4-H provides youth with leadership and a sense of community for life

A Michigan youth writes of the skills gained through her 4-H experience.

4-H’ers telling their story is perhaps the best way to understand how Michigan State University Extension’s 4-H provides young people with the leadership and citizenship skills that they will use throughout their life. The Tufts University 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development states that 4-H members are more likely to do community service as adults.

That is evident in the words of 4-H members. Here are excerpts from an essay written by Branch County 4-H member Dakota Hard that support the study’s findings:  

“In my family, 4-H is an integral as attending school. I started 4-H as a Clover Bud when I was 5 years old. On our farm, it is expected that when you wake up in the morning, you eat breakfast and then you feed the livestock. Every summer when school lets out for vacation, it doesn’t mean sleeping in everyday, it means that 4-H projects kick into high gear. Those daily duties taught me many valuable lessons. I believe the lessons I have learned through 4-H were as valuable as my formal education. Mostly though, 4-H has taught me so much about leadership, responsibility and giving back to others. Also, 4-H has shaped me into the person I am today because of the experiences and the trips that I was able to experience through it.

“I can’t think of a more solid foundation for the next ten years of my life than everything I have mentioned that 4-H has taught me. I live in a community that values hard work, knowledge and community service. I plan on achieving my goals in that community. My first step is to attend Central Michigan University in the fall. I also plan to use leadership and hard work to obtain a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. I believe that by being a teacher I can give back to the community. I will be teaching the younger generations how to act and what to learn. I plan to teach them the importance of hard work and dedication throughout life”.

Young people learn the importance of community service and “giving their hands to larger service” through 4-H. The Michigan 4-H Community Service Website has excellent information on developing community service experiences for young people.

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