MSU Tollgate Farm 4-H Stewards Sustainability Leadership Institute


 MSU Tollgate Farm Teen Leadership Programs are committed to empowering youth to make a positive difference in their communities through place-based learning opportunities.

  MSU Tollgate Farm SSLI logo

So, what is sustainability all about? How do you as a young leader create positive sustainability outcomes? What does it mean to be a good steward at home, at school, in your communities? How can environmental stewardship be a part of the farm? How do all careers and fields of study encompass sustainability?   

Learning about sustainability means “creating, integrating, and harnessing new knowledge to protect and improve social and natural systems and their interactions” (Teton Science Schools). This year-long leadership experience explores answers to these questions while you expanding your ability to make a positive difference in the environment.

This youth-directed challenging leadership summit is for teens ages 13-19 who love adventure and includes a systems-thinking approach, a mentorship model, leadership roles at camp, an outdoor wilderness team-building experience, campus visit, a capstone sustainability action project, and a certificate of completion. 



Fall 2021 - SSLI steering committee meetings
January - May - Monthly virtual or in person research sessions
June 20-25 -  4-H In Depth Stewards Sustainability Leadership Training
June 24-25 - 4-H Stewards and Stewards-in-Training Camp Orientation and Training
Summer 2022 - 4-H SSLI stewards serve as lead stewards for 1 or more weeks of camp
Thursday, August 4 –  4:30 - 9:00 p.m. Stewards Midsummer Evening Training
Friday, August 26 - 4:30 - 9:00 p.m. – Camp Closing Celebration

Tollgate SSLI spaces are limited, so register early. Participants under 18 need parental consent to participate in this program.

Registration is full for the 2021/2022 year. Registration for the 2022/2023 year will take place in early August. Please email for more information.

The 4-H Stewards Sustainability Leadership Institute is the advanced level of the progressive Tollgate Teen Leadership Program. Stewards Sustainability Leadership Institute, $400/per participant. Financial aid process is available. See below.

Tollgate Farm is seeking corporate and community sponsorships to help make this extended environmental leadership experience accessible to all youth. Please email for more information about sponsoring Stewards Sustainability Leadership Institute.  

Pond dipping 3

For questions or to find out more about being a part of SSLI, contact Ellen Koehler at

Tollgate welcomes all and strives to provide opportunities for youth and adults of all income levels to experience farm-based experiential learning. The goal of the financial aid committee is to provide youth and adults with the opportunity to enrich learning and broaden their experiences. Assistance is determined based on need and SSLI applicants can learn more or apply HERE.

We are planning for in-person programs in 2022. We will continue to monitor the impact of the pandemic on programs, and decisions will be based on the status of the COVID-19 pandemic, recommendations/guidelines from MSU, the State of Michigan, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local Health Department guidance. You will be contacted regarding any changes or updates through the email you use to register.

For questions about SSLI, contact Ellen Koehler at

Steward at Pond with Campers