Encourage growth in 4-H youth through service and leadership

Explore how to implement the seventh 4-H guiding principle in 4-H clubs and communities.

Michigan 4-H Youth Development has seven guiding principle for positive youth development. This is the seventh and last installment in a series that explores each of those guiding principles.

The seventh Michigan 4-H Guiding Principles for Positive Youth Development is “Youth grow and contribute as active citizens through service and leadership.”

Each club should participate in service projects throughout the year. Youth should feel included and involved in their communities. They have significant roles to play and important contributions to make as stewards of the future. Youth develop personal competencies that foster leadership, caring and citizenship.

Here are some ideas of what a club could do to for service projects in their community:

  • Do a cleanup at a local park.
  • Gather food to donate to a local pantry or help at a homeless shelter. A listing of Michigan food banks is available on the Food Bank Council of Michigan website.
  • Work on an intergenerational project at one of the senior centers or nursing homes in your community. A directory of senior centers is available on the Michigan Association of Senior Citizens website.
  • Work with the mentally and/or physically disabled. Contact a local school or intermediate school district to determine what their needs are. You can also find members of the Michigan Disability network at on their website.
  • Work with sick youth at one of our area hospitals. If there is a simple craft project you have done in your club and enjoyed, you can do the same activity in a children’s ward.
  • Help families of soldiers through Operation Military Kids. More information is available on the Operation: Military Kids website.
  • Work with a local school to teach young students about agriculture. Many students do not know where their food comes from and you could work with your local Farm Bureau to help out. Visit the Michigan Farm Bureau website for more information
  • Ask your local emergency responders if there are any needs they have that you could help out with. They might be having fundraisers or education events.
  •  Work with a local watershed group on a stream monitoring program or a shoreline cleanup. You can find a listing of watershed groups on the Cranbrook Institute of Science Great Lakes Watershed website.
  • Contact your local health department on how you can help them with local public health efforts, this could include household hazardous waste collections, educating others about health risk factors, or serving as a helper in a local clinic. A local health department map is available online on the Michigan Department of Community Health website.

Not only does working on projects like these help the community, they also encourage youth to use their time, energies and skills for the benefit of others.

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