Children and Youth Programming: Developing Civically Engaged Leaders


April 13, 2017 -

With a goal of ensuring every Michigan child is prepared with the knowledge, tools and skills to lead a healthy and productive life, MSU Extension’s children and youth programming uses the experiential learning model through which children learn best. This hands-on, learn-by-doing programming is concentrated in five core areas, one of which is leadership and civic engagement.

Through this priority area, MSU Extension provides programs and services that help youth become leaders in a globally connected and multicultural world while developing a commitment to civic service and responsibility. As a result, Michigan youth understand and respect the culture of others and are prepared to respond to local and global issues through leadership, civic engagement and volunteerism.

Delivered through webinars, face-to-face workshops and other mechanisms, MSU Extension offers a variety of training, curricula and materials to support youth leadership and civic engagement. These trainings use a hands-on, learn-by-doing approach through which children learn best. Resources in this priority area focus on:

Leadership Development

With innovative ideas, exuberant energy and the ability to look beyond preconceived obstacles and restrictions, youth have the capacity to change the world. To provide young people with the skills that empower these assets, MSU Extension provides youth and the adults who serve them with trainings that teach youth how to run a meeting, deal with conflict, work collaboratively with people of various leadership styles and personalities, and more. These local and statewide workshops cover topics including youth-adult partnerships, parliamentary procedure, facilitation, communication and conflict resolution and include programs such as the Michigan 4-H State Youth Leadership Council, Real Colors, and the Michigan 4-H Youth Leadership and Global Citizenship Spectacular.

Civic Education and Engagement

To be active and engaged agents of positive change in our society, youth must know and understand how the country’s public policy process works. To address this need, MSU Extension offers resources to help young people learn how our local, state and national government structures operate and provides them with the skills and knowledge to influence the public policy process. In addition to building an understanding of how community structures work at every level, including boards and committees, MSU Extension also connects youth with decision makers at the county, state, tribal and national levels. Statewide programs in this area include the Michigan 4-H Youth Conservation Council, county and tribal citizenship academies, 4-H Capitol Experience, Citizenship Washington Focus and the National 4-H Conference, as well as local and statewide workshops for both youth and adults.

Global Citizenship

Understanding one's place in the world and having an appreciation for diverse perspectives and cultures are both important 21st century skills for youth to develop in today’s globally connected planet. By engaging youth with diverse people, places and things, MSU Extension provides many opportunities for them to build their cultural competencies, develop their character, enhance their creativity, increase their communication skills and become more respectful and empathetic citizens. Programs and resources that support youth and adults in this area include international and interstate student exchanges, the World Food Prize Michigan Youth Institute, 4-H China Art Exchange, and Michigan 4-H Backpack to Adventure: Youth Leaders in a Global World, among others. 

Contact Us

For more information about MSU Extension’s leadership and civic engagement programs and resources, contact or visit one of the following sites: 4-H Leadership, Citizenship and Service or 4-H Global and Cultural Education.


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