During the campaign period, paper clovers are sold for $1 at checkout, with proceeds benefiting 4-H programs where each store is located.
The spring 4-H Paper Clover Campaign begins April 26 at local Tractor Supply Company (TSC) stores. During the campaign period, paper clovers are sold for $1 at checkout, with proceeds benefiting 4-H programs where each store is located.
“For many years, the Paper Clover fundraiser has allowed us to provide thousands of 4-H youth across the country greater access to 4-H programs,” said Jennifer Sirangelo, president and CEO, National 4-H Council. “We are thrilled about our continued partnership with Tractor Supply Company—it drives the excitement of local community participation and support for 4-H programs, and therefore the success of the 4-H Paper Clover Campaign.”
The 4-H Paper Clover fundraiser, a national partnership between TSC and 4-H, has been held in the spring and fall of each year since 2010 at each of Tractor Supply Company’s 1,600 stores – including the 81 stores in Michigan. Thanks to this partnership with TSC, more than $522,000 has been raised in Michigan since 2010 to support 4-H locally through the 4-H Paper Clover fundraiser.
From April 26 through May 7, customers at TSC stores will be able to buy paper 4-H clovers for $1 at checkout. Once again, funds donated during the campaign will be tracked online and recorded by state and by store. Visit www.tractorsupply.com/4-H for more information on the spring 2017 4-H Paper Clover Campaign and to view the donation tracker.
“The entire team at Tractor Supply is excited for the opportunity to team up with 4-H for the eighth consecutive year of Paper Clover fundraisers,” said Christi Korzekwa, senior vice president of marketing at TSC. “The support of our dedicated customers and team members has made a powerful, tangible effect on the lives of many 4-H students, who use 4-H programs to develop valuable life skills.”
The most recent Paper Clover event, held Oct. 5-16, raised $871,771 nationwide for 4-H; of that, $43,586 was donated in Michigan, ranking it sixth in the nation. Seventy percent of those funds supported county 4-H programs, 10 percent supported 4-H volunteer and teen leadership training workshops, 5 percent went for state 4-H programs, 5 percent went to the Michigan 4-H Foundation, and 10 percent went to National 4-H Council for underwriting the cost of the program.
The Gaylord TSC store in Otsego County was the top-selling Paper Clover store last fall. The store has been recognized as one of the top stores nationally as well.
“Our 4-H council organizes shifts for 4-H clubs to come in and sell clovers, usually for two hours at a time,” said Devora Davis, Otsego County MSU Extension 4-H program coordinator. “Sometimes clubs bring projects to do or animals to show. It helps having kids present as much as possible because they talk directly to the customers.
“I also use this time to recruit youth and adults to 4-H,” Davis added.
Davis also credits the Gaylord TSC store as being very supportive of the Paper Clover fundraiser and 4-H in general. The store not only provides visibility for 4-H during the Paper Clover fundraiser but also offers opportunities at other times throughout the year for club fundraisers and promotion at the store.
“The TSC employees are always helpful and even contact 4-H staff or volunteers when other events are going on in the store to see if we want to help out and support agriculture,” Davis said. “If there is a special event at the store, they ask if a club wants to have a bake sale to be present.”
The proceeds from the Paper Clover fundraiser in OtsegoCounty provide scholarships for 4-H members to attend local 4-H camps, 4-H workshops at KettunenCenter and 4-H Exploration Days at MSU.
The fall 4-H Paper Clover Campaign will launch on Oct. 4 at local Tractor Supply Company (TSC) stores across the nation. The $1 clovers will be available at checkout until Oct. 15. Funds will support county, state and national 4-H programming.
“For many years, the Paper Clover fundraiser has allowed us to provide thousands of 4-H youth across the country greater access to 4-H programs,” said Jennifer Sirangelo, president and CEO, National 4-H Council. “We are thrilled about our continued partnership with Tractor Supply Company as it drives the excitement of local community participation and support for 4-H programs, and therefore the success of the 4-H Paper Clover Campaign.”
The 4-H Paper Clover Campaign, held biannually in the spring and fall since 2010, takes place at TSC’s 1,600 stores. This close partnership between 4-H and TSC allowed Michigan 4-H to raise $38,025 of the $826,191 raised nationally in the latest campaign.
