Want to make a difference in your community?
Through its pledge of "hands to larger service," 4-H has historically given back to the community by encouraging young people and adults to volunteer. In 4-H, service is commonly defined as the voluntary action of an individual or a group of individuals without pay. Service to the community – through food drives, raking the yard of an elderly neighbor, adopt-a-highway programs, teens teaching younger youth, teens mentoring children, or youth determining community needs and helping solve community problems – helps young people learn caring, leadership and citizenship.
"Every year millions of Americans volunteer at more than one million non-profit organizations throughout the United States."
(Volunteering: 101 Ways You Can Improve the World and Your Life, by Douglas M. Lawson. Alti Publishing, 1998)
Why is it important for all of us to be involved in service?
Our U.S. society is based on the idea that we are all responsible for the well-being of our community, country and world. Even before the founding of our country, the willingness to serve was evident in the hearts of many. Later the Great Depression brought out opportunities for service throughout the nation, and the forming of the Peace Corps in 1960 by President John F. Kennedy further reinforced the eagerness of citizens to get involved in helping others. While the people served certainly benefit from community service, the volunteers who engage in serving others benefit positively in many ways. Michigan 4-H Youth Development continues in that tradition by involving young people in a variety of community service-learning projects and programs.
What youth gain from community service learning
By giving back to their communities, young people can:
- Learn the value of helping others.
- Develop leadership, communication, organizational skills and a sense of empowerment.
- Learn how important the connection is between subject matter and life in the community.
- Learn how to cooperate with one another and work as a team with diverse groups of people including adults, peers and others with different backgrounds and experiences.
- Succeed in an area different from academics, athletics or popularity.
- Build self-esteem from the positive results of their service.
- Develop problem-solving and decision-making skills by applying their knowledge to real-world situations.
- Develop a sense of being responsible for their community and a sense that citizenship requires them to actively participate in their community.
- Receive recognition for their efforts and possibly college scholarships.
- Experience the world of work.
Not only do young people gain by being involved in community service, the clubs and groups that they are in also experience benefits from planning and carrying out service projects.
What clubs gain from community service learning
Carrying out service activities can strengthen a club or group because it:
- Boosts member commitment and involvement by giving members meaningful activities.
- Can involve families and youth in a joint activity.
- Fulfills the "hands to larger service" part of the 4-H pledge.
- Builds unity among members, allowing them to function better as a team.
- Allows members to get to know one another better as they work together on a common goal.
- Helps youth become invested in their club and community.
- Shows the community how youth can be resources and how they can get things done.
For more information on how to get involved as a youth or volunteer, contact your county MSU Extension office or:
4-H Youth Development
March 16, 2017 | Brian Wibby | While focused on global food security and hunger, the World Food Prize Michigan Youth Institute includes a wide variety of social, environmental and economic issues that appeal to youth.
March 6, 2017 | Andy Northrop | Four communities in Michigan’s Thumb region will undergo the MSU Extension First Impressions program to assess tourism strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in their community.
March 6, 2017 | Brian Wibby | 4-H True Leaders in Service initiative seeks to engage all 4-H members and clubs in community service activities during April.
February 28, 2017 | Justin Selden | Huron Pines AmeriCorps member to serve with MSU Extension and Michigan Sea Grant expanding outreach capacity.
February 16, 2017 | Brian Wibby | Houghton County 4-H member shares what’s next for her future leadership and civic engagement endeavors.
February 16, 2017 | Brian Wibby | Houghton County 4-H member shares her passions for making her community and world a better place through her remarkable leadership and civic engagement endeavors.
February 16, 2017 | Brian Wibby | Houghton County 4-H’er Ganna Omar isn’t waiting to become an adult to be a leader in her community—she’s being a leader today.
February 2, 2017 | Makena Schultz | Discover the aspects of 4-H Capitol Experience that make it unique in Michigan. Learn how to register your high school youth today!
January 3, 2017 | Sheila Smith | 4-H provides afterschool opportunities in rural communities.
December 27, 2016 | Brian Wibby | Michigan 4-H provides many educational opportunities for youth to develop the four most important skills they need to be successful 21st century learners, workers and citizens.
Find an Expert
Apr 3, 2017 – Apr 7, 2017 | Max Thompson Family Resource Center, 11370 Hupp Ave, Warren, MI 48088
Apr 3, 2017 – Apr 3, 2017 | Dickinson County Library, 401 Iron Mountain St, Iron Mountain, MI 49801
May 6, 2017 | Sanilac County 4-H Fairgrounds, 260 Dawson St, Sandusky, MI 48471
May 11, 2017 | Michigan State University
May 20, 2017 – May 21, 2017 | Kettunen Center, 14901 4-H Dr., Tustin, MI 49688
Jun 21, 2017 – Jun 23, 2017 | Michigan State University Campus, East Lansing, MI 48824
Aug 6, 2017 – Aug 12, 2017 | MSU Upper Peninsula Research and Extension Center, E3774 University Dr., Chatham, MI 49816