4-H State Award winners standing in front of the Wharton holding their certificates.
4-H State Award winners standing in front of the Wharton holding their certificates.
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.

Girls holding arrows and a bow.
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 https://mi4hfdtn.org/grants.

Kennedy DeFrancesco

Alger County Michigan 4-H alumna Kennedy DeFrancesco participated in many state and national 4-H events during her years in 4-H. However, 4-H Capitol Experience was most life-changing, igniting plans for a political science degree and a career in law.

Kennedy DeFrancesco
Kennedy DeFrancesco, Alger County 4-H alumna

Alger County 4-H alumna Kennedy DeFrancesco has served as a Michigan 4-H Foundation youth trustee since January 2020, giving her time as a means of giving back to a program she says gave her so much. As a former member of Michigan State University Extension’s 4-H Youth Development Program, she participated in Alger County’s Munising 4-H Club for eight years in the 4-H project areas of crafts, sewing, scrapbooking, leadership, civic engagement and community service. Through her experiences with 4-H, she developed critical life skills and found a passion for a career path that she is actively pursuing today.

“I am very fortunate that I was able to be involved in 4-H,” DeFrancesco said. “4-H programs create situations in which our youth can be inspired for their futures and provides them the motivation that they have the ability to make a difference.”

Her 4-H experience gave her the courage to stand up for what she believes in and provided her with the skills to be a good and effective leader. DeFrancesco also met people with shared interests who became lifelong friends.

”4-H impacted my life in more ways than I can say. I would not be the person I am today if I had not had the 4-H experience in my life,” she added. “4-H guided me down the path I needed to pursue to achieve my goals.”

According to DeFrancesco, one of the greatest life lessons she learned in 4-H was the importance of community and leadership. 4-H was also one of the first places she felt fully accepted and surrounded by people that genuinely supported her.

“Being able to have the courage to take charge and not be afraid to speak up for what I believed in was instilled in every 4-H member. Through this leadership and sense of a community, I was able to become my own individual and discover different things that interested me, and it is still something I strive for today,” she said.

DeFrancesco worked to develop her leadership skills through statewide events such as 4-H Exploration Days4-H Capitol Experience, the Michigan 4-H State Youth Leadership Council, the Michigan 4-H Youth Leadership and Global Citizen Spectacular, as well as national events like 4-H Citizenship Washington Focus and National 4-H Congress.

“Although I have a countless number of amazing 4-H memories, I would have to say my ultimate favorite would be attending National 4-H Congress. This event was organized so beautifully and was so incredibly fun. All the people in the Michigan group were immediately fast friends, the adult chaperones were the coolest, nicest people. Everything I was able to experience during that event was so fun and educational. I am so grateful that I was able to have such an amazing experience at this particular event. I would encourage any eligible 4-H member to go if they have the opportunity!”

However, DeFrancesco says that 4-H Capitol Experience is the event that ultimately helped her find her career choice. 4-H Capitol Experience is an annual conference that helps prepare youth for active citizenship by focusing on civic engagement and public policy. DeFrancesco was excited that she was able to attend a real-life Supreme Court hearing, watch the proceedings of the Senate or House of Representatives, learn to write bills, and meet with real politicians to talk about the validity of the bills. She also met Gov. Whitmer (a senator at the time) who signed the mock bill presented by 4-H’ers at the event.

“4-H was responsible for my chosen path for my education and career. I attended lots of awesome 4-H events around the United States and had the absolute best time at each one of them, but it wasn’t until one specific program that I realized this is what I needed to be doing in my life: 4-H Capitol Experience, it gives 4-H members a whole governmental experience.”

“This event gave me a real life look at the inside proceedings of our state government,” DeFrancesco stated. “The experience spurred my love for governmental proceedings. I returned home and told my mom that I had decided to go into political science. I now have my bachelor’s in political science and am looking to pursue a career in law. I don’t think I would be on the same path I am today if it weren’t for 4-H!”

Currently working towards a master’s degree in philosophy at Eastern Michigan University, DeFrancesco earned her bachelor’s degree in political science from Ferris State University, where she was a member of the Speech and Debate Team, Model United Nations (UN) Club, and focused on women’s advocacy.