“The Paper Clover fundraiser is a significant part of Tractor Supply Company’s support of 4-H programs throughout the communities we serve,” said Christi Korzekwa, vice president, marketing, TSC. “We are proud to be able to provide essential funding to more than 1,000 county 4-H programs. These programs make a positive impact on young people that last a lifetime. The continued success of the Tractor Supply Paper Clover fundraisers demonstrate the importance of our 4-H partnership with our customers, team members and communities.”
Seventy percent of the funds raised supports county 4-H programs; 10 percent supports 4-H volunteer and teen leadership training workshops; 5 percent will go to state 4-H programs; 5 percent will go to the Michigan 4-H Foundation and 10 percent to National 4-H Council for underwriting the cost of the program. All funds donated during the fall campaign can be tracked online and will be recorded by state and by store. Visit www.tractorsupply.com/4-H for more information about the fall 2017 4-H Paper Clover Campaign and to view the donation tracker.
The Michigan 4-H Foundation is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization that supports Michigan 4-H Youth Development. For more information about the Michigan 4-H Foundation, visit http://www.mi4hfdtn.org. Michigan 4-H Youth Development is the youth-serving program of Michigan State University Extension. For more information about Michigan 4-H, visit www.4h.msue.msu.edu. National 4-H Council is the private sector, nonprofit partner of 4-H National Headquarters located at the National Institute for Food and Agriculture within the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Learn more about 4-H at www.4-H.org.
Tractor Supply Co. operates more than 1,600 stores in 49 states. TSC stores are focused on supplying the lifestyle needs of farmers and ranchers. For more information on TSC, visit www.TractorSupply.com.
From Vantage, Fall 2015
Since 2010, 4-H participants at 4-H Renewable Energy Camp have explored ideas, research and opportunities in the field of energy as it relates to natural resources and agriculture.
The 2015 4-H Renewable Energy Camp, held July 6-10 at Michigan State University, was sponsored in part by the Corn Marketing Program of Michigan, HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative and the Michigan Soybean Promotion Committee. Gifts to 4-H Renewable Energy Camp support the science literacy priority area for the Campaign for Michigan 4-H’s Future.
During the camp, the 39 youth participants aged 13-19 learned about solar, wind and bioenergy, heard from experts in the field and visited renewable energy production sites.
“The youth spent five days exploring ideas, research and hands-on opportunities in the field of energy,” said Insa Raymond, MSU Extension educator responsible for 4-H Renewable Energy Camp. “They interacted with leading scientists and engineers at MSU and in the industry, who provided insights into the latest innovations in biofuel production and technology and other alternatives to fossil-based fuels such as solar and wind energy. The field of renewable energy and related technology and career opportunities are growing and changing fast. At the Renewable Energy Camp, youth were exposed to degrees, jobs and career opportunities within this exciting new field.”
The teens visited companies that are taking the latest discoveries of science and turning them into real products that have impact in local communities and around the world. They toured and did hands-on activities at Carbon Green Bioenergy, Kellogg Biological Station, HomeWorks and a substation specializing in the transfer of wind energy.
Natalie Modrich, St. Clair County 4-H’er, has attended the camp three times and will serve as a teen adviser in 2016.
“4-H Renewable Energy Camp is a week filled with non-stop knowledge, hands-on interaction and idea sharing with people from all over Michigan – sometimes even other states,” Modrich said. “It’s a very beneficial and educational yet fun week that is well worth part of your summer vacation.”
Youth also conducted experiments, made biofuel, designed and tested wind turbines, and designed and raced solar-powered cars. Participants were also granted access to many of the resources that the MSU campus has to offer, including many lab tours and faculty presentations.
“My favorite part of 4-H Renewable Energy Camp is the hands-on activities we complete while meeting new people. My first time attending camp, at only 13 years old, I used technology in the labs that I could have only dreamed about,” she said. “Making biofuel for the first time throughout the duration of the week was very educational. I had no idea so many tests had to be done before it went to market.
“We take a plethora of field trips in such a short amount of time; as a result, we are able to experience many real-world scenarios of how renewable energy is affecting our lives every day,” Modrich said.
