Marquette County youth takes unique approach to leadership

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

Sarah Conery, Michigan 4-H member.

Sarah Conery, Michigan 4-H member.

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 Champion native Sarah Conery, for example. 

Conery, 18, credits her enrollment in Michigan 4-H, a program of Michigan State University Extension, with helping her overcome shyness and build confidence along the way. The life skills taught through 4-H helped Sarah learn to work with others and assume leadership roles.

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

“I was a shy child, and Michigan 4-H really helped me interact with 4-Hers from all over the state,” says Conery, a 10-year veteran of the Evergreen Acres 4-H club. “I got to take part in big events, like Exploration Days at Michigan State University, which brought together buses full of students and gave us a preview of college life. I also enjoyed smaller group outings, like the Capitol Experience, when we toured the capitol and held mock legislative sessions in Lansing.”

Today, Sarah is a college freshman in Wisconsin. Despite being away at school, she enjoyed planning 4-H summer camp so much last year that she’ll help lead planning efforts by teleconference this year.

“4-H helped me grow as a person and form relationships that will last a lifetime,” she says. “4-H kids learn cool skills ranging from line dancing to caring for animals; cooking to leadership skills. The experience was great and it changed my life.”

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 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.

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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