Make the Match County 4-H Endowment

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County 4-H Endowment Match Campaign

From 2013-2018, 31 Michigan county 4-H programs participated in the Michigan 4-H Foundation’s county 4-H endowment match campaign to raise perpetual support for local 4-H programs by establishing and growing county 4-H endowments. The Make the Match County 4-H Endowment Campaign was a portion of the Michigan 4-H Foundation’s capital campaign which ended Dec. 31, 2018.

During the campaign period, the Michigan 4-H community including clubs, parents, volunteers, alumni and donors collectively came together to show their strong support of 4-H today and to sustain funding for the program well into the future through endowments.

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.

Thirty-one counties set goals to raise a minimum of $10,000 locally to establish county 4-H endowment funds, which if successful, qualified the county 4-H program to receive a 1:1 match from the Michigan 4-H Foundation of every dollar raised up to $50,000 per fund, on a first-come, first-served basis while match funds were available. In order to qualify for matching funds, at least 50 percent of the donations to a fund must have been made bym individuals and 4-H clubs.

While the match portion of the campaign has ended, gifts are still welcome to help grow county 4-H endowments. Additional gifts may be made at:


Participating counties are:

Scroll over the map to see the campaign progress as of 12/28/18 for each county.

Map Key:

Blue = participating counties
Turquoise = county has met their goal
Orange = county has met the maximum match of $50,000

4-H members and volunteer sit a table building a STEAM project.

Each year, the Michigan 4-H Foundation provides 4-H statewide learning experience sponsorships to a variety of Michigan 4-H programs and events. These sponsorships greatly reduce the cost of 4-H activities and make them more accessible for 4-H youth, volunteers and staff to attend. Generous gifts from donors, endowment fund earnings and general fund support from the Michigan 4-H Foundation make the sponsorships possible. 4-H program staff and event coordinators may apply for 4-H statewide learning experience fund sponsorships on a yearly basis through a competitive process.

For the 2023-24 program year, the following programs received a total of $104,000 in sponsorships from the Michigan 4-H Foundation:

  • 4-H Animal Science Career Quest 2024

  • 4-H Creative Campaign Contest

  • 4-H Exploration Days

  • 4-H National Congress (supporting Michigan 4-H youth to attend the event)

  • Michigan 4-H Creative Arts Celebration

  • Michigan 4-H Dairy Conference

  • Michigan 4-H Great Lakes and Natural Resources Camp

  • Michigan 4-H Month of the Military Child Virtual Challenge

  • Michigan 4-H Shooting Sports Workshops

  • Michigan 4-H Skillathon

  • Michigan 4-H Spectacular Youth Leadership Institute

  • Michigan 4-H State Goat Show

  • Michigan 4-H State Horse Show

  • Michigan 4-H Statewide Program Promotion

  • Michigan 4-H/FFA State Livestock Judging Contest

  • National 4-H Dairy Cattle Judging Contest (supporting Michigan 4-H youth to attend the event)

  • National 4-H Dairy Conference (supporting Michigan 4-H youth to attend the event)

  • National 4-H True Leaders in Equity Institute (supporting Michigan 4-H youth to attend the event)

  • World Food Prize Michigan Youth Institute

In addition, the following statewide 4-H programs will receive more than $30,000 in continued funding in the 2023-2024 program year, as designated by donors who have made contributions specifically to these events.

  • Michigan 4-H Beef, Sheep and Swine Workshop

  • Michigan 4-H Dairy Conference

  • Michigan 4-H Great Lakes and Natural Resources Camp

  • Michigan 4-H Poultry Workshop

  • Michigan 4-H Proud Equestrians Program

  • Michigan 4-H Shooting Sports Workshops

Annual support for 4-H learning experiences is provided by these Michigan 4-H Foundation endowment funds:

  • Adam Family Endowment Fund

  • James H. and Dorothy A. Anderson Fund

  • Jack and Betty Barnes Tribute Fund

  • Thelma and Leonard Burleigh Fund

  • Thomas H. Cobb Shooting Sports Fund

  • The Echo Endowment Fund

  • Phyllis Eppelheimer Memorial Fund

  • John F. and Andrea E. Grix Endowment

  • Donald J. and John H. Hawkins Memorial Fund

  • Henning Family Fund

  • George E. and Deanna J. House Endowment

  • A.G. Kettunen Endowment

  • Russell G. and Lou Ann S. Mawby Endowment

  • William Allen Schiller Memorial Endowment

  • Sandra Clarkson Stuckman 4-H Endowment Fund

  • Francis H. and Ingrid E. Thacker Endowment

  • Turner-Ousterhout Memorial Fund

  • Norman R. and Marjory A. Veliquette Endowment

  • Westrate Family Fund

  • WNF&GA, Michigan Division Endowment

  • Howard Zindel Memorial Fund

Support for 4-H learning experiences in the 2023-24 program year is also provided by individual donations and these sponsors:

  • Cooperative Elevator Company

  • GreenStone Farm Credit Services

  • National 4-H Council partnerships with JOANN and Tractor Supply Company

  • Tkachik Sisters Charitable Fund of the Community Foundation of Southeast Michigan.

