Corn Marketing Program Grows 4-H Commitment
Since 2015, the Corn Marketing Program of Michigan has grown its commitment to 4-H by providing general support for statewide 4-H programs in addition to its annual sponsorship of the 4-H Renewable Energy Camp.
“We see those individuals who go through programs like 4-H – they are so much better prepared for life,” said Jim Zook, executive director of the Corn Marketing Program of Michigan (CMPM).
The 4-H Renewable Energy Camp is a week-long event at Michigan State University each summer where youth learn about solar, wind and bioenergy from experts in the field. Youth also visit renewable energy production sites.
“Young people that attend the 4-H Renewable Energy Camp are typically from non-rural areas. It is a great way to expose youth to agriculture and show the great careers in both renewable energy and agricultural fields,” Zook said.
Ninety-seven percent of 4-H Renewable Energy Camp participants surveyed reported that the camp prepared them to attend college, and 89 percent indicated that they were more likely to pursue a career in the renewable energy field as a result of attending.
“Better preparing young people for our working world is a way we can make our industry better. 4-H gives them practical experience and teaches our youth that if you work hard you will be rewarded for your work,” he added.
Prior to his role at CMPM, Zook served as a crop agent for MSU Extension and later as Tuscola County Extension director (CED). He was born and raised on his family’s farm in central Illinois and received a bachelor’s degree from Illinois State University. He worked in the farm supply business before to moving to Michigan in 1999. He helped facilitate discussions for Michigan Corn Processors that eventually led to the state’s first ethanol facility, in Caro, and then helped co-found and manage the ethanol facility in Woodbury.
“As a former CED myself, I know the impact 4-H has as a whole,” Zook said. “There are so many great 4-H programs throughout the state. We give to the foundation to allow it to meet the needs of 4-H as they arise. Youth learn life skills, common sense, problem solving, working with others – all skills which are critical to surviving. 4-H accomplishes all of that.
“We are helping build the foundation we so desperately need when it comes to future policymakers and businesses. We look to 4-H and youth programs to help build future leaders today,” Zook said. “It’s a two-way street – we know if we help give to youth today, they will strive to be better tomorrow.”
The Corn Marketing Program works to grow the corn industry in Michigan through foreign and domestic market development, promotion, education and research that stimulates the demand for corn.
“We look for new markets, educate policymakers and help our farmers be more profitable. Our mission is also about empowering tomorrow’s growers and helping them pave the way for the future.”
For every bushel of corn grown in Michigan and sold, one penny comes to the CMPM to be used for research, education, market development and promotion. The CMPM was enacted in March 1993 after farmers across the state petitioned the director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture (MDA) to develop a check-off program for commodities grown and sold in Michigan. Every five years the program is voted on by the state’s corn farmers. The MDA director has oversight over the program, and nine farmer members are appointed by the governor for three-year terms on the CMPM Board of Directors.