4-H teen leadership is on the rise in Michigan and throughout the country

4-H teens are becoming more involved in leadership roles through their clubs, in school and in their community. They take on sizeable responsibilities and prove themselves very capable leaders.

4-H teens are experiencing new and challenging roles in our society and proving themselves capable of formidable positions in leadership. Their roles include officer positions for 4-H clubs, local community roles and state roles. Some are taking on national roles as evidenced by the youth in some of these 4-H Revolution of Responsibility stories. 

4-H Club members learn from the beginning about taking responsibility for their projects. They learn respect, caring, responsibility, trustworthiness, fairness and citizenship. The 4-H pledge takes on new meaning as they learn what head, heart, hands and health mean and how that affects their lives.

MSU Extension youth leadership and civic engagement opportunities offer youth research-based experiences in leadership. 4-H club officer trainings are held across the state and the 4-H Teen Leadership and Community Change Conference held in January at Kettunen Center (Michigan 4-H’s volunteer and youth training center) is an opportunity for teens  to learn leadership skills. Sessions focus on citizenship, team building, time management, photo voice projects, getting involved in a political campaign and holding successful 4-H club meetings.

In club leader trainings offered in many Michigan counties, youth are learning to understanding parliamentary procedures. They’re also learning to write checks and look at a treasurer’s report so they can be fiscally responsible officers and understand the financial aspects of their clubs. They’re learning how to handle conflict and communication, facilitate a meeting using various methods to generate new ideas, and select the best idea for their group by coming to that decision fairly. Finally they learn how to develop an action plan.  These are the elements that make up a successful club meeting and help to grow future leaders.  

In Michigan 4-H, youth who wish to become contributing members of their communities are supported. Some have questioned themselves as to what they can do for their communities and have developed some great concepts. A young man from Byron Center gave his lambs to the local food pantry and youth at Birch Run High School discovered if they didn’t step up to the responsibility of exploring alternative energy ideas, who would do it?

Developing leadership skills in youth has always been a part of the 4-H mission. 4-H makes leadership a part of their programming for as long as the child is involved. As youth continue to mature in 4-H, they attend programs like 4-H Capitol Experience and often go on to Citizenship Washington Focus and/or 4-H Congress. This skill development during their 4-H years affects other areas of their lives and will help these young people become successful leaders and citizens in their club, community, country and their world.

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