If you or your organization are interested in sponsoring a 4-H learning experience, visit

" }, { "id":"", "title": "2023-24 4-H MINI GRANT RECIPIENTS ANNOUNCED", "color":"", "description": "
Girls holding arrows.

Each year, the Michigan 4-H Foundation board of trustees approves the distribution of competitive grant funds to encourage development of innovative 4-H opportunities in communities. For the 2023–24 program year, 4-H mini grants were awarded in four categories totaling $8,000.

Michigan 4-H Legacy Grants

Michigan 4-H Legacy Grants, funded by the Michigan 4-H Legacy Fund endowment, encourage creativity and support the implementation of innovative ideas that expand and promote positive youth development in communities.

The Calhoun County 4-H Creative & Expressive Arts Summer Program received a $1,000 grant to help relaunch the program. During the summer, students in grades 5 to 12 will be invited to engage in the art disciplines of acting, dancing and singing. At the end of program, youth and instructors will produce a public show to display their skills.

Developers of the Let's Grow Grapes 4-H curriculum received a $1,000 grant to create three new modules in the curriculum. “Let’s Grow” teaches young people about the fundamentals of the grape industry and includes online content and partnerships with vineyards designed to help participants learn hands-on vineyard skills.

Wayne County 4-H’s Sewing for Life project received a $1,000 grant. This SPIN (short-term special interest) club helps young people increase their sewing knowledge and skills. Funds from the grant will be used to purchase the sewing materials needed to offer the program to more young people.

The final $1,000 grant was split equally between two 4-H shooting sports programs. The Michigan 4-H Shooting Sports program received a $500 grant to help relaunch statewide 4-H muzzleloader training. The grant will fund several pieces of equipment needed to safely train and equip 4-H volunteer shooting sports instructors who support youth statewide.

The Newaygo County 4-H Archery Club received a $500 grant to expand the archery program for youth in the county. The program has seen overwhelming community interest, and the grant will help provide equipment for all current and future 4-H club members.

4-H Educational Garden Grants

Two 4-H Educational Garden grants were funded by the Albert A. Albright Endowment for 4-H Plant Science and Gardening Education.

The Ray Community 4-H Club in Macomb County received a $1,000 grant to establish a butterfly garden in honor of a club member who passed away in 2021. Youth members will design, create and maintain the garden while learning about the environment, butterflies and conservation. The garden will also increase public awareness of butterfly conservation and provide a peaceful space for visitors to enjoy.

The Walt Whitman Elementary School Garden in Oakland County received a $1,000 grant to build a flower and vegetable garden. The garden will be used in hands-on lessons to educate kindergarten through sixth grade students about gardening, food systems and science. Families of students and community partners will have the opportunity to volunteer in the garden.

Collins Grant

The Collins 4-H Youth Horticulture Grant is funded by the William J. and Ruth D. Collins Endowment Fund to advance local 4-H club work in plant science and horticultural activities.

The Community 4-H Garden in Newaygo County received a $500 grant to revitalize and expand their youth-led community garden. Young people will be involved in all aspects of the garden and learn about gardening, food systems and sustainable practices. This garden will help youth participants create relationships with peers and 4-H volunteers and develop healthier lifestyle habits.

On-Target Grants

Three On-Target Grants were funded by the Thomas H. Cobb Shooting Sports Fund to enhance county 4-H shooting sports programs.

The Emmet County Shooting Sports 4-H Club received a $500 grant to launch the first shooting sports 4-H club in the county. The club will focus on archery and BB guns while teaching youth about shooting sports, safety and leadership skills.

The Monroe County 4-H Program received a $500 grant to grow the county archery program. The grant will fund the purchase of smaller bows and whisker biscuits for younger members to use and develop archery skills.

The Iron County 4-H Shooting Sports Program received a $500 grant to strengthen the rifle discipline in the county. The grant will be used to buy equipment for youth to use for regular practice and club activities.