“My biggest take-away from camp is how much using renewable energy will benefit our future. For example, cutting back on petroleum usage by using biofuel such as ethanol and using earth’s renewable resources,such as wind, water and sun to collect energy,” she said.
“As a teen adviser for next year’s camp, I will help plan and schedule the week. After attending this camp before, I know what we liked and didn’t like. Also, what events or activities may be beneficial to add or replace,” Modrich said.
Modrich is a junior in high school and has been in 4-H for 12 years. She is a member of the Top Hats & Tails 4-H Club and serves as treasurer of the Rustic Ramblers 4-H Club.
“I would like to study materials science and engineering at Iowa State University,” Modrich said.
In fact, 97 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.
To help prepare youth participants for the future, the 4-H Renewable Energy Camp educational activities are also aligned with Michigan education standards and allow youth participants to earn digital badges for their portfolios. Similarly to scouting badges, digital badges visibly represent skills or goals a person has accomplished.
“Instead of wearing the badges, individuals place the digital badges in a digital backpack,” said Jacob DeDecker, associate state 4-H leader and MSU Extension specialist. “Think of it as an online space to keep and sort all your badges. These badges can then show up on Facebook, Twitter and web pages to share with teachers or prospective employers.”
Youth participating in 4-H Renewable Energy Camp have the opportunity to earn digital badges in solar energy, wind energy and bioenergy. Youth research a problem, design a solution and present their findings to the entire camp.
“Learning how to problem solve, work as a team and communicate are important life skills. In addition, youth engaged in these activities meet certain core science competencies that schools try to teach in the classroom,” DeDecker said.
A team of MSU Extension staff members are working on a process to allow youth to receive school credit for the digital badges they earn by learning and demonstrating key competencies during out-of-school time activities such as summer science camps.
“The project is still ongoing, and we have much more to research before an answer is provided, but what we do know is that digital badges offer a unique opportunity for students to show learning accomplishments. We also know that students, schools, after-school providers, colleges and employers all have interest and something to gain by pursuing this concept,” DeDecker said.
A new partnership with Chemical Bank will expand the reach of 4-H youth financial literacy education.
The Money Smart Youth Financial Literacy Program, a new partnership with the Chemical Bank Foundation, provides youth with opportunities to increase their personal financial knowledge, practice money management skills and in turn apply these skills and knowledge to becoming financially smart and secure.
“At Chemical Bank, we believe in the importance of promoting financial literacy with our customers and in our communities, and the earlier people learn these skills in life, the better off they will be in the future,” said Lynn Kerber, Chemical Bank Foundation president. “The 4-H Money Smart Youth project helps youth learn a variety of skills ranging from the basics of saving to more complex skills such as investing, cash flow and understanding credit.”
4-H Money Smart Youth engages youth in financial education learning and also trains adult volunteers on how to engage youth around financial literacy learning. Additionally, Raising Money Smart Children workshops will be offered for parents and children to learn basic money management skills together.
“The exposure to financial education as youth will help young people develop financially smart habits and know how and where to seek out additional information when they are older,” said Laurie Rivetto, MSU Extension 4-H educator. “We ‘don’t know what we don’t know,’ so allowing youth to interact with financial terms, reconcile an account or developing a personal budget exposes them to skills that they will utilize throughout their lives.”
According to the 2015 Consumer Financial Literacy Survey from the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, 70 percent of American adults are worried about their personal finances, and 75 percent agree that they could benefit from advice and answers to everyday financial questions from a professional. Sixty percent of Americans say they continue to spend without a budget. These adult behaviors are very likely a carryover from lack of financial experience as youth.
“Our hope is that youth will feel more prepared and more competent about their finances and less worried about what they are doing than research shows today’s adult is,” Rivetto said.
Chemical Bank’s support helps 4-H engage youth through camps, skill training events and ongoing 4-H educational activities designed to provide real-life experiences and practice in money management to improve youth spending and saving behaviors and risk awareness.
