Michigan 4-H State Youth Leadership Council provides opportunities for youth

Reflections from Michigan 4-H State Youth Leadership Council member Samantha Beaudrie.

Samantha Beaudrie pauses for a photo opportunity with her lambs at the Monroe County Fair. Photo by Iris Rinaldi.
Samantha Beaudrie pauses for a photo opportunity with her lambs at the Monroe County Fair. Photo by Iris Rinaldi.

Samantha Beaudrie is a 19-year-old Monroe County 4-H member who has been involved in Michigan 4-H Youth Development programs for 13 years. Beaudrie has participated in a variety of animal projects as well as needlepoint and communications. Beaudrie is also completing her second year as a member of the Michigan 4-H State Youth Leadership Council, where she represents Michigan 4-H at statewide promotional events and activities. This article is one of a collection of articles featuring young leaders excelling in Michigan 4-H Youth Development programs hosted by Michigan State University Extension.

Jackie (J): Tell me about State Youth Leadership Council.

Samantha (S): State Youth Leadership Council is a group of teens comprised of 4-Hers across Michigan. The Council not only gives youth a chance to have a larger voice in the 4-H program at a statewide level, but it also allows youth to gain leadership skills. State Youth Leadership Council gives youth countless opportunities to collaborate on new programming, give feedback on new initiatives, represent the 4-H program at events and engage other youth.  

J: What impact did your experience on State Youth Leadership Council have on your life?

S: State Youth Leadership Council has given me an abundance of opportunities that I would not have had otherwise. I learned how programming is funded and how much my voice matters when talking to stakeholders. I was also able to make everlasting friendships and connections with people that have such bright futures ahead. I feel that I have truly grown as a person and am able to speak to stakeholders on the impact that 4-H and State Youth Leadership Council has made on my life. Overall, I am extremely grateful to be a part of State Youth Leadership Council and have noticed the large growth in my confidence and capabilities to be a true leader. 

J: What has been your biggest take away from this experience?

S: To never be afraid to share my thoughts, opinions or experiences with others. Before State Youth Leadership Council, I would never feel comfortable enough to talk about my passion of 4-H to others. Because of State Youth Leadership Council, I learned it is important to talk about my accomplishments and ambitions to others to inspire others to take action. I have been able to grow as an individual and have gained new perspectives of the 4-H program as a whole due to this experience.

J: What other statewide or national 4-H programs have been especially meaningful for you? What difference did they make on your life as a whole?

S: Last year through State Youth Leadership Council, I had the opportunity to attend the National 4-H Conference at the National 4-H Center. I prepared a federal briefing with a group of youth from across the globe. This experience brought me out of my comfort zone and gave me the opportunity to present this briefing in front of a federal agency. I am eternally grateful to have had this opportunity and I feel it was one of the biggest learning experiences for me. At the state level, I feel one of the most beneficial programs I have been able to attend is Exploration Days. Not only has this program been a great learning experience each year, but I was also able to apply for state awards in different areas. The state award process is competitive and challenging, but has taught me necessary life skills I will carry with me for the rest of my life. I highly encourage all youth to apply for a state award during their time as a 4-Her.

J: If you were to give an aspiring youth leader some advice, what would that advice be?

S: As a youth leader, I think something that is important is to not necessarily always be the leader in the room. Sometimes as a leader, it is necessary to allow others to have a voice and grow as a leader too. Being a true leader should never be about having the title, but rather accomplishing the goal at hand and making a difference.

J: Where do you go from here? What goals are you hoping to achieve in the next five or 10 years?

S: I am currently finishing my last year in 4-H, so I am starting to transition into a new role of becoming a 4-H leader. I am hoping to ease into more roles in my county as time goes on, and potentially on a higher level someday. I know my passion for 4-H will stick with me forever and will help me along this new adventure as an adult in the program. Outside of 4-H, I would like to travel to different countries and learn about new cultures upon graduating from college. 

J: Anything else about your 4-H experiences you’d like to share?

S: I would like to encourage the youth in the program to take advantage of the endless opportunities 4-H has to offer and to get involved. The most important thing I have learned is that it really is not about the number of trophies, ribbons or banners that you win. The person you grow into and the difference you make in the community as a result of 4-H is what truly matters in the end.

To learn about the positive impact of Michigan 4-H youth leadership, citizenship and service and global and cultural education programs, read our 2016 Impact Report: “Developing Civically Engaged Leaders.” Additional impact reports, highlighting even more ways Michigan State University Extension and Michigan 4-H have positively impacted individuals and communities in 2016, can be downloaded from the MSU Extension website.

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