Michigan 4-Her serves as president of the Michigan State Fair Youth Council

Hear how a Michigan 4-H State Youth Leadership Council member stepped up to the plate at the 2016 Fifth-Third Bank Michigan State Fair.

Tom led fellow State Youth Leadership Council members on a tour of the state fairgrounds, including a stop with his rooster Fred. Left to right: Loren King, Tom Purves, Samantha Beaudrie, Emily Kittendorf and SYLC co-facilitator Makena Schultz.

Tom led fellow State Youth Leadership Council members on a tour of the state fairgrounds, including a stop with his rooster Fred. Left to right: Loren King, Tom Purves, Samantha Beaudrie, Emily Kittendorf and SYLC co-facilitator Makena Schultz.

The Michigan 4-H State Youth Leadership Council is currently the highest office of leadership a youth can hold in Michigan 4-H. The group of about 25 youth works together to represent youth voice in 4-H activities at a statewide level. They offer insights into program planning, evaluation and implementation efforts, in addition to being the “face of 4-H” at events and in conversations with Michigan 4-H stakeholders. State Youth Leadership Council is also a leadership development opportunity for youth, providing them with trainings on transdisciplinary leadership skills and spaces to practice and apply those skills.

Tom Purves is a current State Youth Leadership Council member who has taken his leadership experiences in Michigan 4-H and State Youth Leadership Council, and applied them to a new leadership role. Here’s Tom’s story on being president of the Fifth-Third Bank Michigan State Fair Youth Council.

Makena (M): Tell me about the Michigan 4-H State Youth Leadership Council.

Tom (T): 4-H State Youth Leadership Council is a group of kids who are excelled leaders in their 4-H activities, who come together with other kids from around the state to talk about how we could improve 4-H statewide and participate in leadership and communication development programs. As a member, I wanted to take my 4-H experience beyond the county level and gain a greater understanding of 4-H around the state. State Youth Leadership Council is especially helping me to meet other people. It’s a great networking opportunity!

M: Now tell me about the Fifth-Third Bank Michigan State Fair, and your role on the Michigan State Fair Youth Council.

T: Our goal is to improve the delivery of the state fair to exhibitors, and increase the networking and buy in from youth exhibitors that are a part of the fair; all while helping promote agriculture around the state. We are also working to fix the disconnect between agriculture and society. My role is the president, so I run meetings and organize activities. At the state fair this year we had a “VIP Youth Night” that welcomed youth from around the state to recruit council participants, enjoy the fair, and build networks to help connect with others around the state.

M: How do you think 4-H and Michigan 4-H State Youth Leadership Council helped prepare you for this role?

T: First, it taught me how to run meetings. Second, it helped me learn how to communicate with people, and helped with my delivery on certain topics. I’ve learned how to take charge of events, and have confidence to lead different types of activities with groups of people I don’t know. I learned how to listen to other peoples’ perspectives as well. That way when you’re in a group of people, all people feel satisfied with the final result or experience of what they’ve participated in.

M: What has been your biggest takeaway from this experience?

T: Probably how important organization and communication is. The State Fair Youth Council has members all around the state like State Youth Leadership Council does. Because of this, insuring optimal communication is a must, along with the value all the different perspectives that people around the state can provide. We went to Detroit to tour urban farms. By doing this, we learned to work with people who are have different experiences, with different backgrounds, and ways of engaging in agriculture that we hadn’t seen before.

M: If you were to give an aspiring youth leader some advice, what would that advice be?

T: Don’t be afraid to work with everyone. In a large group of people, there are certain people that are really inviting and others who are less so, but as a leader it’s your role to make sure you’re gathering opinions and thoughts from everyone; both the extroverts and introverts. Also, when leading in a youth-adult partnership meeting or group, take control of your meeting; the adults might attempt to take over, but it’s your meeting – you have the gavel. Treat them just like another participant. Don’t give adults any more priority than the youth. Eventually the adults catch on that you can handle it and everyone feels like they’re doing their part.

Applications are currently being accepted for the 2017 State Youth Leadership Council cohort. Serving on the State Youth Leadership Council is a two-year commitment, and youth applicants must be between the ages of 15-19 with at least two years of involvement in 4-H. The application can be accessed online at 2017 SYLC Youth Application, and requires youth also ask two references to fill out recommendation surveys. The application deadline is Nov. 1, 2016, so don’t delay and apply today!

Michigan 4-H is constantly working to provide opportunities for learning and growth to youth leaders around the state. Michigan State University Extension and the Michigan 4-H Youth Development program help to prepare youth as positive and engaged leaders and global citizens by providing educational experiences and resources for youth interested in developing knowledge and skills in these areas. To learn about the positive impact of Michigan 4-H youth leadership, civic engagement, citizenship and global/cultural programs, read our 2015 Impact Report: “Developing Civically Engaged Leaders.”

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