Michigan 4-H sets off statewide community service campaign with launch of Dare to Serve Challenge

Michigan 4-H State Youth Leadership Council members are hoping their Dare to Serve Challenge will motivate others to complete at least one act of community service during the month of April as part of the True Leaders in Service initiative.

Dare to Serve Challenge infograph

Try to imagine what it would look like if over 200,000 Michiganders decided to complete an act of service in their community during a single month. Really. Take a moment and actually try to imagine how much positive impact a giant group of people could spread across our entire state if they all decided to do one thing to improve the lives of others, or their community, in some way during a single month.

A group of youth who serve as members of the Michigan 4-H State Youth Leadership Council and Michigan State University Extension staff have been thinking about this scenario as well, and we have decided to spark a movement that we hope will lead to the completion of a massive amount of community service activities across Michigan during the month of April. It’s called the Dare to Serve Challenge, and if you are one of the more than 200,000 4-H members, leaders, volunteers, alumni or staff members who make up Michigan 4-H, the challenge is being issued directly to you!

During the month of April, 4-H members across the country unite in making a collective positive impact in their community as part of the annual 4-H True Leaders in Service initiative, which is led by National 4-H Council. In April, 4-Hers are encouraged to lend their hands to service in their community in a way that is meaningful to them. While many Michigan 4-H members have participated in the True Leaders in Service initiative in past years, members of the Michigan 4-H State Youth Leadership Council want to expand participation in community service significantly among members of the Michigan 4-H community during the month of April this year.

Three Michigan 4-H State Youth Leadership Council members—Allie Purves of Oakland County 4-H, Amy Saxton of Kalkaska County 4-H and Jael Thombaugh of Eaton County 4-H—are hoping members of the Michigan 4-H community will join them in harnessing the positive powers of peer pressure and social media in order to spread 4-H led community service projects across the entire state during the month of April. Much like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge that went viral and swept across the country in 2014, they hope that the Dare to Serve Challenge will provide members of the Michigan 4-H community with an opportunity to make a positive difference in their community and to spread the impact by inviting—or to be more specific in this case, by “daring”—a friend to complete the challenge as well. Our goal is to have at least one community service activity happen in each of Michigan’s 83 counties during the month of April, which are completed by a member of the Michigan 4-H community.

You don’t have to wait until someone issues the Dare to Serve Challenge to you in order to participate. If you’re ready to serve your community and want to help get the Dare to Serve Challenge started, you can complete your community service activity and then dare a friend to complete a service activity as well during the month of April! Once they complete their community service activity, it’s their turn to issue the challenge and keep the community service momentum growing and moving across Michigan!

Here’s how it works: Join with others, or work on your own, to plan a service project in your community that you think will make a positive difference. Any community service activity (regardless of its size, scope or impact) counts towards the Dare to Serve Challenge. Your project can be something big, like a volunteer event that includes lots of other people and lasts a whole day, or it can be something smaller, like something you complete on your own and takes less than an hour to complete. Once you’ve decided what you’re going to do for your community service activity, make it official by registering it on the True Leaders in Service website and adding it to a map showing all the projects taking place in Michigan.

While you’re doing your community service project, don’t forget to take a selfie, have a friend take an action shot or make a short video. After you’ve completed your service activity, share your photo or video on social media and tag a Michigan 4-H friend who you want to challenge next for the Michigan 4-H Dare to Serve Challenge. Use the hashtags #MI4H #DaretoServeChallenge and #TrueLeaders to connect you and your friends with other 4-Hers who are making a positive difference during the month of April as participants in the Dare to Serve Challenge.

If you are the receiver of the Dare to Serve Challenge from a friend, but you choose not to complete a community service activity during the month of April, you may instead choose to offer your support to the initiative by making a donation to Michigan 4-H. Through the Michigan 4-H Foundation website, you may choose to designate your contribution towards the 4-H program in your county or to one of the multiple funds that support 4-Hers across the entire state.

Ready to get started, but need some ideas? Michigan State University Extension and Michigan 4-H provide a variety of resources to help anyone plan a successful community service project. You can also visit the National 4-H Council’s True Leaders in Service website for access to a planning guide, to register your project and to learn more about the True Leaders in Service Initiative. Your county's 4-H program coordinator may also be a good resource to help you connect with volunteer opportunities in your community. With your help, we can see what happens when everyone in the Michigan 4-H community rises to the challenge and completes a community service activity this April.

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