4-H Youth work to select, investigate and document important community issues

Michigan 4-H Video and Communications Project helps youth give back to their communities through science, solutions and videography.

According to Richard Louv, author of “Last Child in the Woods,” one of the most serious unspoken dilemmas in American education is the disconnection of youth from the real world outside their classroom.

One by-product of this disconnection is that students may be losing touch within their own communities and the natural world. Louv, has coined this phenomenon “nature deprived.” In the book “Place and Community Based Education in Schools,” authors Smith and Sobel, take this idea further, stating that today’s youth are “community deprived.”   

One way that Michigan State University (MSU) Extension is assisting with this challenge is through the new 4-H Video and Communications Project. Through the program Extension staff work with community partners, volunteers, teachers, home-schoolers and students to select an important community issue, investigate it and document efforts through photography and video.

This project is helping to enhance science, engineering, and technology (SET) in northern Michigan, and also making it more engaging and fun for public and home school youth. So far, the project is serving both home and public school youth in Cheboygan, Wolverine and Boyne Falls, Mich. Future projects are also being planned for Emmet County. Current student science investigations include:

  • health and fitness in relationship to childhood obesity/school gardens/school cafeterias
  • local agriculture and food sustainability
  • environmental stewardship, water quality and the need for sustainable alternative energy

Cheboygan Middle School students recently completed one such project. Their new video production, entitled, “Cheboygan Middle School - Green Act,” documents their alternative energy exploration as well as discussing the importance of being free to make mistakes in order to increase innovation and creativity in their science experiments and lessons.

Cheboygan Middle School students are currently planning the presentation of their video project and are looking forward to sharing what they have learned along the way through this project.

This unique approach to learning was achieved through the support of Michigan State University Extension Participation Fee Grants, Northeast Michigan Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative (NE MI GLSI) network partnership, Wal-Mart: Youth Voice Youth Choice grant, and Jump Into Food and Fitness grants; as well as educational resources, expertise and encouragement from community and school partners.

The 4-H Video & Communications Project is expected to provide a vehicle for programming across MSU Extension institutes, curriculum, communities and county boundaries; and will allow 4-H youth to weigh in on relevant community assets, issues, challenges and solutions.

Additional information regarding Michigan 4-H Science can be accessed online.

For more information on getting involved as a youth or volunteer, contact your county MSU Extension office or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address),MSU Extension educator, at 231-627-8815.

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