Michigan 4-H Foundation


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Every year, 11- and 12-year-old Michigan 4-H’ers reflect on the theme of “Because of 4-H, I can . . .” for the Michigan 4-H State Awards Program’s 4-H Mark of Excellence contest. Youth may submit a video or journal entry with their reflections and each Michigan county 4-H program may select two entries to be recognized as winners.

Some 2023 contest participants described how their 4-H experiences have allowed them to make new friends, try new projects, explore new places and help their dreams come true. Some credited 4-H with helping them increase their public speaking skills, confidence and time management skills. Other 4-H’ers expressed excitement about their club meetings, events, exhibits and community service projects.

“These young members have exciting futures ahead of them – both in 4-H and in life,” said Julie Chapin, state leader for Michigan 4-H and director of children and youth programs for Michigan State University Extension.“ The Mark of Excellence contest is a great way to engage youth in thinking critically about their experiences while also recognizing them for all the ways they’ve grown through 4-H.”

Overall, 11 4-H members from nine counties were honored as 2023 Mark of Excellence state winners.

  • Cecelia Aulph of Monroe County
  • Gwendolyn Berry of Branch County
  • John Jinks of Monroe County
  • Levi Johnson of Cass County
  • Natalie Keen of Oakland County
  • Jazzmyne Kowalski of Alpena County
  • Brady Pullins of Berrien County
  • Conner Shirk of Cass County
  • Dodge Sundberg of Menominee County
  • Jinger Vantroostenberghe of St. Clair

Each recipient received a medal, and their winning entries were added to the Michigan 4-H Mark of Excellence history book.