The next grant cycle will open April 1, 2024, with grant applications due June 1. For more information on 4-H mini grants and the grant applications, visit

2022 Emerald Clover Society.
The 2022 Michigan 4-H Emerald Clover Society.

Outstanding Michigan 4-H alumni, volunteers, youth, staff and partners were recognized Sept. 30 during the 4-H Legacy Awards Celebration in East Lansing. Awards presented at the event, which was hosted by Michigan State University Extension and the Michigan 4-H Foundation, are among Michigan 4-H’s highest honors for adults.

“It was great to come together to celebrate the remarkable individuals that make up our 4-H community,” said Julie Chapin, state 4-H leader for Michigan and director of MSU Extension’s children and youth programs. “There is a rich history of 4-H in our state and there is a lot to celebrate, from our current youth to our outstanding alumni, and our dedicated volunteers to our commendable partners.”

The 4-H Citation Awards, the highest recognition presented by Michigan 4-H, recognizes significant contributions to Michigan 4-H programs. This year, the honor was awarded to the Michigan Community Service Commission and to Michael and Winifred Tate.

The Michigan 4-H Emerald Clover Society honors Michigan 4-H alumni whose professional leadership and community service reflect the ultimate outcome of 4-H membership. Inducted into the 2022 class were Gail R. Frahm, Saginaw; Larry J. Gould, Morenci; Jon D. Hausserman, Fenwick; L. Janel Horrocks-Boehmer, Williamston; Alice A. Kempf, Holton; Karen Kolberg Kietzer, Stevensville; Dian M. Liepe, Pullman; Sarah J. Pion, Cassopolis; Rachael N. Ramirez, Birch Run; Melissa A. Souva, Bronson; Schawna M. Thoma, Anchorage, Alaska; and Mary J. Yeomans, Midland.

The 4-H Salute to Excellence Awards honor remarkable 4-H volunteers who have contributed substantially to both their county and state 4-H programs. This year, the 2023 Outstanding Lifetime Volunteer Award was presented to Michelle (Anders) McNamara of St. Joseph County and the 2023 4-H Volunteer of the Year Award was presented to Kim Wright of Dickinson County.

The Michigan Farm Bureau 4-H Excellence in Agriculture Awards, which recognize 4-H volunteers who exhibit excellence in 4-H youth education and leadership in agriculture-related areas, were presented in 2023 to Katheryn Bell of Oakland County, Marie Curell of Lapeer County, Melissa Barnett LaForest of Wayne County and Dione M. Oliver of Alpena County.

Also recognized at the event were the award honorees from 2019 through 2022. In 2022, honorees were David Cox of Jackson County, Vicki Rau of Ogemaw County, and Karen Scovill of Shiawassee County. In 2021, honorees were Dave Galer of Macomb County and Madaline Knight of Muskegon County. In 2020, honorees were Stacy Hough of Mecosta County and Cristie M. Warren of Washtenaw County. In 2019, honorees were Beth Clark of Shiawassee County, the late Vera Kempf of Newaygo County and Andrew Walker of Ogemaw County.

Fifty-year 4-H volunteers from 2021, 2022 and 2023 were recognized at the event, as well as winners of the 2023 MSU 4-H Scholarships and an MSU Extension 4-H staff member retiring in 2023.

“We’re grateful to continue this strong partnership of recognizing Michigan’s outstanding 4-H community through a day of celebration and camaraderie,” said Abbey Miller, director of the Michigan 4-H Foundation. “It’s always enjoyable to salute our honorees alongside our 4-H friends and family.”

The Michigan 4-H Legacy Awards Celebration was hosted by MSU Extension Associate Director Matt Shane, a Kent County 4-H alumnus and 2014 4-H Emerald Clover Society inductee. To learn more about previous honorees in each of these award categories, visit

" }, { "id":"", "title": "MICHIGAN 4-H CHILDREN’S GARDENS CELEBRATES 30 YEARS", "color":"", "description": "
Birthday cake for the Michigan 4-H Children’s Gardens.

The Michigan 4-H Children’s Gardens turned 30 this summer. In celebration, a 30th anniversary garden party was held on August 4 jointly with the MSU Horticulture Gardens. About 110 people attended.

“We were so grateful for the turnout we had as we celebrated our pearl year,” said Jessica Wright, education coordinator for the Michigan 4-H Children's Gardens. “It was so wonderful to gather with the community to mark the anniversary of our beautiful gardens.”

