Saginaw County youth takes unique approach to leadership

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

MacKenzie McInnis and her lamb at a county fair.

MacKenzie McInnis and her lamb at a county fair.

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 Saginaw native MacKenzie McInnis for example. 

McInnis, 15, credits her enrollment in Michigan 4-H, the state’s largest youth organization, with helping her overcome adversity and build confidence along the way. The life skills taught through 4-H helped McInnis learn to work with others, overcome challenges and complete jobs once she started them.

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

“4-H has helped me through a lot,” said McInnis. “When my parents went through a divorce and my grandmother passed away, I was dealing with anxiety and ADHD. Through 4-H, I have gotten more confident and learned through hard work, I can do things the same as everyone else.”

Today, McInnis is an advocate for 4-H and often speaks to groups about the organization, livestock and other projects she is involved in. CNN and USA Today even featured a quote from a talk McInnis gave on artificial dying. She is the president of the Pacesetters 4-H Club, junior leader for the Adopt a Highway campaign and a youth advisor, in addition to showing livestock and participating in craft projects.

“I got involved in 4-H because I have always loved animals,” said McInnis. “I also love the friends you make and the experience you gain. I have encouraged a lot of kids I know to join.”

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.

“I am really thankful for Andrea Raymond, a 4-H volunteer,” said McInnis. “I keep my animals at her house, and she has helped me so much.

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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