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.
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.”
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.
This spring, ranchers in western states were devastated when wildfires destroyed vast areas for grazing cattle. Michigan 4-H clubs in more than 10 counties provided an outpouring of support for those in need by collecting items such as feed, fencing and milk replacer; generating funds for other needed items; and loading supplies for supply runs. Several 4-H groups also took part in spring break service trips to Kansas and Oklahoma.
In Sanilac County, farmers and 4-H youth collected enough donations to load more than 80 semi-trucks with hay, as well as additional loads of milk replacer for orphaned calves, salt blocks and many other needed supplies. However, the youth were eager to do more, and thus a service project was organized.
“I’m really proud of these kids,” said Colleen Wallace, MSU Extension 4-H program coordinator in Sanilac County. “They wanted to help these farmers who’ve lost everything to the fires, and they stepped up.”
During the weekend of April 7-10, Sanilac County 4-H transported 46 youth from Sanilac and surrounding counties to Ashland, Kansas. Under the supervision of 14 adult volunteers, the 4-H’ers worked to build fences, haul firewood, clear debris and assist in any way possible.
“I had a great time going out there helping the Filson Farm, who was affected by the wildfire,” said Brady Zettle, a 15-year-old 4-H’er from Ogemaw County. “This opportunity allowed me to use my hands for larger service, just like the 4-H pledge says. I have always loved to volunteer, but this trip changed me and makes me want to help others more. The people out there were so kind and grateful to us.”
“I loved being able to help the ranchers and listen to their stories,” said Riley Wallace, an 11-year-old 4-H’er from St. Clair County. “I liked seeing the communities come together and work on things.”
Youth from other counties also headed west to support the wildfire relief efforts. During the week of April 2, 10 Clinton County 4-H youth and four volunteers traveled to Knowles, Oklahoma, where they rebuilt a chicken coop for a local widow, built fence, cleared debris and helped out in other ways.
“I wanted to help the farmers out west to help ease their pain and make a difference in their lives,” said Lillie Decker, a 13-year-old Clinton County 4-H’er. “I had a barn fire a few years ago, and I know firsthand how it feels. People came from all over, and I learned that when you help people in need, it makes a big difference in their lives.”
Joining Sanilac and Clinton County youth in their wildfire relief efforts were 4-H’ers from Allegan, Barry, Bay, Branch, Dickinson, Iosco, Lapeer, Mecosta, Oakland and Shiawassee counties. From collecting donations and fundraising to various other acts of service, these Michigan 4-H’ers joined 4-H youth across the country in a month-long volunteer initiative known as 4-H True Leaders in Service. This nationwide effort seeked to empower 4-H youth to roll up their sleeves and demonstrate the positive impact that 4-H’ers can and do have in their communities every day.
4-H’ers continued their True Leader efforts by supporting the wildfire relief throughout the summer and into the fall. In July, approximately 40 youth and 16 adult volunteers from Mecosta County made the trip to Ashland to support area ranchers as they rebuild their operations.
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.
Michigan 4-H was one of 26 states in 2015-16 to receive a grant from National 4-H Council, funded by the Walmart Foundation. The Youth Voice: Youth Choice grant enabled youth to implement action plans for nutrition, physical fitness and safety in 10 counties across the state.
Mini grants were awarded to Genesee, Kent, Lake, Macomb, Mason, Muskegon, Oakland, Ottawa, Saginaw and Wayne counties to offer the Youth Voice: Youth Choice healthy living program in their communities. The program targeted underserved minorities in addition to youth and families from a variety of social and economic backgrounds and first-generation 4-H’ers.
“A small number of these families were already in 4-H; the majority of the others were recruited to participate in the fun and exciting new fitness and nutrition programs planned by counties with mini grants,” said Kea Norrell-Aitch, MSU Extension 4-H educator for healthy living.
“I was pretty proud of this program,” Norell-Aitch said. “Some counties partnered with SNAP-Ed [Supplemental Nutrition Education Program, a federal program providing evidence-based nutrition education], master gardeners and after-school programs. Others created new partnerships in schools and shelters. This grant really helped open new doors to new 4-H partnerships and audiences.”
As a result of this grant, several new statewide 4-H healthy living opportunities were created, including Challenge U, a two-day overnight food science and healthy living camp at Kettunen Center; the Healthy Living and Food Science day-long camp on MSU’s campus where youth explored career options in various departments such as dairy and kinesiology; and Bigley 4-H Clear Lake Camp, a five-day 4-H camp in the Upper Peninsula that offered hands-on fitness and nutrition education. In addition, the 4-H Mentoring Weekend – a weekend camp at Kettunen Center for 4-H mentors and mentees – had a healthy living theme. 4-H Healthy Living Teen Ambassadors also taught three sessions at 4-H Exploration Days focused on healthy living topics.
“Out of this grant also came 4-H F3rd – which stands for ‘family, fitness and fun’,” Norell-Aitch said. “Every third Saturday of the month, we go to a county to facilitate a family fitness program. It is very beneficial to incorporate the whole family. Kids don’t have
power over the food purchased – we have to start with the parents to talk about changes and healthy food options.”
4-H F3rd includes a fitness challenge – typically an obstacle course – and a smoothie challenge for the food component.
“Participants select their smoothie ingredients, and then judges pick which smoothie tastes the best,” she said. “It’s competitive, too, which makes it fun! Sometimes we offer a dance or sports challenge using a Wii video game.”
To implement the program in their local communities, 40 teens, representing each county above were trained as 4-H Healthy Living Teen Ambassadors.
County 4-H staff members developed innovative healthy living programs, camps and community gardens centered on nutrition and physical fitness. There was also a gardening component for youth to learn how to grow fruits and vegetables and include them in daily meals.
Muskegon County 4-H partnered with two groups, creating new partnerships for 4-H healthy living program delivery. Growing Goods is a summer youth program hosted by Muskegon Public Schools for youth who failed a class in school to make up class credits.
“The six-week program focused on gardening and healthy eating,” said Katie Courtade, Muskegon County MSU Extension 4-H program coordinator. “We taught a variety of classes raging from how food travels from farm to the plate and what plants need
to grow, to eating the colors and healthy food choices. We even made homemade salsa!”
“Muskegon does have a pretty high obesity rate and any way that we can help the youth is great. Just teaching kids how to eat right helps!” she said.
Courtade also partnered with Community Acting Towards Children’s Health (CATCH) Camp in Muskegon where 4-H staff taught the importance of physical activity and eating healthy.
“We taught the nutritional content of fruits and vegetables, and had an obstacle course,” she said. “They just loved it!
“This grant helped make connections with partners in the community,” Courtade said. “We are going to continue with the grant. I am hoping to make new connections next year!”