“The partnership with Chemical Bank allows our team to greatly expand the programming that we are doing and to have a specific focus on youth financial education. This has allowed us to develop enhanced programs such as in-depth 4-H treasurer training and money management SPIN clubs. We will be able to have a money management focus during 4-H Exploration Days 2018 through this support,” Rivetto said.
(A 4-H SPIN club is a combination of the concept of special interest groups with the 4-H club model. 4-H SPIN clubs focus on a specific topic – in this case money management – and take place within a specific length of time.)
“This partnership has also allowed us to gather substantial data by the development and implementation of follow-up evaluation processes to learn more about the impact of 4-H financial education work through our team’s direct work and through the impact of our 4-H volunteers,” Rivetto added.
Chemical Bank has been a strong supporter of Michigan 4-H since the mid-1980s, providing statewide support for 4-H and Kettunen Center as well as county 4-H support from local branches.
“In addition to providing youth with opportunities to develop skills like those presented in the Money Smart program, 4-H’s diverse programming and the learning opportunities provided in areas such as engineering, leadership development and community service are valuable skills that can help prepare youth for jobs not only in the financial industry but in a number of different areas as well,” Kerber said.
“The Michigan 4-H Foundation is an organization that is closely aligned with Chemical Bank’s ideals, and we wholeheartedly support 4-H’s focus on youth development. Chemical Bank supports organizations that improve the quality of life in communities where we live, work and play, and we believe in supporting organizations like 4-H who share the same values,” she added.
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.
From Vantage, Fall 2015
Family Farm and Home partnered with Michigan 4-H and the Michigan 4-H Foundation to host a statewide in-store fundraiser to benefit 4-H programming in each of the communities where Family Farm and Home stores are located.
“We appreciate Family Farm and Home’s support of 4-H programs and look forward to continuing to partner on this effort,” said Julie Chapin, state 4-H leader and director of Michigan State University Extension children and youth programs.
From Aug. 29 through Sept. 7, the 32 Family Farm and Home stores in Michigan collectively raised over $6,000 for Michigan 4-H. During this period, Family Farm and Home cashiers asked customers to donate $1 to Michigan 4-H. In return, customers received a coupon and information about 4-H. The funds raised will support 4-H youth development activities in the county where each store resides.
“Our 4-H donation campaign is a great opportunity for both Family Farm and Home and the communities we do business in to support our local 4-H programs,” said Tim Fansler, Family Farm and Home co-president and chief merchandising officer. “We’re proud to be able to give back to an organization that fosters learning and growth in our community’s youth, and we appreciate our relationship with the Michigan 4-H.”
Michigan Farm Bureau (MFB) has continued its longtime sponsorship of the 4-H Award of the Clover program. These resources help local 4-H programs honor 4-H volunteers who reach 20 or more years of service to 4-H. MFB has supported this recognition for nearly five decades.
“We understand the value 4-H provides to Michigan youth,” said Carl Bednarski, Michigan Farm Bureau president. “The program not only gives youth life-long skills and experiences, but allows youth to develop into responsible Michigan citizens. We are excited to continue our support of Michigan’s 4-H program.”
Volunteer recognition is an integral component of the 4-H program. Adult volunteers help youth develop new skills and explore their interests through safe, fun, engaging learning experiences. It is critical to honor the caring adults who give their time to help young people learn and achieve through 4-H.
MFB has shown its commitment to volunteer recognition with the creation of the MFB 4-H Excellence in Agriculture Award – the product of a campaign led by MFB to establish an endowment to honor and recognize outstanding achievements of 4-H volunteers exhibiting excellence in 4-H youth education and leadership development in 4-H agriculture areas. Honorees each designate a $1,000 grant toward a 4-H agricultural program of their choice for volunteer training, supplies or curricula to enhance 4-H locally or statewide.
Eighteen honorees have received the award since its inception in 2007. The 2016 MFB 4-H Excellence in Agriculture Award recipients were Penny Sween, of Leslie, and Hollis and Jill Rockwell, Shelby.
