Connect 4-H learning experiences to career exploration

A Muskegon County community service project, funded through a 4-H grant, illustrates the benefit of promoting careers as part of Michigan 4-H programming.

Extension Educators in Michigan 4-H Youth Development train caring adults to lead and guide youth, assisting them on their path of growth into productive citizens. Through the various project areas in 4-H, such as livestock and horses, arts and crafts, environmental science, science and technology, and others, youth have an opportunity to discover their interests and develop skills to help them be contributing members of society. 4-H volunteers have an opportunity to provide the learning sessions, activities or events from different areas to help youth learn about their projects, which in turn, can lead to them discovering their career path.

Projects, grants, events and activities in 4-H can be used to help 4-H members make career connections to their learning experience. For example, in Muskegon County, Oakridge Service Learning received a Dow Chemical 4-H Youth Conservation Grant from the Michigan 4-H Foundation. Through this grant, 44 youth learned about different environmental issues and chose to work on a bird and butterfly garden for their service project.

As a brief summary, the community service project was integrated into the syllabus for Oakridge Alternative High School. The project consisted of designing the bird and butterfly garden, purchasing the materials and working to implement the garden, completing various class assignments and learning from guest speakers from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR). DNR guest speakers came to the school to give a presentation on careers in the Department of Natural Resources. Career exploration was measured as an area of impact on the students. As a result of the project:

  • 79 percent of the students learned how to connect their learning experience in school to their career goals
  • 64 percent of the students agreed that the presentation from the Department of Natural Resources (Careers in the DNR) helped them connect their learning experiences in school to their career goal
  • 64 percent of the students indicated having a greater interest in exploring science-related or environment-focused careers

As 4-H Leaders or caring adults, find creative ways to help youth in 4-H clubs explore careers relating to their project area(s). Take notice of the skills they display and the subject areas they thrive in so that you can better guide them toward a career path. Introduce other projects to provide not only a new learning experience, but also a possible career opportunity. Guide youth to make a connection between their learning experience and a career path.

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