any time of the year for one low fee and enjoy exploring virtually endless options of project areas. Lapeer County 4-H also offers partial participation fee scholarships for families needing financial assistance, ensuring that no child is not provided an opportunity to be a member.

Growth in the Community

Lapeer County 4-H served 490 4-H members in 42 traditional, long-term clubs lead by 168 adult leaders. In addition to club efforts, 3,046 youth were reached in the community through a variety of educational experiences. This year, Lapeer County 4-H made efforts to reach out into the community, providing education to youth outside of the traditional long term clubs. 4-H attended local events, such as Lapeer Family Fun Days, Eastern Michigan State Fair and Project Red where youth gained knowledge in a variety of topics from wool spinning, crafts, animal education, and science projects, like making a Grass Head and learning what it takes to grow a plant from seed. Lapeer 4-H also provide school enrichment for 3rd graders at Chatfield School with an embryology project, hatching chicks later to be shown at the 2018 Eastern Michigan State Fair.

Short-term Special Interest Clubs (SPIN Clubs) were created to provide a 6-8 hour course on a specific topic. Local wool spinning experts lead a class to teach youth wool spinning from start to finish. A 4-H leader in the sheep project area also brought in sheep and demonstrated shearing. Youth were then shown how to clean and process the wool into a final product and potential entrepreneurship opportunity. Not only did these clubs educate the youth, but the skills learned in some clubs were shared with the community. The Dog Therapy 4-H Spin Club taught youth to train their dog to become a certified American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen. After passing the test, they and their canine companion worked together to become a therapy dog team, bringing joy into people’s lives by visiting elderly in nursing homes. The Community Service 4-H Spin Club wanted to give back to the community and did so by helping Stone Soup Food Pantry sort food for clients, helped at the “Homeless in Lapeer” event, and provided much needed assistance in cleaning and feeding cats at Paradise Animal Rescue.

Cloverbud Day Camp

It was important for Lapeer 4-H to reach out to the younger population and introduce them to all that 4-H has to offer. Cloverbud Day Camps were created, sharing the best of 4-H with 5-8 year olds. Youth in the community came to experience what 4-H is all about in a day filled with hands-on fun and learning through educational craft and science projects, as well as animals on site to learn about and enjoy, such as a calf, mini ponies, dogs and baby goats.

Lapeer County 4-H Camp

Our camp is held at Camp Lael. Lapeer 4-H offers a day camp (K-1) and an overnight (grades 2 - 6), giving campers the opportunity to have fun through swimming, crafts, songs, games and special activities. All 4-H camp activities are designed for awareness and appreciation of nature and the world around us, focusing on personal development and FUN!

Not only does Lapeer County 4-H Camp provide a fun summer experience for the campers, but also provides 25+ hours of camp counselor training to teens (14 years and older). Teens give back to their community in their counselor roles while also gaining many valuable life skills, including first aid certifications, CPR training, youth development education, team building, planning, teaching, supervising and problem solving.

Taking 4-H skills and applying to our community and beyond

Young Pioneers and Country Kids 4-H Clubs worked hard at the annual Lapeer County 4-H Spring Auction’s Pancake Breakfast fundraiser, and with giving hearts decided to donate all of the earnings to a worthy cause instead of saving for their own club educational activities that year. They learned of the hardships of the Kansas Wildfire’s in Spring of 2017 and chose to utilize the knowledge gained in their club to purchase proper supplies and feed for animals suffering from the natural disaster. Not only did they purchase over $1,000 worth of supplies, but also sought out donations for hay and dog food. It was important enough to them that members of the Young Pioneers 4-H club drove it down themselves in a convoy. They delivered it to the Orphan Calf Relief of SW Kansas 4-H group, which cared for animals affected by the fire. “I wanted our donations to support 4-H kids, because it’s 4-H kids helping 4-H kids,” Thresa Schumitsch, 4-H Leader explained.

As 4-H Challenged Me Club continues to grow, an amazing outcome is being seen. Some youth, who were once members of the club receiving coaching from other 4-H’ers, have now learned skills and have begun coaching other youth, who are also differently-abled. Some 4-H Challenged Me members have also gone on to compete in regular classes at the Eastern Michigan State Fair. It’s a very exciting time to see the growth of the members, both teen coaches and members alike, and also the heart-warming support of the community during the 4-H Challenged Me special show during the fair.

