Michigan 4-Hers improve citizenship skills in 2015

Youth participating in Michigan 4-H leadership, civic engagement and global programming report positive outcomes in 2015.

National 4-H programs focus on three broad areas of programming called mission mandates in order to prioritize the work of 4-H programs across the nation. They include science, healthy living and citizenship. Citizenship is defined broadly to include leadership, personal development and global citizenship. In Michigan 4-H, youth participate in leadership, civic engagement and global/cultural competency programs ranging from serving as a club officer to hosting a youth exchange student from Japan. A team of 11 Michigan 4-H staff members focus on the development of citizenship, leadership and cultural competency skills in youth at local, state, national and even international levels by providing opportunities for youth to develop skills and equipping adult 4-H volunteers with confidence to support them and allowing youth to take the lead.

Locally, Michigan 4-H members serve as 4-H club officers, practice parliamentary procedure and facilitation skills, serve on county-wide advisory groups and mentor and teach younger youth as teen leaders.

Statewide, Michigan 4-H members participate in 4-H Kettunen Center workshops designed to build leadership skills, 4-H Capitol Experience and the Michigan Youth Institute. Twenty-three Michigan 4-H members comprise the Michigan 4-H State Youth Leadership Council, which provides a platform for youth to advocate for Michigan 4-H programs in order to increase awareness and serve as an advisory group for Michigan 4-H staff.

Nationally, Michigan 4-H sends youth to three leadership development conferences including National 4-H Conference, National 4-H Congress and 4-H Citizenship Washington Focus. All three expose youth to inspirational speakers, skill development workshops and provide an avenue for youth to share their voice at a federal level.

Internationally, Michigan 4-H engages over 5,900 youth across Michigan in an art exchange with China, as well as provides opportunities for youth to learn about another culture by hosting youth in their home and provides opportunities for youth to travel overseas to experience another culture first hand.

Youth’s participation in these experiences results in positive outcomes resulting in increased skills, greater confidence and awareness of opportunities impacting their future. A sample of 2015 program evaluations revealed the following:

  • 98 percent of participants agreed or strongly agreed they feel prepared to work toward change in their community (up 39 percent from participants’ feelings before the program).
  • 86 percent of participants agreed or strongly agreed they can run a meeting (up 34 percent from participants’ feelings before the program).
  • 82 percent of participants agreed or strongly agreed they have confidence to speak in front of groups.

Youth reflected on their experiences, saying:

  • “(I learned) how to create an action plan, be more open-minded…take charge and make a difference.”
  • “(I learned) that I, as a teen, have the ability to make a positive impact in the country – not only in my hometown. Also, I learned the importance of listening more.”
  • “(This experience) makes me want to attend college even more and become a huge leader in my country.”
  • “(This experience) helped me understand that all it takes is one small voice to impact others and make a difference.”

Michigan State University Extension and the Michigan 4-H Youth Development program helps to prepare youth as positive and engaged leaders and global citizens by providing educational experiences and resources for youth interested in developing knowledge and skills in these areas. To learn more about the positive impact of Michigan 4-H youth leadership, civic engagement, citizenship and global/cultural programs, read our complete 2015 Impact Report: “Developing Civically Engaged Leaders.”

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