Children & Youth Impacts: Preparing the Future Generation for Success


May 29, 2019


With a goal of ensuring every Michigan child has the necessary knowledge, tools and skills to lead a healthy and productive life, Michigan State University (MSU) Extension’s children and youth programming prepares the state’s youth for the future. By providing children with a continuum of learning opportunities, resources and support from birth through age 19, these programs have a vital impact on Michigan communities. The programs develop a capacity for academic success in youth, create workforce-ready young adults, reduce high-risk behaviors, engage and develop youth as current and future leaders, and so much more. This brings great value to the Great Lakes State, as more successful young people in communities results in greater tax revenues and consumer spending, and increases the likelihood that young people will stay in, or return to, their communities.

MSU Extension’s focus on child development starts during a child’s most formative years: birth to age 8. Through early childhood programming, parents and caregivers of the youngest Michiganders can receive resources and support to ensure they have the tools and knowledge to become their children’s best resource and advocate early in life. As youth become older, MSU Extension supports them through the largest youth development organization in the state: Michigan 4-H. This youth development program helps young people aged 5 to 19 grow critical life skills they need to contribute to their communities as both children and adults while exploring their interests and passions. By coupling positive adult mentorship with structured and instructional out-of-school time, real-world learning experiences and leadership opportunities, Michigan 4-H allows youth to explore new worlds and gain new knowledge while growing their confidence, civic engagement and leadership skills, and sense of responsibility.

Children and youth programming offered by MSU Extension focuses on six core areas: early childhood development, leadership and civic engagement, science literacy, healthy living, career exploration and workforce development, and capacity building for youth development programs. The development of life skills is an overarching priority weaved into all aspects of MSU Extension children and youth programming. 

Impact by the Numbers

  • 203,000 total youth are engaged in 4-H programming.
  • Nearly 3,300 parents and caregivers received MSU Extension early childhood programs.
  • 49,000 Michigan 4-H youth had experiences related to citizenship, leadership, cultural education and communication.
  • 221,000 Michigan 4-H youth had experiences related to science, engineering and technology.
  • Nearly 1,300 participants were served with Michigan 4-H healthy living programs.
  • 18,000 participants were served with Michigan 4-H career exploration and workforce development programming.
  • 7,000 youth and adult participants were served by various programs that build capacity for positive youth development.
  • Nearly 1,000 youth were served with intentional life skills development training and activities.

Early Childhood Development

MSU Extension’s early childhood development programs support families with young children by helping parents and caregivers increase early childhood science, math and pre-literacy skills, and enhance children’s social and emotional development. As a result, Michigan’s families are stronger and young children better equipped with a solid foundation for future success. 

In 2018, MSU Extension early childhood education programs were delivered to nearly 3,300 parents and caregivers who influence more than 27,000 children and youth on a daily basis. Of those surveyed:

  • 57% showed an increase in techniques to help children to learn.
  • 49% felt more prepared to support learning and growth in children.

Leadership and Civic Engagement

MSU Extension leadership and civic engagement programs prepare youth to become leaders in a globally connected and multicultural world. 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. 

In the 2017-18 program year, Michigan youth participated in nearly 49,000 civic engagement, community service, cultural competency and leadership development 4-H experiences. After their involvement in these activities, youth showed significant increases in skills related to conflict resolution, facilitation, civic participation, leadership, communication and cultural competencies. Specific examples include:

  • 94% try to change things they think are wrong.
  • 98% reported they respect people from different cultures.

Science Literacy

Science literacy programs cultivate an understanding of the process of science, or how science works, and increase knowledge of science content and topics. As a result, youth are not only excited to pursue science careers, but also better equipped with important problemsolving, critical-thinking and decision-making life skills necessary for professional and personal success. 

During the 2017-18 program year, Michigan 4-H’ers had 221,000 4-H experiences related to science, engineering and technology. After participating in these programs, participants showed high rates of positive attitudes and aspirations toward science, interest and engagement in science, and an ability to demonstrate responsibility, critical-thinking and problem-solving skills. Specific examples include:

  • 94% reported they wanted to learn more about science.
  • 89% said they would like to have a job related to science.

Healthy Living

4-H healthy living programming teaches youth about food, nutrition, physical activity and personal safety. Through these initiatives, MSU Extension is helping to build a healthier future generation by empowering Michigan youth to make proactive and healthy choices, now and in the future.

In 2018, this programming reached nearly 1,300 participants. After participating in Michigan 4-H healthy living programming, youth indicated high levels of knowledge about healthy lifestyles and choices they could make to improve their overall health. In addition, youth reported positive attitudes about healthy lifestyle choices and many said they were already making important healthy living decisions. Specific examples include:

  • 77% know how to make healthy food choices.
  • 74% pay attention to how much water they drink each day.

Life Skill Development

Life skill development is a critical aspect of all MSU Extension children and youth programs, which is why all youth projects and experiences use the experiential learning model through which children learn best. By employing the learn-by-doing approach and engaging young people in hands-on activities, MSU Extension is helping to develop life skills such as goal setting, record keeping and critical thinking, as well as personal and interpersonal skills such as leadership, teamwork, communication, self-esteem and responsibility. As a result, Michigan youth are prepared with the necessary skills to contribute to their communities now and in the future. 

Although life skill development is at the forefront of all children and youth programs, MSU Extension also engages adults and youth in intentional life skills development training and activities.

In 2018, this programming was delivered to more than 1,000 youth. 

Career Exploration and Workforce Development

Career exploration and workforce development programs through MSU Extension allow youth to explore future careers and entrepreneurship while enhancing their financial literacy and developing important skills for the workforce. As a result, Michigan youth are better prepared to make important decisions about their professional future, ready to contribute to the workforce and able to take fiscal responsibility in their personal lives.

In 2018, this programming reached 18,000 youth participants in 76 Michigan counties. After their participation, those surveyed showed significant increases in their understanding of sound business and financial management practices, as well as their knowledge surrounding career readiness and exploration and their ability to perform key skills in these areas. Specific examples include

  • 98% understood they were responsible for their financial future.
  • 75% knew where they wanted to end up and had a plan on how to get there.

Capacity Building

MSU Extension youth development capacity-building programs provide tools and services to 4-H and other youth development programs across the state. As a result, the people and organizations that support Michigan’s youth are better equipped to prepare young people for future educational, career and life success. 

In 2018, MSU Extension reached more than 7,000 youth and adult participants through various capacity-building programs. This included providing more than 3,500 adults with professional development training, more than 3,200 individuals with volunteer training and nearly 1,500 youth with educational programs. Evaluations vary by audience and programming but among professionals surveyed:

  • 95% said they were more confident in their ability to appropriately screen volunteers.

In 2018, the state’s $63.1 million investment in MSU AgBioResearch and MSU Extension generated more than $1 billion for Michigan residents. Every dollar the state invested in MSU AgBioResearch and MSU Extension resulted in an additional $2.26 leveraged in federal funds and external contracts, grants and other revenues, as well as $5.80 in additional community benefits. As a result, MSU Extension and MSU AgBioResearch are able to serve Michigan residents with a benefit/cost ratio of 16:1.

These cost benefits are huge, but they are not the only benefits that MSU Extension brings to the state. Through Michigan 4-H Youth Development, more than 203,000 youth learn compassion, respect, leadership skills, responsibility, the value of hard work and other critical abilities. In addition, MSU Extension early childhood education programs prepare thousands of Michigan’s youngest children for school success. Learn how you can contribute to this type of programming at: 


Tags: 4-h, msu extension

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