At the event, a new scholarship opportunity, the Judith DeLapa and Jane Taylor Scholarship, was announced. Named after a passionate donor to the gardens (DeLapa) and the garden’s founding curator (Taylor), the scholarship will provide resources for a student intern to work in the 4-H Children’s Gardens in summer 2024. Hired by the garden’s curator, the intern will have the unique opportunity to learn horticulture skills in a hands-on, living laboratory and engage with horticultural experts while interacting with the public.

“This new scholarship will not only provide students with an amazing opportunity to learn from leading experts, but it will provide crucial support to the work that we do in the Michigan 4-H Children’s Gardens,” said Wright.

In addition to the August 4 event, the Michigan 4-H Children’s Gardens held a separate youth-centric 30th birthday party on August 11. Sixty-five people attended the party, which was part of the gardens’ summer learning series for young people. At the event, attendees enjoyed a birthday cake and opened and reburied the garden’s time capsule. Originally buried in 1993 and then reopened every five years, the capsule contains seeds that are planted after each opening to test their ability to germinate after lying dormant.

During the party, attendees were asked to share their favorite feature of the Michigan 4-H Children’s Gardens and their favorite garden plant. Their top two feature picks were the pond and the pizza garden, while their favorite plants were the pineapple and popcorn plants.

“Our birthday party was an exciting way to celebrate our 30th anniversary in a way that honored the true spirit of the Children’s Garden,” said Wright. “We had cake, games and other activities and it was just a really fun day.”

In preparation for the celebrations, earlier this year the pond liner was replaced and the Monet bridge was repainted. A drinking fountain was also installed near the outdoor restrooms and the Creation Station was updated and repainted. Other features added in 2023 include the MAC (Michigan Agriculture Crops) Garden and a mural in the African American Garden.

The Michigan 4-H Children’s Gardens and its programs are made possible by private donations to the Michigan 4-H Foundation.

" }, { "id":"", "title": "SPOTLIGHT ON MICHIGAN 4-H STATE AWARDS – AMANDA TOWNE: 2023 SENIOR ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE AWARD", "color":"", "description": "
Headshot of Amanda Towne
Amanda Towne, 2023 Senior Environmental Science Michigan 4-H State Award.

A Michigan 4-H State Award is the highest honor given to a Michigan 4-H’er. The awards recognize honorees’ knowledge and life skill development.

The awards are typically given out during 4-H Exploration Days, which is held in mid-June on the campus of Michigan State University.

Excerpts from the awards portfolios of 2023 Michigan 4-H State Award Winner Amanda Towne follows. Her responses have been edited for clarity and length.

Amanda Towne, 17, says she has always been shy, “but the leadership experiences I gain through 4-H help build my confidence so that I am comfortable speaking in front of others, providing guidance and setting examples for others.” Towne is in her eleventh year in the Michigan 4-H program and tenth year in the Van Buren Voyagers 4-H Club, where she is now a teen leader and club vice president. She is also involved in Young Explorers.

Towne has shown dogs, cats, draft horses, chickens and goats, and over the years, has expanded her 4-H interests to include shooting sports and environmental science. She says one of her biggest accomplishments is being a member of the first Envirothon team in Van Buren County in 10 years. The team placed first in regionals and second and third in two categories at the state level.

In 2022, Towne won the junior Michigan 4-H State Award for shooting sports. In 2023, she won the senior Michigan 4-H State Award for environmental science.

“4-H makes me a more rounded person as I learn how to help others in need,” Towne said. “If I had not been introduced to 4-H, I would not have the same type of outgoing personality or be able to communicate as effectively.”

Q. How did you become involved in 4-H?

A. I joined 4-H as a Cloverbud and began learning how to make still exhibits. Over the years, I expanded into other project areas, with a growing interest in environmental science.

Q. What other 4-H projects have you participated in outside your award area?

A. Some of my other 4-H projects have been showing dogs, cats, chickens, draft horses, goats and sheep. I also create exhibits and sometimes perform in the annual talent show playing the piano, guitar or ukulele.

Q. What are some skills you’ve learned in 4-H?

A. Through my environmental science project, I have developed skills in personal safety, communication, contribution to group effort, and critical thinking. Being in the outdoors teaches me the importance of safety, such as being aware of my surroundings and what gear I should take with me when I go into the wilderness. My 4-H activities have helped me become a better communicator. Communication is related to so many other important life skills, such as decision making and being able to cooperate with others.