Hollis and Jill Rockwell, Oceana County
Hollis and Jill Rockwell have been involved with 4-H since their youth. Today they are deeply involved with the 4-star Beef 4-H Club, and both hold positions on the Oceana County Farm Bureau, Hollis on the Board of Directors and Jill on the Promotion and Education Committee. Hollis advocates for Michigan’s agricultural needs at the Ag Legislative Breakfast hosted by MSU Extension bi-monthly. Additionally, he currently holds the position of vice president for the Oceana County 4-H Market Livestock Committee. Hollis is the current beef barn superintendent at the Oceana County Fair, and Jill is involved in various projects with Oceana 4-H. She helps organize and run the Oceana County Folk Festival, the Oceana County Farm Bureau Spring Break Day Camp, and the 4-H Community-wide Yard Sale and Bake Sale. Jill is involved in educating 4-H youth in meat quality and selection and also on Michigan’s potato industry. Jill has held the position of treasurer for the 4-H Small Market Animal Association Committee and is currently a member of the Oceana County 4-H Youth Council, helping make decisions for the overall educational goals and growth of Oceana County 4-H.
Penny Sween, Ingham County
Penny Sween has contributed her efforts to 4-H since she was an Ingham County youth 4-H’er. She helped create the Town N County 4-H Club. In addition to being the club administrative leader, she was the Ingham County rabbit superintendent, 4-H council president and member of the Ingham County 4-H Livestock Committee. Sween is an active member of the Michigan State Rabbit Breeders Association and the American Rabbit Breeders Association, and serves on several other state and national breed associations and local rabbit organizations. She is a nationally known and respected rabbit judge and, along with her daughter, raises and shows several types of rabbits. Sween encourages youth to explore their passions and interests and to get involved and engages club members in community service.
To learn more about the MFB 4-H Excellence in Agriculture Award or to nominate a 4-H volunteer, visit http://mi4hfdtn.org/4-h-emerald-awards/michigan-farm-bureau-4-h-excellence-in-agriculture-award. Nominations are due June 1, 2017.
In addition, MFB has continued as a partner of 4-H Capitol Experience for the past three years. 4-H Capitol Experience is a four-day teen conference with a focus on state government and policy.
A new partnership with United Dairy Industry of Michigan provides health-based activities for youth.
The United Dairy Industry of Michigan (UDIM) and Michigan 4-H together provided healthy living learning activities at Meet Up and Eat Up sites across Michigan.
Meet Up and Eat Up is a summer food service program offered across the state to ensure that children in need receive nutritious meals during long school vacations. The program is operated at the local level by program sponsors and is administered by the Michigan Department of Education Office of School Support Services.
“There are many children who are dependent upon school-based meals,” said Emily Mattern, UDIM school nutrition program manager. “We want to be sure that kids have that opportunity during the summer as well.”
In fact, according to the Michigan School Data from the Michigan Department of Education, nearly half of Michigan children are eligible to receive free or reduced-price lunches.
To increase youth participation in the Meet Up and Eat Up program, Michigan 4-H partnered with UDIM to provide healthy learning activities centered around nutrition that include dairy.
“One way that we’ve noticed an increase in the number of meals served is by offering activities for kids,” Mattern said. “So we thought that by partnering with 4-H, we would offer educational, fun activities and help draw in more kids.”
A longtime partner of the summer food service program, UDIM is the umbrella organization for the Dairy Council for Michigan and the American Dairy Association of Michigan, dedicated to providing science-based dairy and nutrition information for a healthier society. They had the funding and curriculum but needed a structured way to deliver the activities to local communities.
“This partnership is very significant and allows 4-H to focus on the fourth ‘H’ – health,” said Kea Norrell-Aitch, MSU Extension 4-H educator. “The kids involved qualify for free or reduced lunches during the school year. Meet Up and Eat Up makes sure the kids have a nutritious lunch during the summer. This was a way to get resources to youth benefitting from the Meet Up and Eat Up program.”
“It makes sense to have programs in place around health to ensure youth are leading healthy lifestyles – not just eating fruits and vegetables, but also eating dairy and a balanced diet overall and are being physically active.”
The project was developed at the beginning of the summer and 4-H quickly responded to deliver the activities.
UDIM identified counties they were interested in piloting the program in. 4-H then looked at counties which already had healthy living programs in place, in order to respond and put the program in place quickly.
