Children and Youth Programming: Preparing Children & Youth for the Future

MSU Extension's goal is that every Michigan child is prepared for a healthy and productive life. Children and youth programming is in five areas: capacity building for youth programs, workforce development, enhancing science literacy, and leadership.

For more than 100 years, Michigan State University (MSU) Extension has been helping people address critical issues, needs and opportunities by delivering the vast knowledge and resources of MSU directly to individuals, communities and businesses. Seeking to improve lives and the state overall, MSU Extension focuses on four key area of importance: leveraging natural and human assets, enhancing agriculture and agribusiness, improving health and nutrition for Michigan residents, and preparing Michigan’s children and youth for the future. 

With a goal of ensuring every Michigan child is prepared with the knowledge, tools and skills to lead a healthy and productive life, MSU Extension’s children and youth programming uses the experiential learning model through which children learn best. This hands-on, learn-by-doing programming is concentrated in five core areas: capacity building for youth development programs, career exploration and workforce development, child and family development, enhancing science literacy, and leadership and civic engagement.

Delivered through webinars, face-to-face workshops and other mechanisms, MSU Extension offers a variety of training, curricula and materials to support the development of these key programming areas.

Building Capacity for Youth Programs

Through this priority area, MSU Extension seeks to provide a variety of capacity-building tools and services to 4-H and other youth development programs across the state. As a result, the people and organizations that support Michigan’s youth are better equipped to prepare young people for future educational, career and life success. Resources and trainings in this priority area focus club development, volunteerism, mentoring and other emerging topics of importance to youth development programs.

Developing Civically Engaged Leaders

MSU Extension provides programs and services that help youth become leaders in a globally connected and multicultural world while developing a commitment to civic service and responsibility. As a result, Michigan youth understand and respect the culture of others and are prepared to respond to local and global issues through leadership, civic engagement and volunteerism. Resources and trainings in this priority area focus on leadership development, global citizenship and civic education and engagement.

Enhancing Science Literacy

Through this priority area, MSU Extension seeks to engage youth and the adults who serve them in hands-on learning that cultivates an understanding of the process of science, or how science works, and increases their knowledge of science content and topics. As a result, youth are better prepared for success now and in the future. Resources and trainings in this priority area focus on animal science, environmental and outdoor education, plants, soils and gardening, and science and engineering.

Equipping Young People for Success Through Career Exploration and Workforce Preparation 

MSU Extension provides programs and services that help youth explore future careers and entrepreneurship while enhancing their financial literacy and developing important skills for the workforce. As a result, Michigan youth are better prepared to make important decisions about their professional future, ready to contribute to the workforce and able to take fiscal responsibility in their personal lives. Resources and trainings in this priority area focus on career preparation, entrepreneurship and money management.

Supporting Child and Family Development

Through this priority area, MSU Extension offers resources that support families in a variety of ways. From helping parents and caregivers increase early childhood science, math, pre-literacy and social and emotional skills in young children to developing critical life skills and healthy behaviors in youth of all ages, MSU Extension works to ensure Michigan’s families are stronger and children are prepared to excel in school and life. Resources and trainings in this priority area focus on preparing for school success in early childhood, social and emotional health in young children, family education and support, healthy youth and life skills education for adult volunteers working with youth.

Contact Us 

For more information about specific programming areas, visit or contact the following:

  • Capacity building for youth development programs:
    • Volunteering and Mentoring or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).
  • Leadership and civic engagement programs:
    • Leadership, Citizenship and Service, Global and Cultural Education or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).
  • Career exploration and workforce preparation:
    • Careers and Entrepreneurship or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).
  • Science literacy programs:
    • Animal Science, Environmental and Outdoor Education, Science and Engineering or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).
  • Child and family development programs:
    • Early Childhood Development, Healthy Youth, Life Skills or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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