One such special 4-H’er is MacKenzie Johnston, who was born 1lb. 4 oz. at 24 weeks. MacKenzie has an intellectual disability and struggles with social interaction. She was very shy, but with supportive leaders MacKenzie has stepped out of her comfort zone in the past 4 years with 4-H and has been able to talk with people more and more. With 4-H and working with the animals, which she loves, she has acquired the ability to be in front of crowds for the animal judgings. Not only that, she now coaches youth with special needs in the 4-H Challenged Me Club to be the best they can be, even though she qualifies to be a participant of it herself. The benefit of MacKenzie coaching others with special needs creates a unique perspective and empathy that others without special needs may not have.

Passing it on

One of the greatest satisfactions people share about being in 4-H is that they get to pass on what they learn to others and/or the younger generation, be it a project skill, self-discipline, problem-solving, being a humble winner or accepting defeat gracefully. Out of all of the reasons to volunteer or participate as a 4-H member, the ability to pass on what has been shared with you is the most popular answer to the question, “Why 4-H?” More often than not, what one learns is passed on to youth following in another’s footsteps, generation after generation, sometimes spanning decades in families and friendships. It is not the livestock sale check that is most valuable, but rather the satisfaction one receives by being involved in something bigger than themselves and knowing the values and character taught are good and can change the trajectory of one’s life.

One such example is Drew Greschaw, a 4-H’er, and Michelle Peel, his 4-H leader. Michelle Peel, had Drew’s grandparents as her 4-H Leaders in the 80’s. She learned so many skills from them, including patience with her swine project, animal selection, and other important factors when raising swine. Not only were they 4-H leaders, but Drew’s grandfather was also a local agriscience teacher, FFA leader and well respected for his contributions to the youth in Lapeer County. When Michelle became a 4-H leader in swine, she began the 4-H Challenged Me Club, a special club, where 4H’ers are paired up with differently abled club members in order to build skills and work with an animal over the summer. When Drew became a club member, Michelle found great satisfaction in teaching Drew all that his grandparents had taught her when she was a kid. Drew has a rare brain disorder called agenesis of the corpus callosum which causes global delays, a seizure disorder and many autistic characteristics. The 4-H experience has allowed Drew to work on his responsibility and social skills all while feeling like an equal member. His confidence has soared as a result and he can’t wait to have another pair of hogs next year.

Locally raised funds utilized to better our youth

The 2017 Lapeer County 4-H Spring Auction celebrated its 31st year and the Celebrity Autographed Items 4-H Auction 24 amazing years, both of which provide nearly all of the funding to run Lapeer County 4-H program. In addition to supporting local club efforts, funds raised are strategically used to provide scholarships for excellent local, state and national educational opportunities:

Citizenship Washington Focus, Washington, D.C.- an opportunity for 4-H’ers to learn how to be citizen leaders and make a difference in their communities. Participants enjoy a behind-the-scenes look at our nation's capital and the chance to meet members of Congress, develop communication, leadership and citizenship skills through hands-on learning and group activities and build new and lasting friendships.

4-H Capitol Experience, Lansing, MI - an annual four-day conference that helps prepare youth for active citizenship by focusing on civic engagement and public policy.

National 4-H Congress, Atlanta, GA - Five-day event that engages high school aged 4-H members in leadership, citizenship, global awareness, and inclusion. Participants not only have the opportunity to participate in state-of-the art educational workshops and hear from world-renowned speakers, they also have the opportunity to network with other 4-H members from across the United States.

Lapeer County 4-H Camp, Camp Lael, Lapeer - 4-H offers a day camp (K-1) and an overnight (grades 2 - 6), offering campers the opportunity to have fun through swimming, crafts, songs, games and special activities. All 4-H camp activities are designed for awareness and appreciation of nature and the world around us, focusing on personal development and FUN!

Michigan 4-H Exploration Days, MSU campus, Lansing - three day campus-based precollege program that is designed to help youth build the skills they need to successfully transition to college and to life as an adult. Youth participants stay on campus in MSU residence halls and attend action-filled classroom and field trip sessions on a wide variety of topics, including animal science, business & entrepreneurship, international language & culture, performing & visual arts, science, engineering & technology. Nearly 2,000 youth attended Exploration Days in 2017. Post-event evaluations revealed that participating youth gained important life skills like decision making, problem solving, and communication. Youth also reported feeling more prepared to attend college.

4– H Treasurers Training

Research has shown that youth lack necessary financial skills to be successful as adults. MSU Extension has recently released new financial guideline resources for 4-H groups. Funding was acquired that allows staff to provide trainings in counties free of charge. This training was provided in Lapeer County to help adults and students provided an overview of the ‘financial Manual for 4-H Treasurers’.

Specific topics included:

  • Responsibilities of a treasurer
  • Budgets
  • Fundraising
  • Writing checks

There were 9 people who attended and two Lapeer County staff members.

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