State 4-H Leadership Council Provides Statewide Youth Voice
Established in 2015, the Michigan 4-H State Youth Leadership Council (SYLC) is a statewide leadership opportunity for 4-H youth to serve as representatives of the Michigan 4-H program, promoting 4-H through state and local activities and providing a youth voice and perspective on the development of 4-H programs and curricula.
Oakland County 4-H’er Tom Purves is a current SYLC member who has applied his leadership experiences in Michigan 4-H and SYLC to a new leadership role as president of the Fifth-Third Bank Michigan State Fair Youth Council.
“The 4-H State Youth Leadership Council is a group of kids who are excelled leaders in their 4-H activities who come together with other kids from around the state to talk about how we could improve 4-H statewide and participate in leadership and communication development programs,” Purves said. “As a member, I wanted to take my 4-H experience beyond the county level and gain a greater understanding of 4-H around the state. State Youth Leadership Council is especially helping me to meet other people. It’s a great networking opportunity!”
When asked how 4-H and SYLC prepared him for his new role as president of the Fifth-Third Bank Michigan State Fair Youth Council, Purves said, “First, it taught me how to run meetings. Second, it helped me learn how to communicate with people and helped with my delivery on certain topics. I’ve learned how to take charge of events and have confidence to lead different types of activities with groups of people I don’t know. I learned how to listen to other people’s perspectives as well. That way when you’re in a group of people, all people feel satisfied with the final result or experience of what they’ve participated in.”
In 2016, the 25-member SYLC met monthly using online technology and twice in person during 4-H events to build their sense of team and increase their individual and collective leadership and promotional skills. The council organized six service projects in their communities, traveled to the Fifth-Third Bank Michigan State Fair, and helped facilitate sessions at the 4-H Youth Leadership and Global Citizenship Spectacular Conference at Kettunen Center.
Additionally, SYLC members facilitated 4-H displays at the Michigan State University President’s Donor Reception preceding the MSU-Furman football game Sept. 2. SYLC members also served as auction stewards for the first dessert auction during the Michigan 4-H Foundation’s Town and Country Gala.
The dessert auction generated over $3,000 to support the State Youth Leadership Council. Thanks to an additional grant from the Dow Chemical Company Foundation, a $10,000 check was presented to SYLC members Loren King and Emily Kittendorf at the Michigan 4-H Foundation’s Oct. 7 Annual Membership Meeting. These funds will help defray costs for SYLC members to attend National 4-H Congress and other state and national events throughout the year.
“It’s no secret that the best promoters of programs are the participants themselves. Far more impactful than paid staff members, 4-H youth members are able to tell their story and share the impact of programs with prospective clients and stakeholders,” said Jackelyn Martin, 4-H Extension educator and SYLC co-facilitator.