Q. How has 4-H helped you grow as a leader?

A. As a 4-H member, being an officer in my club, participating in 4-H Exploration Days as a delegate, and attending educational workshops has contributed to my development and personal growth as a leader.

Q. What are some ways you give back to your community through 4-H?

A. A 4-H community service experience that means a lot to me is an outdoor adventure day for kids with special needs. The event is Outdoor Adventures for Kids with Special Needs (OAKS) and it is hosted by the Van Buren Voyagers 4-H Club. The event helps special needs children experience outdoor activities and learn more about the environment, and inspires them to spend more time outside. OAKS had a positive impact on my community. Not only did the kids enjoy the day and discover new ways to enjoy the outdoors, but their caregivers became more comfortable with getting the kids outside.

Another way I have given back to my community is when our Envirothon team organized a beach cleanup at the Casco Township Lake Michigan Beach Preserve. After I explained our plan at a Casco Township Board meeting, the board approved the plan and provided a dumpster for the event. By doing the cleanup, we were able to bring awareness to the community and made a positive step toward cleaning our waters.

Q. What unique opportunities or experiences have you had through 4-H?

A. For the past two years, I have attended 4-H Capitol Experience to learn more about our local, state and tribal governments in Michigan. I was part of the environmental science issue group both years.

I also attended 4-H Citizenship Washington Focus, where we learned about the federal government and how laws are made at the federal level. Participants from around the country were able to share their ideas and experiences.

Q. How has your 4-H involvement influenced your future plans?

A. I plan to study biology and genetics at Northern Michigan University. I am exploring the possibility of becoming a wildlife geneticist. The skills I gained from 4-H motivate me to continue my path in protecting the environment and promoting land conservation.

" }, { "id":"", "title": "SPOTLIGHT ON MICHIGAN 4-H STATE AWARDS – BRANDON FISHER: 2023 JUNIOR RABBIT & CAVY SCIENCE AWARD", "color":"", "description": "
Brandon Fisher holds up his ribbon in front of his pen of rabbits.
Brandon Fisher, Junior Rabbit & Cavy Science Michigan 4-H State Award Winner.

A Michigan 4-H State Award is the highest honor given to a Michigan 4-H’er. The awards recognize honorees’ knowledge and life skill development.

The awards are typically given out during 4-H Exploration Days, which is held in mid-June on the campus of Michigan State University.

Excerpts from the awards portfolios of 2023 Michigan 4-H State Award Winner Brandon Fisher follows. His responses have been edited for clarity and length.

Brandon Fisher, 15, credits 4-H with teaching him “how to work hard to be prepared for different challenges.” Fisher is in his ninth year in the Monroe County 4-H program, where he shows small animals like rabbits, cavies and pocket pets. He has also competed in many 4-H robotics projects and been involved with a 4-H group called iClover Robotics.

Fisher is part of the county 4-H program’s Small Animal Executive Board, Teen Ambassadors program, New Horizons program, and two district clubs. Among his greatest accomplishments is winning the Small Animal Showmanship Sweepstakes and Master Stockman at the county fair. In 2022, Fisher won the junior Michigan 4-H State Award for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). In 2023, he won the junior Michigan 4-H State Award for rabbit and cavy science.

“The skills that I have attained through 4-H have helped me in school and will help me in life when I start my career.” Fisher said. “My goal is to make an impact on the world and create something that will change the way we currently work for the better. I know that my involvement in 4-H will help to make this goal possible.”

Q. How did you become involved in 4-H?

A. My family has always been involved in 4-H [starting with] my grandma and my mom being 4-H members. I have been going to 4-H activities since I was a little kid because my older sister is also involved in 4-H.

Q. What other 4-H projects have you participated in outside your award area?

A. I have participated in the 4-H communications project, and I am now able to get up and speak in front of a group of people. My sister helped me gain confidence with my first communications project and because of her, I now try a new communications project each year. It has become one of my favorite project areas.

Another one outside of my award area was a small engine project. I tore down and put back together a broken chainsaw. I was able to speak with the judge about how I completed my project and showed him the chainsaw running.

Q. What are some skills you’ve learned in 4-H?

A. One of the most valuable skills I have learned in 4-H is how to work with confidence. Another important skill that I use in both 4-H and my robotics team is accurately gathering and keeping track of the many aspects of building a robot.

Participating in the rabbit and cavy science area, I have learned to speak and work with confidence. It is important to have confidence when giving presentations and when speaking to others in a large group or one on one. I have participated in many presentations about small animals for my 4-H clubs and in workshops for the Small Animal Board. I have also used this skill in school presentations in front of my teachers and peers. Being able to speak with confidence is necessary when showing small animals because the judges will ask questions that I must answer confidently to show my animal science knowledge.

