Youth develop global leadership competencies through 4-H – Part 3

The 4-H Backpack to Adventure: Youth Leaders in a Global World curriculum focuses on developing citizenship, one of five youth global leadership competencies.

youth participating in the
4-H Winterfest youth participating in the "Duck Tape Sculptures" activity. All photos by Michigan State University Extension.

The Michigan 4-H  Backpack to Adventure: Youth Leaders in a Global World curriculum features five youth global leadership competencies that are considered important for becoming a youth leader in our globalized, interconnected world. The five competencies include character, citizenship, communication, creativity and culture. This third article in a series by Michigan State University Extension will continue to introduce the curriculum and focus on the citizenship competency.

According to the National 4-H Council, citizenship can be defined as, “Enjoying the opportunities and rights that accompany being a native or naturalized citizen of a country. It is accepting the responsibility to live and shape the world around us, and includes service to others.”

Characteristic behaviors of youth with the citizenship global leadership competency include: understanding the structure and processes of government and community organizations at the local level and beyond, understanding public policy issues and how they are connected locally and globally, demonstrating the skills, knowledge and commitment needed to affect decision-making and public policy-making at the local level and beyond, and participating in service to address problems at the local level and beyond.

Making duct tape sculpturesThe “Lead in Style: Duct Tape Sculpture” activity from the curriculum (see photos) is designed to help young people learn about leadership styles including dictator, liaise faire, democratic and servant leaders. Each style of leadership is experienced while creatively working together. At the conclusion of the activity, participants discuss where and when the styles are most effective and appropriate to use.

The curriculum Resource Matrix provides information to extend learning on citizenship by attending 4-H Capital Experience held each March in Lansing, Michigan; 4-H Exploration Days held each June on MSU’s campus; Michigan 4-H Youth Leadership and Global Citizen Spectacular held each January at Kettunen Center in Tustin, Michigan; and World Food Prize Michigan Youth Institute held in May on MSU’s campus.

The Resource Matrix also shares links to free online resources like Michigan’s Youth Experiencing Action (YEA!). YEA! is a curriculum that includes a leader’s guide and four modules designed for youth ages 14-19 that can be used by any group interested in community service learning. There are links to global citizen resources outside of 4-H and Extension, like Oxfam Education, where you can find global citizen guides and other resources. There’s also Heartlands Truly Moving Pictures curriculum that provides discussion guides, related service project ideas and movies with positive messages with themes of character, prejudice, leadership, teamwork, creativity and more. A link to Global Youth Service Day is also provided, an annual event in April that encourages youth to engage in a service learning project to address a community need they identify. A service learning toolkit and other resources to complete the project are provided at that site. Each of those sites and others listed in the Resource Matrix can help complete the 4-H Backpack Adventure the individual or group is embarking on.

Training on the curriculum is being offered by MSU Extension staff. To bring training to your area, talk to your local MSU 4-H Extension staff or contact me, the curriculum contact person, at for more information.

The 4-H Backpack to Adventure: Youth Leaders in a Global World curriculum can be purchased at the MSU Extension Bookstore (search for 4H1643). It is available in a printed version or on a USB flash drive.

Future articles in this series will explore other global youth competencies including communication, creativity and culture. Refer back to other competencies discussed in this article in Parts 1 and 2.

Other articles in this series

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