SPOTLIGHT ON MICHIGAN 4-H STATE AWARDS – BRANDON FISHER: 2023 JUNIOR RABBIT & CAVY SCIENCE 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 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.