Bay County youth takes unique approach to leadership

4-H proven to empower area youth through life skill development.

LaBean and her chicken with her winning ribbon.

LaBean and her chicken with her winning ribbon.

It’s no secret that today’s youth feel pressure. Pressure to excel in school, to go to college, to get a job, etc. How they overcome those pressures, is a true testament to their character. Take Bay City native Jannah LaBean for example.

LaBean, 15, credits her enrollment in Michigan 4-H, a program of Michigan State University Extension, with helping her overcome adversity and build confidence along the way. The life skills taught through 4-H helped LaBean learn to work with others, overcome challenges and complete jobs once she started them.

LaBean took advantage of the breadth of programs Michigan 4-H offers, from science and agriculture to business and creative arts.

“What I like most is working with others,” says LaBean. “There are so many people showing animals that it is easy to bond with your animals and make new friends.”

In addition to making new friends, LaBean says she has learned about mentorship through 4-H.

“4-H has made me more confident,” says LaBean. “It has built my teamwork and time management skills. I have learned that the more experience I get, the more it pays off. I’m also able to be a mentor and help others through advice from my experience.”

America needs more true leaders focused on today’s challenges, as well as the issues of tomorrow. A recent survey by National 4-H Council found that 71 percent of today’s youth view leadership as something they can practice and improve over time. But those same youth need supportive adults to help them along the way.

4-H brings a community together to grow true leaders in today’s youth – helping build confidence, teamwork, curiosity, and resilience.

“My aunt, Holly Keim, inspired me to get involved with 4-H,” says LaBean. “As a young girl, I would visit my aunt’s house and I fell in love with the chickens. My aunt and her children were involved in 4-H, and so I decided I wanted to get involved. She changed my whole perspective about what it is like to take care of an animal.”

Any child can grow with 4-H, an organization that has something for every interest. But 4-H is always looking for adult volunteers and funding to help expand their reach and empower young people through doing. For more information about Michigan 4-H programs and volunteering opportunities, visit the Michigan State University Extension website.

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