What is the role of tribal and local government?

What about state government?

The Michigan 4-H Citizenship and Tribal Citizenship Academy program offers high school aged students an opportunity to learn about Tribal, local and state government through a "hands-on" approach. Students also engage in identifying public issues, and learn about the citizen’s role within the government structure to accomplish public objectives and meet community needs. Historically, the program’s primary focus was on Michigan local and state government. Since 2013, the inclusion of Michigan tribal government has given students an opportunity to learn from Michigan Tribal Government elected and appointed officials about their role in government, to learn about specific Michigan tribal history and diversity within the structure of Tribal Government. Students meet eight times over a span of two to three months and then participate in the three day, 4-H Capitol Experience Program to learn about Michigan State Government.

This year a group of eight students from Kent County, Calhoun County and the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi (NHBP) participated in the program, which began in February. Students learned about NHBP history from Cultural Specialists Mon-ee Zapata and Melissa Foerster with the NHBP Cultural and Historic Preservation Office. They also learned about the variety of services that NHBP offers their membership. Students joined a tour of the NHBP’s Grand Rapids office which houses the tribal health clinic and youth and elder services. That day included a trip to the NHBP’s Pine Creek Reservation to meet with government office department representatives.  At the tour’s conclusion, the Natural Resources Department allowed the students to observe the maple syrup making process. Students learned how to tap a maple tree and how to boil sap to make syrup. At the end of the demonstration everyone enjoyed a taste of the finished maple syrup. In subsequent meetings students learned about Michigan County Government and participated in a tour of Kent County governmental departments to understand specific department roles in county government.

Lastly, the students traveled to Lansing to participate in the 4-H Capitol Experience program. While in Lansing, the students engaged in a mock bill writing process, met with lobbyists to learn about that job, and visited either the State Capitol or Michigan Supreme Court.  Students then traveled home to share what they learned with their own elected and appointed officials.

If you are interested in learning more about civic engagement, please visit the Michigan Nonprofit Association (MNA) website. Also, to learn more about Government and Public Policy programs offered through MSUE please contact Emily Proctor, Tribal Extension Educator with questions or comments at (231)-439-8927 or proctor8@anr.msu.edu.  This article was published by MSU Extension. For more information, visit Michigan State University Extension. To contact an expert in your area, visit Michigan State University Extension Find an Expert.

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