St. Joseph County youth takes unique approach to leadership

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

Loren King, St. Joseph County youth.

Loren King, St. Joseph County youth.

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 pressure is a true testament to their character. Take Burr Oak native Loren King for example.

King, 18, credits his enrollment in Michigan 4-H, a program of Michigan State University Extension, with helping him overcome adversity and build confidence along the way. The life skills taught through 4-H helped King learn to work with others, overcome challenges and complete jobs once he started them.

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

“When my mom was pregnant with me, she served as a 4-H volunteer and goat leader, so you could say I was involved with 4-H even before I was born,” says King. “I started out with goats as soon as I was old enough to hold them. Then, I started to help and coach other kids with their goats and eventually expanded to more projects from there.”

Throughout the years, King said he has held nearly every leadership position available in 4-H and is involved at the club, county and state level as well as participating in public speaking events.

“Before I started participating in public speaking events in 4-H I couldn’t even order for myself at a restaurant without my parents,” says King. “My mom really encouraged me to get involved in public speaking and club office, and I figured out I really like it.”

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 and 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.

“My 4-H leader, Debbie Adamski, is one of the best people I know,” says King. “She helps kids in the community raise animals when they might not otherwise have the chance. She attends every event and makes sure kids in the community have what they need. I have never met anyone like her, and watching her interact with others is an inspiration.”

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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