Michigan 4-H receives federal grant to engage young people in sciences

Michigan 4-H is sending more than 30 AmeriCorps members to Michigan communities to run 4-H STEAM Corps programs thanks to grant funding from the Corporation for National and Community Service.

Michigan State University Extension’s 4-H Youth Development has received a grant of nearly $450,000 to involve more young people in science through its 4-H STEAM Corps program. The grant will help support more than 30 AmeriCorps members serving in communities across Michigan to grow youth participation and interest in science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics (STEAM).

The grant was provided by the federal Corporation for National and Community Service, which administers the AmeriCorps national service program. Through AmeriCorps, individuals known as members provide intensive, results-driven service to people and communities in need. The Michigan AmeriCorps program is managed by the Michigan Community Service Commission. Generous community partners match the federal funds that are directed to the program.

“Currently there is a lack of hands-on and engaging programming for students around the STEAM subjects,” said Rachel Puckett, MSU Extension’s 4-H STEAM Corps program director. “4-H STEAM Corps will develop new and enhance existing afterschool programs that will help grow young people’s interest in the sciences and encourage them to pursue STEAM-related careers.”

The AmeriCorps members assigned to 4-H STEAM Corps sites will create or expand 4-H Tech Wizards and 4-H SPIN (SPecial INterest) clubs, which help participants learn about STEAM subjects and engage families in STEAM-related activities.

“How young people spend their time when they are not in school has a tremendous impact on their academic success and their success in life,” said Jake DeDecker, MSU Extension’s state 4-H leader. “By harnessing members' passion for service, 4-H STEAM Corps will bring research-based, STEAM-positive programs like 4-H Tech Wizards and 4-H SPIN clubs to under-served young people, equipping them with skills and abilities and best of all, interest, to pursue future STEAM careers.”

Where to place the 4-H STEAM Corps AmeriCorps members was decided based on community need. Members have already been placed in 16 counties (Calhoun, Genesee, Grand Traverse, Gratiot, Ingham, Iosco, Lapeer, Luce, Macomb, Marquette, Mecosta, Muskegon, Oakland, Roscommon, Sanilac and Wayne). MSU Extension is seeking candidates to fill AmeriCorps positions in another 14 counties (Alcona, Arenac, Bay, Berrien, Cheboygan, Clare, Crawford, Eaton, Jackson, Livingston, Missaukee, Newago, Ogemaw and Wexford). More positions will be advertised as more 4-H STEAM Corps sites in Michigan communities are identified.

In exchange for their service, AmeriCorps members receive a modest living stipend, deferments on qualified student loans, childcare assistance, food assistance and healthcare insurance. More than any monetary compensation, 4-H STEAM Corps members serve because they want to give back to their communities and make a difference in the lives of people in need.

“We are looking forward to a great year with 4-H STEAM Corps and seeing the difference we can make in communities,” said Puckett. “Our hope is to reach more than 3,000 youth with these programs before fall 2019.”

To find out more about Michigan 4-H, the 4-H STEAM Corps and other STEAM-related 4-H programing, contact Rachel Puckett, 4-H STEAM Corps program director, at pucket21@msu.edu.

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