The Michigan/Poland 4-H exchange has a long history

The 4-H Michigan Poland exchange has been in existence for more than eighteen years.

The 4-H Michigan/Polish Exchange has been in existence for almost twenty years. The first exchange took place in 1993 when a group of six youth and three adults from Leszno province in Poland came to stay with host families in Michigan. The exchange started when the Extension staff assigned to the Poland/ United States Extension Program started working with youth in their districts and called it 4-H. The Polish Extension Service (ODR) staff found that the 4-H program youth development focus suited their rural youth.

In 1992, a group of Michigan staff and interns spent a six week session in Leszno province holding week long camps for youth interested in joining the 4-H program. They were given English language lessons in the morning and worked on 4-H projects in the afternoon. Participants in the exchange would commit to at least two years in a 4-H club. By the end of the summer six-week program, the 1993 month long summer exchange was arranged with Michigan 4-H Youth Development Programs for a return trip with Michigan 4-H staff and youth in 1994. From that time, the Poland/Michigan exchange has been underway.

In 1993, the Polish 4-H Education Foundation was formed with the help of staff and the Michigan4-H Foundation. Michigan exchange youth were placed with 4-H families throughout Poland in 1996. Since then, Michigan youth and adults have traveled to Poland every other year and hosted in the opposite year.

On June 28, 2012 four youth and one adult will travel to Poland and will stay with Polish 4-H families. They will learn about Polish family dynamics, their Polish community and 4-H in Poland. They will come back with many new experiences that make them better representative of the United States and 4-H and with life skills such as communication, problem solving, decision making, leadership and confidence in themselves.

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