Michigan 4-H Youth Programs in Detroit are bright spot amidst city’s problems

posted on August 28, 2013 1:31pm

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Michigan 4-H Youth Programs in Detroit are bright spot amidst city’s problems 

EAST LANSING, Mich.  – Young people in Detroit who participate in 4-H youth development programs through Michigan State University Extension are stepping up to tackle some of the biggest issues facing the city. However, all that work could be threatened by proposed legislation that could end sources of federal funding to Detroit.

Through 4-H, young people across the city are planting and maintaining urban gardens, learning about citizenship and leadership, starting entrepreneurial businesses, and addressing top issues including poverty, violence and homelessness.

U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin are speaking out against current proposed legislation that has the potential to end the federal grant money that reaches Detroit and other financially distressed communities that “default on their obligations.” The legislation could also affect important youth development programs such as 4-H.

Sen. Stabenow, a 4-H alumna, is working to get the word out about the tremendous amount of youth development taking place in Detroit, despite the burdens the city is facing.

As a part of 4-H Youth in Governance clubs, Detroit 4-H’ers have explored the most important issues facing youth and Detroit communities and have taken active roles in finding ways to address these issues. For example, youth in Detroit clubs participated in a community panel discussion about gun violence and hosted a town hall meeting, inviting community leaders and school administrators to participate. One 4-H member wrote a play speaking against violence, which the club performed at the meeting. These clubs demonstrate civic engagement by seeing local issues and creating action plans that allow their voices to be heard.

Partnerships with the Detroit Public Schools have resulted in in-school gardening and nutrition programs at local schools and the Detroit 4-H Center, and hands-on science programs during 21st Century After School clubs. Young people who participate in these programs learn valuable skills and have safe environments to go to during their out-of-school time.

Detroit youth who are part of 4-H mentoring programs are matched with trained mentors in one-on-one and small-group experiences. These young people build important life skills that help them be successful in school, explore careers in science, engineering and technology through the 4-H TechWizards program, and engage in a wide range of service projects with their mentors that benefit the city of Detroit.

“4-H young people have the ability and desire to make their communities a better place, changing the future of Detroit and the world,” said Julie Chapin, Michigan 4-H Youth Development state program leader.  “For nearly 50 years, 4-H has been part of Detroit urban communities, helping youth gain the abilities that allow them to make a positive difference. Michigan 4-H staff members and volunteers work with young people and their families as they explore solutions to the challenges facing Detroit and the rest of Michigan. ” 

4-H is an important program for the youth of Detroit during these difficult times.  According to a 10-year longitudinal study conducted by Tufts University, young people participating in 4-H, when compared with their non-4-H peers, are:

  • Nearly four times more likely to contribute positively to their communities.
  • Two times more likely to be civically active.
  • Two times more likely to report frequent engagement in healthy behaviors.

“We also know that 4-H young people in Michigan are 60 percent less likely to engage in risky behaviors, such as drinking, smoking or doing drugs,” Chapin added. “Participants in 4-H, with their strong leadership skills, will help make the difference to Detroit and all of Michigan.”

About Michigan 4-H

Approximately 200,000 Michigan youth (ages 5 to 19) and 25,000 adult volunteers representing every type of community and household and from every Michigan county participate in MSU Extension 4-H Youth Development. Science and technology, healthy food and lifestyles, citizenship and service, leadership development, entrepreneurship, money management, and environmental and outdoor education are just some of the pathways that 4-H uses to help youth discover their passions and take their place in Michigan’s future.

About 4-H

4-H is a community of 7 million young people across the globe learning and developing leadership, citizenship and life skills. National 4-H Council is the private-sector, nonprofit partner of 4-H National Headquarters located at the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) within the U.S. Department of Agriculture  In the United States, 4-H programs are implemented by the 109 land-grant universities and the Cooperative Extension System through its 3,100 local Extension offices across the country. Overseas, 4-H programs are active in more than 50 countries on six continents around the world. For more information about 4-H, go to www.4-H.org


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