Having animals and taking care of them has taught me to be responsible. It is my responsibility to make sure all my animals stay healthy. If my animals do get sick, I need to be able to care for them or get them the help they need.

Another skill I’ve learned in 4-H is problem solving, which I use in every aspect of being the mechanical build lead on my robotics team. If there is something wrong with the robot or if it breaks between competitions, I must be able to problem solve to figure out and fix the issue.

Q. How has 4-H helped you grow as a leader?

A. 4-H and robotics have helped me be a leader and mentor to others interested in the STEM field. Teaching classes to 4-H members and mentoring two younger robotics teams has been important to me to be able to pass on my love of STEM. My hope is that I can teach members all they need to know about STEM and robotics. In addition, I hope they grow to love STEM and robotics and they will one day be a mentor to someone else.

Also, 4-H helped me grow as a leader by helping me build confidence in speaking and running meetings. I have learned the correct way to run a meeting using parliamentary procedure. I’ve learned to be responsible by caring for my project animals and because I am expected to attend all the meetings and participate as a leader in my club.

Being a part of 4-H has helped to make me the person I am today. I have had great mentors and club leaders to help me along the way. Now I am a mentor to the younger members so I can help them along their way.

Q. What are some ways you give back to your community through 4-H?

A. One district 4-H club I am in is all about community service. We have done many community service projects, including making salsa for firefighters, putting together Easter baskets for foster kids, and creating hospice care kits. One of my favorite projects is collecting food and supplies and making blankets and toys for the local humane society. We even get to visit the humane society and play with the animals.

Another of my favorite ways to give back to my community through 4-H is visiting the local assisted living senior home in my community. We have made cards for residents, played bingo with them and sung carols for them.

Q. What unique opportunities or experiences have you had through 4-H?

A. I have participated in welding, electrical and communications projects. I even won a Michigan State Fair Gold Ribbon for one of my electrical projects. I have also represented Monroe County as the 4-H Prince. This great accomplishment allowed me to be part of the leadership group that attended and helped out with 4-H activities at the county fair. Lastly, I was able to lead a class on building and programming a robot during my club expo.

Q. How has your 4-H involvement influenced your future plans?

A. After my 4-H career, I plan on pursuing a career in the STEM field, specifically mechanical engineering. The skills I have developed through 4-H have helped me in school and will help me in life when I start my career.

" }, { "id":"", "title": "MICHIGAN 4-H STEPS UP TO THE PLATE TO KEEP BASEBALL & SOFTBALL AFFORDABLE FOR U.P. COUNTY", "color":"", "description": "
The 4-H Junior softball team and the Manistique High School varsity softball team.
The 4-H Junior softball team and the Manistique High School varsity softball team.

Baseball is a sport loved by many from an early age, which made it all the more difficult for one Upper Peninsula county that found itself struggling to provide a program in spring 2023. Rising costs and other challenges had Schoolcraft County’s existing youth baseball and softball leagues looking for new options.

Fortunately, community members knew where to turn. Michigan State University Extension stepped up to the plate to offer 4-H baseball and softball leagues for local young people.

A compressed timeline

“The board came to me on April 4 and asked, ‘Could we switch our baseball program to 4-H?’ ” said Jill Connin, 4-H program coordinator for MSU Extension in Schoolcraft County. “They knew we’d done soccer, volleyball and track programs in the past so we could offer recreational programs through 4-H. I knew it was going to require a lot of quick work to appropriately screen all of the adult volunteers, but I said, ‘Let’s do this!’ ”

Connin quickly chartered the new community club, then opened member enrollment. By mid-May, about 150 players from Schoolcraft and Delta counties had signed up. The players, aged 5 to 15, were divided into 12 teams — six baseball and six softball.

The program’s coaches and other volunteers all had to go through MSU Extension’s rigorous volunteer selection process, which includes background checks, reference checks and interviews. With help from 4-H program coordinators in neighboring counties, Connin completed the process for the more than 60 adults involved with the program, who all became verified Michigan 4-H volunteers.

As she would for any new 4-H volunteers, Connin led an orientation for coaches that explained 4-H’s guiding principles of positive youth development and highlighted other 4-H programs in the area. She also had signs with messages about sportsmanship placed in the dugouts and in front of the bleachers, reminding the players to be good teammates and the adults to be positive role models for the players.

