Michigan 4-H has Something for Everyone!

Highlights of MSU Extension's 4-H Youth Development program in 2015.

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 2014-2015 program year:

  • 187,500 youth participated in science, engineering and technology programs.
  • 96,600 youth participated in citizenship, leadership, cultural education and communication programs.
  • 66,700 youth participated in food, nutrition and personal safety 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:

  • 38.5 percent are rural nonfarm residents or come from towns of less than 10,000 people.
  • 29 percent live in cities and suburbs of more than 50,000 people.
  • 23 percent live in towns and cities of 10,000 to 50,000 people.
  • 9.5 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!

  • More than 17,000 Michigan residents volunteered with 4-H in the past year alone.
  • 4-H trained more than 2,100 volunteers in the 2014-2015 program year.

Quotes from Program Participants

“4-H has taught me life skills that have impacted my life and made me a role model for others.”
  • Renee Souva, Branch County 4-H’er
“If your kids are not involved in 4-H, consider it. My daughters have learned a lot, including discipline, organization, planning, pride, humility and sportsmanship. These valuable life skills my children have learned will help them as they grow and become adults.”
  • Carol Hoag, Gladwin County 4-H parent

Building Futures with 4-H

Theresa Kunkle is a 4-H alum and current 4-H volunteer in Branch County. She credits 4-H with providing her the skills and opportunities to advance beyond difficult challenges she faced in her youth. Today, Theresa volunteers as a way to give back to the program that gave so much to her. As she brought new members into her 4-H club in 2015, she found her story coming full-circle.

“I am the leader of a small 4-H club and this year, we were excited to gain two new members. These girls came from a very humble background and seeing them, I was reminded of myself. As a child, 4-H had been my escape from the realities of home. Through 4-H, I had an opportunity like no other, and it wasn’t until my teen years that I realized that 4-H was helping me to build my new future. I relived that experience as I looked at these young girls. They too had found their escape from reality and are just beginning to grasp a future that is now bright with possibilities. 4-H isn’t just a project at the fair, it’s about creating leaders: giving these kids the skills, character and opportunities to rise up and become the amazing individuals they are capable of becoming.”

4-H Gardening Provides Youth with Fun and More

In 2015, the mother of a 10 year-old special-needs child got her child involved with a 4-H neighborhood gardening club in Kalamazoo County. Faced with challenges at home, the mother was grateful for the outlet the club provided her son and noted it had made an uncharacteristically impressive impact on him. “He had a fantastic time. The timing was also really great since we’ve gone through some very painful family changes and he’s always looked at gardening as a hobby, outlet and one of his favorite interests. So every Saturday afternoon, he got to escape from a sad situation at home, get out in the fresh air, and do what he loves best while learning more about plants, harvesting and gardening. He’s been asking for the last few months when it would be time to go out and get the beds ready for spring planting. For him to not only remember but maintain such intense interest both in his club leader and the garden is really impressive.”

MSU Extension Statewide Impact

In 2015, the state’s $56.6 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 $2.59 in federal funds and external contracts, grants and other revenues, including nearly $1.3 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 18:1.

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 200,000 youth learn lifelong skills, develop leadership abilities and discover the value of community service. 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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