Macomb County 4-H Youth Council: Making the Match for 4-H
This year the Macomb County 4-H Youth Council joined the Make the Match County 4-H Endowment Campaign as a leading contributor and established the Macomb County 4-H Endowment Fund.
The Macomb County 4-H Youth Council is made up of five teens representing the youth voice of 4-H in Macomb County.
“In 2013, five youth came together to become the first youth council in Macomb County. We figured that 4-H is a youth-led organization, so we should have our youth leading the decision making,” said Maggie Bohm, Macomb County 4-H Youth Council president and Macomb County 4-H’er.
“The first year, we focused on giving out scholarships for 4-H Exploration Days and running fundraisers at fair. This year, we had more of a base, so we offered a few more workshops and
revamped our fundraisers,” she said. In previous years, the Macomb County 4-H Youth Council raised money through the annual livestock sale, photo booths and a petting farm held at the county fair.
“Our previous fundraiser was a photo booth with hay bales and a cute country setting, and people would donate money for us to take their photograph. Because of cell phones, though, it wasn’t working out that great, so we started brainstorming new ideas,” Bohm said.
“We noticed the midway and how the vendors don’t open until noon, but most of the 4-H’ers are up and ready at 9 a.m. We thought about how we could meet the exhibitors’ and parents’ needs with a coffee cart full of fruit, coffee and other snacks,” she said.
The coffee cart was one of the successful fund-raising ventures that made the endowment donation possible. Additionally, the youth council decided to use saved money more wisely.
“We had quite a large chunk of money saved up from when the leadership association was running the feeding farm. It was sitting in the bank, not even earning interest, so we decided to put it to better use with the endowment fund,” Bohm said.
“I think the endowment is so important because it’s helping us think about our future. We don’t know what’s happening with government funding and if it’s going to be around for much longer. By setting this money aside, we’re hoping that the interest alone will be able to support 4-H and keep things running,” she said. “That’s the biggest reason we decided to do it.”
Annual earnings from the endowment fund’s investment can provide annual support for current 4-H program delivery, including scholarships for 4-H participation fees and youth to attend out-ofcounty learning experiences, the development of new programs and learning materials, or any future areas of great need to advance the county 4-H program.
“The endowment is a huge opportunity to have a large amount of money matched,” said Liz Duran, Macomb County MSU Extension 4-H program coordinator. “I brought up the idea of donating to the endowment. The youth council decided together by votes that this would be a wonderful opportunity to secure the financial future of 4-H in Macomb County,” she said.
“I trust in [the foundation’s] decision-making skills to successfully make a profit. We figured out what we spent last year and looked at the interest of the campaign, and it more than covers what we spent in a year programming,” Duran said. “We know that you can’t continue to spend without a source of income. At this point in Macomb County 4-H, the interest from the endowment alone will keep us sustainable,” she said.
“I like to see the kids understand how the endowment works and let them see why it was such a wise decision to invest in,” she added.
“There is no other program like 4-H in the world in terms of youth development. I believe in all higher education and all youth development programs, but now that I’ve worked with 4-H for so long, I clearly see the difference,” she said. “The youth are our future, and it’s important that we provide them with lots of support and opportunity.”
Macomb County is one of 31 counties participating in the Make the Match County 4-H Endowment campaign. Through October 2016, participating counties had received commitments totaling $798,179. (See map for the breakdown by county.) The Make the Match campaign officially launched July 1, 2013, with the benefit of an endowment match pool contributed by gifts from the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation, the Rollin M. Gerstacker Foundation and individual leadership donors totaling nearly $800,000.
County totals have nearly exceeded that amount. Qualifying county 4-H endowment gifts will be matched until Dec. 31, 2016. The matching funds will be suspended thereafter, unless additional match pool funds are received. The Michigan 4-H Foundation continues to seek funding to grow the match pool to $1 million.