Lapeer County youth takes unique approach to leadership

4-H proven to empower area youth through life skill development.

Ashley Gibbs and her rabbit
Ashley Gibbs and her rabbit

It’s no secret that today’s youth feel pressure. Pressure to excel in school, to go to college, to get a job, etc. How they overcome those pressures, is a true testament to their character. Take Almont native Ashley Gibbs for example.

Gibbs, 16, credits her enrollment in Michigan 4-H, a program of Michigan State University Extension, with helping her overcome adversity and build confidence along the way. The life skills taught through 4-H helped Gibbs learn to work with others, overcome challenges and complete jobs once she starts them.

Gibbs takes advantage of the breadth of programs 4-H offers, from science and agriculture to business and creative arts.

“I got involved in 4-H because of my mom,” said Gibbs. “My 4-H leader was my mom’s friend in high school, so when we moved back to the area, we got involved.”

Today, Gibbs shows poultry and rabbits and is looking to expand her show experience to goats and pigs. She also participates in several indoor projects, such as sewing and crocheting.

“One thing I’ve learned consistently through the program is the importance of listening to other people,” said Gibbs. “A good leader listens to others and what they bring to the table.”

America needs more true leaders focused on today’s challenges, as well as the issues of tomorrow. A recent survey by National 4-H Council found that 71 percent of today’s youth view leadership as something they can practice improve over time. But those same youth need supportive adults to help them along the way.

4-H brings a community together to grow true leaders in today’s youth – helping build confidence, teamwork, curiosity, and resilience.

“My 4-H leaders, Mary and Elizabeth Rayl, have a ton of knowledge they are willing to share with us and we learn a lot from them,” said Gibbs. “They are always willing to help and have even taken in sick animals and helped us care for them.”

Any child can grow with 4-H, an organization that has something for every interest. But 4-H is always looking for adult volunteers and funding to help expand their reach and empower young people through doing. For more information about Michigan 4-H programs and volunteering opportunities, visit the Michigan State University Extension website. 

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