“It was a whirlwind, but we did it,” said Connin. “I’m so glad that our community was able to have this experience and that 4-H was able to be part of the solution.”

Broad community support & benefits

Other leagues’ rules limited who the 4-H teams could play to Luce County 4-H and Alger County Parks and Recreation teams. Local school teams were integral to program, too; the older 4-H teams scrimmaged against varsity teams and varsity players umpired 4-H games. Calling the games allowed the fledgling umpires to develop their leadership skills, too.

Local community members also came out strong to support the new 4-H program. A local car dealership donated funds to the program and offered an incentive if community members stopped by their location to test drive a vehicle. One local credit union sent 11 staff members to test drive vehicles and help raise money for the program.

“It’s been inspiring to see the community develop creative ways to support the 4-H baseball and softball program in Schoolcraft County,” continued Connin. “We appreciate their support.”

Planning for expansion of teams

With the 2023 season behind them, Connin already has plans to expand the program in 2024. This includes increasing participation, continuing to recruit local volunteers, partnering with local organizations, and expanding the league to other, nearby counties.

“We’re looking forward to offering this program again next year,” said Connin. “This was a good kick-off year and we made it happen in a matter of weeks – think of what we can do with a whole year to prepare! In 2024 we’ll be able to bring in the local T-ball program and we are excited about getting all the teams into 4-H.”

As an added bonus to the Schoolcraft County 4-H program, the baseball and softball 4-H enrollments made other 4-H events and programs more visible to area young people. Connin said several baseball and softball players, brand new to 4-H in 2023, became involved in local 4-H camps and other programs. She also continues to offer the leagues’ coaches more opportunities to volunteer with 4-H.

“There are so many ways to be involved with 4-H year-round, I was planting the seeds with our coaches as I did the volunteer interviews,” said Connin. “Regardless of how involved they become, we are so glad to have our baseball and softball friends as part of our Schoolcraft County 4-H community.”

To learn more about Michigan 4-H, visit

" }, { "id":"", "title": "4-H CLOVERS CODE BRINGS STEAM OPPORTUNITIES TO ALL", "color":"", "description": "

As it gears up for its third year of programming, the 4-H Clovers CODE (Creating Opportunities Designed for Everyone) program continues to bring new opportunities to new audiences. Operated by Michigan State University Extension, 4-H Clovers CODE is a Michigan 4-H Youth Development program supported by Apple’s Community Education Initiative.

“The Apple Community Education Initiative has been an amazing program providing state-of-the-art equipment for youth to explore their creative passions, reflect on their learning, engage in new technology and solve problems collaboratively,” said Kathy Jamieson, MSU Extension 4-H educator in charge of the program.

Originally launched in southeast Michigan’s Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties, the program was first funded in 2021 and began programming in 2022. Apple provided MSU Extension 4-H with hardware (including iPads and MacBooks), scholarships, professional learning and support for staff and volunteers, and support for a staff member to focus on STEAM programs using Apple curriculum. (STEAM is short for science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics.) With these resources, 4-H Clovers CODE offered a variety of camps, clubs, after-school and in-school partnerships to advance STEAM learning opportunities in communities that are traditionally underserved. During its first year, 4-H Clovers CODE reached nearly 1,100 participants through 43 different programs.

“It is pure excitement to see youth demonstrate perseverance and resourcefulness in their problem-solving skills during 4-H Clover’s CODE initiatives,” Jamieson said. “The opportunity to teach each other new concepts greatly enhances their confidence and communication skills. The program puts fun in learning for all involved.”

Fun programs launched in 2022 included:

  • 4-H Creative Clovers Camp, where 34 young people created videos, made music and explored photography. On the last day of camp, friends and family were invited to see the participants’ creative work. After the camp, 76% of participants agreed that they were interested in exploring a STEAM career.

  • A short-term special interest coding program for low-income youth offered in collaboration with a Mt. Clemens community center.

  • Other counties incorporated technology into their existing programs by using iPads and other Apple technology to help young people explore topics such as gardening, animal science and sewing.

“4-H Clovers CODE helps youth to develop critical life skills and experience with state-of-the-art technology,” said Julie Chapin, director of MSU Extension’s children and youth programs, including Michigan 4-H. “These can be a course-changing experience for young people because those types of skills and knowledge can be the basis of high-growth, high-paying jobs in technology and creative careers.”

In addition to hands-on programming for youth, support from Apple has helped Michigan 4-H bridge the connectivity gap in communities. Young people and adult volunteers can use iPads at county 4-H meetings to enroll in 4-H and complete online training modules. This not only provides access to those without the technology at home, but also provides support to older volunteers who may not be comfortable using the tools and systems on their own.

