Children and Youth Impacts: Michigan 4-H Has Something for Everyone

Each year, more than 200,000 Michigan young people participate in 4-H through various activities, clubs, groups, programs and events.

The Numbers

4-H Youth Development is a program of Michigan State University (MSU) Extension. Each year, more than 200,000 Michigan young people participate in 4-H through various activities, clubs, groups, programs and events. As they engage in these unique learning experiences, 4-H’ers explore their passions and interests while growing confidence, leadership skills and a sense of responsibility. In the 2015-2016 program year, more than 209,000 youth engaged in 4-H programming with:

  • 262,000 experiences related to science, engineering and technology.
  • 88,000 experiences related to citizenship, leadership, cultural education and communication.
  • 118,000 experiences related to food, nutrition, safety and other personal development programs.

Where 4-H Grows

From the farms to the towns, and from the suburbs to the cities, 4-H youth come from every corner of the state:

  • 39 percent are rural nonfarm residents or come from towns of less than 10,000 people.
  • 30 percent live in cities and suburbs of more than 50,000 people.
  • 20 percent live in towns and cities of 10,000 to 50,000 people.
  • 11 percent live on farms.

4-H Volunteers

Michigan 4-H youth are supported by caring volunteers who give their time in a variety of ways – as club or group leaders, mentors, chaperones, professional skills trainers and more!

  • Nearly 16,000 Michigan residents volunteered with 4-H in the past year alone.
  • 4-H trained more than 1,100 volunteers in the 2015-2016 program year.

Quotes from Program Participants

“It was very beneficial. I gained many valuable life lessons and skills that I can apply to my personal life.” - Iosco County 4-H’er

“To know that there is a generation out there with empathy built in is huge. As a parent, it is huge to know that there are good people in this world, and 4-H is helping to create this kind of good in our youth.” - Michelle Peel, Lapeer County 4-H Parent and volunteers

Finding One’s Way With 4-H

Megan Miller is a 12-year Van Buren County 4-H’er who recently graduated from high school. Over the years, Megan has participated in companion animal, rabbits and cavies, and other small animal projects. But for Megan, her 4-H experiences were more than just a fun pastime – they were a lifeline that helped her develop her confidence, overcome anxiety and find her way in life. As she neared her high school graduation and conclusion of her 4-H career, Megan took time to reflect on her 4-H experience and the impact it had on her life.

“As a young girl, I was never very good at speaking to other people. I struggled to express myself. I struggled to make friends. I struggled to be myself. Until one day, I would find a pledge and learn to recite it. Eventually it would become part of me. A pledge that would allow me to meet people and would change my life forever. Soon my life became modeled around four pillars: head, heart, hands and health. Years later, 4-H has allowed me to meet some very special people and meet some of my very best friends. But 4-H has become more than just making new friends and learning to be more confident. 4-H is about expanding my life and becoming a better me.”

4-H as a Family Experience

Clinton County’s Dawn Lawless is a proud 4-H advocate and supporter. But as the mom of a first generation 4-H’er, there was a time when Lawless knew little to nothing about the program and what it could provide her children and family. Now, years later, Lawless is a firm believer of the benefits of 4-H.

“I’m thankful that my kids were introduced to 4-H. As a mom, I learned right alongside them and it was so much fun! The reward is huge for the kids, and my kids have benefited so much from 4-H. There is no program you can put your kids in that is better than 4-H. It teaches them responsibility, independence, hard work as an individual but also brings them full circle in working with a team. I’ve never seen kids work together like they do in 4-H. They lend a helping hand without being asked. The older ones help the younger ones. It’s just been a great experience for our family.”

MSU Extension Statewide Impact

In 2016, the state’s $60.2 million investment in MSU AgBioResearch and MSU Extension generated more than $1 billion for Michigan residents. Every dollar the state invested in AgBioResearch and MSU Extension leveraged an additional $2.68 in federal funds and external contracts, grants and other revenues, including nearly $1.1 million leveraged by MSU Extension children and youth programs alone. As a result, MSU Extension and MSU AgBioResearch are able to serve Michigan residents with a benefit/cost ratio of 19:1 when adding in other social and economic benefits too.

These cost benefits are huge, but they are not the only benefits that MSU Extension brings to the state. Through MSU Extension 4-H Youth Development, more than 209,000 youth learn compassion, respect, leadership skills, responsibility, the value of hard work and other critical abilities. In addition, MSU Extension early childhood education programs prepare thousands of Michigan’s youngest children for school success.

MSU is an affirmative-action, equal-opportunity employer, committed to achieving excellence through a diverse workforce and inclusive culture that encourages all people to reach their full potential. Michigan State University Extension programs and materials are open to all without regard to race, color, national origin, gender, gender identity, religion, age, height, weight, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, marital status, family status or veteran status. Issued in furtherance of MSU Extension work, acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Jeffrey W. Dwyer, Director, MSU Extension, East Lansing, MI 48824. This information is for educational purposes only. Reference to commercial products or trade names does not imply endorsement by MSU Extension or bias against those not mentioned.

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