Two youth shaking hands in a mock interview.

Preparing Youth for Future Careers


February 2, 2022 - Author:

Key Figures

  • 11,714 participants in 2020 Michigan 4-H career exploration and workforce development programs
  • 1,257 hours of Michigan 4-H career exploration and workforce development programs offered in 2020

Priority Areas

Michigan State University Extension offers 4-H Youth Development programs that assist youth in preparing for and finding gainful employment and educational opportunities.

These programs focus on:

  • Entrepreneurship
  • Financial literacy
  • Career exploration
  • Workforce preparation

In addition to equipping young Michiganders with the skills and competencies critical to any job, these experiences allow youth to explore careers in a safe and informative way.


As a result of Michigan 4-H vocational-related activities, thousands of Michigan youth are better equipped to make important decisions about their professional future, ready to contribute to the workforce and able to take fiscal responsibility in their personal lives.

Of youth surveyed in 2020:

  • 100% know how to effectively market themselves to others.
  • 100% know how to present themselves in a professional manner.
  • 87% understand how to build a good credit history.
  • 75% plan to use their entrepreneurial skills in the future.
  • 50% plan to start their own business.

For more information about MSU Extension’s career exploration and workforce preparation programs and resources, contact or visit the career preparation website.

Participant Quotes

  • "The job interview and resume skills I have learned in the program will increase my chances of getting a job!"
    • Youth participant in a Michigan 4-H career exploration and workforce preparation program 
  • "I have thought about starting my own business someday but have been considering it more seriously from how helpful the program has been. I feel I know more about what it means to be an entrepreneur and how to better manage money, products and partner communication."
    • Participant in Michigan 4-H entrepreneurship program


In early 2020, 10 Leelanau County 4-H’ers received hands-on training for one of the earliest jobs most young people pursue: babysitting. The Leelanau County 4-H Babysitting Club brought together youth ages 11–14 to learn and practice skills that would make them capable, responsible and caring babysitters. In addition to learning techniques related to childcare and healthy snack preparation, the youth also practiced filling out family file logs and babysitter’s reports: important business and communication skills necessary when filling the role of a babysitter. 

To prepare youth for any potential situation that might arise while children were in their care, MSU Extension  Leelanau County also partnered with the Suttons Bay Bingham Fire and Rescue Authority to train the babysitting club on first aid and CPR. As they learned directly from real-life first responders, youth gained skills to prepare them for their first jobs as babysitters and earned a two-year certification from the American Heart Association in CPR and First Aid. 

“You learned how to keep others and yourself safe. I love it!” remarked one participant.


When the pandemic struck, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services reached out to MSU Extension to ask for help in filling the educational and social void that many youth in the Michigan Youth Opportunity Initiative (MYOI) were facing. A program that serves youth in foster care, MYOI seeks to improve outcomes for foster care youth as they transition into adulthood. 

In 2020, MSU Extension professionals worked diligently to create a comprehensive menu of 40 engaging virtual learning classes for MYOI youth. From March through December, MSU Extension staff facilitated more than 70 virtual classes on topics including money management, workforce preparation, communication, leadership and more. This programming was delivered to more than 850 youth in the MYOI program.


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