In 2023, the 4-H Clovers CODE program expanded to new, rural locations in Chippewa, Delta, Gogebic, Lake, Leelanau, Luce, Mason, Menominee and Schoolcraft counties.

“We’re so grateful for Apple’s ongoing partnership in helping to make this programming possible in new areas,” said Chapin. “The access and opportunity challenges can be the same in our rural communities as it is in our urban communities and Apple’s support has helped us to reach young people and communities in both these spaces.” In 2024, the program hopes to expand again to reach new and different audiences. MSU Extension is seeking community partners such as after-school programs, in-school programs, and libraries that are interested in collaborating on the program. To learn how to join a local 4-H Clovers CODE program or to partner with 4-H to offer the program, visit 4-H Clovers CODE at

" }, { "id":"", "title": "2023 MICHIGAN 4-H STATE AWARD WINNERS ANNOUNCED", "color":"", "description": "
4-H State Award winners standing in front of the Wharton holding their certificates.
2023 Michigan 4-H State Award Winners.

The Michigan 4-H State Awards Program recognized outstanding 4-H members following the opening session of 4-H Exploration Days on June 21. Hosted by Michigan State University Extension, the celebration took place at the Wharton Center on the campus of MSU.

A Michigan 4-H State Award is the highest honor bestowed on Michigan 4-H members and recognizes excellence in learning, leadership and service. In total, 22 4-H members from 15 counties submitted applications for this year’s program.

“All of our 4-H’ers across the state are amazing but the youth honored with 4-H State Awards are some of our most accomplished,” said Julie Chapin, state 4-H leader for Michigan and director of MSU Extension’s children and youth programs. “They have demonstrated their dedication to improving themselves and their communities through 4-H, service and more.”

Michigan 4-H State Awards were presented in 13 of the 20 available award categories that showcase the diverse array of 4-H knowledge, skills and experience. Recipients of the 2023 awards are:

  • Beef Science: Caleb Souva of Branch County (junior division) and Bridget Paidl of Menominee County (senior division)

  • Birds and Poultry Science: Makayla King of Van Buren County (senior division)

  • Career Development: Avery Stallman of Macomb County (junior division)

  • Companion Animal Science: Stellamia Aerts of Monroe County (senior division)

  • Environmental Science: Amanda Towne of Van Buren County (senior division)

  • Gardening and Horticulture: Katie Miller of Eaton County (junior division)

  • Goat Science: Dori Stuever of Huron County (senior division)

  • Leadership: Makayla Chew of Midland County (junior division) and Alexis Fisher of Monroe County (senior division)

  • Rabbit and Cavy Science: Brandon Fisher of Monroe County (junior division) and Morgan Bliesener of Ingham County (senior division)

  • Shooting Sports: Justin Yarger of Monroe County (senior division)

  • Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM): Peter Rambadt of St. Joseph County (senior division)

  • Swine Science: Joseph Endres of Isabella County (junior division)

  • Visual, Performing and Expressive Arts: Alana Aulph of Monroe County (senior division)

The Michigan 4-H State Awards Program is open to 4-H members who are 13 to 19 years old with three or more years of 4-H experience. To qualify for the award, 4-H’ers must submit a written application that showcases the learning experiences, knowledge and skills they’ve acquired through their participation in 4-H, as well as their contributions to their local 4-H programs, clubs and communities. Submissions are reviewed by the Michigan 4-H State Awards selection committee. This group of volunteers, staff members and industry experts determine which members are selected as award finalists. All applicants receive written feedback from selection committees.

Senior delegates (ages 16 to 19) and groups then complete an interview using video conference technology. Completing a video interview provides an opportunity for 4-H members to practice real-world workforce skills.

“The 4-H program as a whole is focused on helping youth develop skills for the future,” Chapin said. “Our 4-H State Awards process itself seeks to prepare youth for college and the workforce by having them practice the application and interview process. It requires a significant amount of work and we are so pleased to acknowledge their efforts and achievements with the State 4-H Award honor.”

In addition to a plaque, each 4-H State Award winner in the senior division received a $200 cash award. Junior winners received plaques and $50 cash awards. These awards are made possible by generous donations to the Michigan 4-H Foundation.

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County 4-H Endowment Campaign Information

To learn more about the Make the Match Campaign, contact your 4-H staff at your county MSU Extension office or the Michigan 4-H Foundation at (517) 353-6692 or email