The health-based activities were held at six sites in Genesee, Ingham, Saginaw and Wayne counties from mid-June through August 2017. 4-H and UDIM curricula were combined to offer a variety of activities from nutrition and healthy eating to gardening and physical fitness. Each county and site offered slightly different programming on the basis of local resources and needs.
In Saginaw and Genesee counties, the activities primarily focused on nutrition and healthy living.
“Kids would make healthy snacks on-site, then take the recipe home to make with their family,” she said. “Allowing kids to participate in an activity and taking the recipes home to share with parents will help to build a more healthy family.”
The two sites in Ingham County offered both nutrition and physical fitness activities.
“One of the sites had a playground and another site had a field. These sites were able to offer activities for youth to play tag, jump rope and get active outside in addition to the health and nutrition activities.”
In Wayne County, nutrition and gardening activities were offered. Youth learned first about the importance of eating fruits and vegetables, then planted peas, broccoli and green beans in a planter.
“The UDIM activities were fun and led into the education and important of drinking milk, eating dairy and eating a well-balanced diet,” Norrell-Aitch said.
Not only did the initiative get the word out about the importance of living healthy, it also helped to promote 4-H to new audiences.
“Sometimes those in urban areas are not aware of 4-H. This was a great opportunity to bring awareness of 4-H to the people of Detroit, Flint, Saginaw and Lansing,” Norrell-Aitch said.
National 4-H Council continues to be a strong partner in leveraging corporate grant projects for Michigan 4-H. National 4-H grants funded by CME Group and Monsanto, have allowed for the creation of Commodity Carnival and the Ag Innovators Experience respectively, which collectively influence more than 1,000 Michigan youth each year.
4-H Commodity Carnival
Michigan 4-H is among nine states participating in the Commodity Carnival, an interactive fair experience through a partnership between 4-H and CME Group, the world’s leading and most diverse derivatives marketplace. Launched in 2013, Commodity Carnival is a fun learning activity for students to experience managing the business risks associated with producing and bringing livestock to market.
Displayed at the Michigan State Fair and county fairs across the state, the Commodity Carnival aims to increase agricultural literacy among not only 4-H’ers but also the public by teaching business management practices and providing an understanding of basic economic principles. The activity tasked participants with raising a steer – balancing the costs of feed, health and nutrition, production and energy and resources. The game also incorporated risks that are outside of a farmer’s control, such as bugs, bad weather, health news, government regulations and seasonal demands.
“I have learned a lot of communication skills from participating in Commodity Carnival because it’s for all 4-H ages, so it teaches you how to talk to different age groups and have the same information while presenting it in different ways,” said Camran Stack, Gratiot County 4-H’er and Commodity Carnival teen leader.
Partially because of his involvement in this project, Stack’s future career plans include hydroponics and agribusiness.
“Commodity Carnival really taught me the economics of agribusiness, which I was definitely lacking in knowledge before, and now I have a much more holistic understanding of the field,” he said.
4-H Ag Innovators Experience
Since 2014, the 4-H Ag Innovators Experience (AIE), presented by Monsanto, has cultivated life skills, increased interest in agriculture among youth and helped them develop an understanding of the role of STEM in agriculture.
Michigan was among five states that participated in the Healthy Soils Carbon Soil Investigation Challenge as part of the 2017 4-H AIE activity. As part of the 90-minute science activity, Michigan 4-H’ers worked in teams to determine overall soil health and implement good production practices while farming and tilling the land. The teams then developed tiny robots to create a no-till planter with minimal negative impact on the environment, such as soil disruption, equipment drag and soil compaction.
“The Ag Innovators Experience allows participants to become better leaders and presenters and allows them to help the youth of their county and state become more knowledgeable about agriculture,” said Nathan Laurenz, Midland County 4-H’er and Ag Innovators teen leader.
“Since participating in Ag Innovators Experience I have learned the benefits of using hands-on activities in my presentation to help the kids learn and keep them engaged.”
Commodity Carnival and the Ag Innovators Experience would not be possible without the continuous support of the National 4-H Council, CME Group and Monsanto. Educating Michigan youth about preparing for their future is essential for the success of 4-H clubs, our community, our country and our world, and corporate National 4-H Council partnerships make it a possibility.
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.