Youth leadership and civic engagement opportunities available through Michigan 4-H

4-H experiential learning in citizenship and leadership helps youth become an active part of their community.

Leadership and civic engagement can be two very daunting terms that puzzle adults who are helping young people gain skills in these areas. To help youth explore these two areas and gain skills, Michigan 4-H Youth Development has designed several experiential statewide learning opportunities for youth. Do these 4-H experiences change the lives of youth? Research in the 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development, conducted by Tuft University , showed that when compared to their peers, youth who are involved in 4-H are:

  • Four times more likely to make contributions to their communities (Grades 7-12).
  • Two times more likely to be civically active (Grades 8-12).

A program of Michigan State University Extension, one way Michigan 4-H is helping to attain these leadership and civic engagement achievements is through a yearly workshop titled Youth Leadership and Global Citizenship Spectacular. Occurring in January, this workshop provides a wide variety of learning choices, designed to help youth and adults:

  • Develop skills, knowledge and commitment in global citizenship and youth leadership.
  • Gain the tools to start a citizenship, leadership and service program in their community, or to build on and enhance existing programs and activities.
  • Discover ways to be an effective club member, leader and officer.
  • Discover how to be a “youth leader in a global world.”
  • Meet and share ideas with 4‐H teen and adult volunteers from around the state (and the world).
  • Develop a county plan of action for using their new knowledge and skills back home.
  • Build skills for exploring and appreciating diversity and multiculturalism.
  • Have fun!

Another opportunity youth can participate in is the Michigan 4-H Youth Conservation Council (M4-HYCC). M4-HYCC is a time for Michigan’s youth to explore “solutions to environmental issues and provide a ’youth voice’ in state government public policy making.” Through this program, youth select a conservation area of need in Michigan and after researching the topic, they provide their finding to the State Senate for consideration.

In addition, Michigan 4-H’ers visit Lansing in March of each year at  4-H Capitol Experience. During this event, youth spend time with state legislators and learn how they can use their voice to impact government. The program helps youth learn about different parts of the state government, right at the Capitol.

Outside of its own programs, Michigan joins 4-H nationally to provide other hands-on learning opportunities to youth. This includes a trip in June in year where youth spend the week at the National 4-H Center in Washington D.C., learning about the nation’s government and history through 4-H Citizenship Washington Focus. Another opportunity is through National 4-H Congress, held in November in Atlanta, Georgia, which offers a premier leadership training program for young people.

Interested in learning more? Many other activities occur at the club and county 4-H levels. Contact your county MSU Extension office to find out how you can get involved.

Did you find this article useful?