“My 4-H career helped shape the decisions I made for my future. By participating in 4-H programs throughout high school, I discovered a passion for leadership, political science, and the need to help make a difference.”

DeFrancesco continued, “If you are thinking about joining 4-H, please do it. You will meet so many amazing people, get to experience so many different incredible opportunities, and be a part of an amazing community who will support you continuously.”

“4-H has enhanced my life in so many ways and continues to do so. I am so grateful for being a part of this community. I can honestly say that it has changed my life for the better, therefore I am confident it will positively change others.”

To learn more about becoming involved with Michigan 4-H as a youth member or adult volunteer, visit the Michigan 4-H website.

Smoothie planters in the garden

Smoothie planters in the garden

Many of us likely recall being told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. To highlight the importance of starting the day off right, the Michigan 4-H Children’s Garden now features a theme garden dedicated entirely to the first meal of the day.

The Breakfast Garden features plants that go into making our breakfasts, including a coffee plant, pomegranate, orange, maple, pancake, tomatoes, peppers and chives. In addition, four smoothie planters were added which feature some of the popular smoothie flavors including: a tropical smoothie, strawberry-banana smoothie, green smoothie and smoothie grains.

“We had a Cereal Bowl Garden and the space next to it has traditionally been planted in a fall perennial aster that was not very exciting,” explained Norm Lownds, Michigan 4-H Children’s Gardens curator. “As we were working in the garden we started talking about what to plant in that area and decided that we could expand beyond the cereal bowl to the entire breakfast. It then only took us a few minutes to come up with a list of possible plants. Once we were that far we had to do it.”

The smoothie planters were a donation from Earth Box many years ago, however the Breakfast Garden is in need of a sponsor. If interested in sponsoring this garden, contact greenca5@msu.edu.

In addition, a few updates and restorations were also completed in the Michigan 4-H Children’s Gardens over the summer bringing the garden to its natural splendor.

The planter boxes were replaced and a self-portrait station was added to the Sunshine Garden Gallery wall. The gate to Bogue Street, the benches in the Friends Terrace and the spitting frogs gate were all repainted.

As part of one of the National Science Foundation (NSF) grants garden staff are collaborating on, a Smell Scavenger Hunt has been added through the garden. It has been very popular and is getting more and more visitors to stop and smell the flowers (and the leaves). In addition, more QR codes will be added to the signs so that visitors can discover even more information if they are interested.

Over the summer the family programs had a different emphasis each month with activity bags given out to visitors, a StoryWalk book that connected to each theme and additional online materials, information, and activities. These self-guided programs have worked well and have been very well-received by 4-H Children’s Gardens visitors.

Students holding up iPads.

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 http://www.canr.msu.edu/4-h-clovers-code.

Headshot of Tom Bosserd

The Michigan 4-H Foundation elected officers and board of trustee members at meetings on Sept. 29 in East Lansing. Trustees were elected during the annual membership meeting in the morning and officers were elected at the fall board meeting later that day.

Officers elected for 2023-2024

Thomas L. Bosserd, Plymouth, was reelected president of the Michigan 4-H Foundation board of trustees.

Headshot of Tom Bosserd
Thomas L. Bosserd, Plymouth, President of the Michigan 4-H Foundation board of trustees.

A Michigan 4-H Foundation trustee since 2016, Bosserd is a Calhoun County 4-H alumnus and was raised on a dairy farm near Marshall. He chaired the foundation’s facilities committee from 2017 to 2022 and led the sale of Kettunen Center.

Bosserd recently retired from his farm appraisal business and from Halderman’s Farm Management and Real Estate Services. Before joining Halderman, Bosserd had worked as a loan officer and appraiser for GreenStone Farm Credit Services for 20 years. He has been a certified general appraiser in Michigan since 1994 and a licensed real estate salesperson since 2002. He is a member of the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers and is a past president of the Michigan chapter. Bosserd earned a bachelor’s degree from the MSU College of Business and a master’s degree from Eastern Michigan University, both in business administration.

Also reelected as officers were: Vice president Andrew Walker, West Branch, chief assistant prosecuting attorney for Ogemaw County; and Secretary Julie Chapin, Portland, state leader for Michigan 4-H Youth Development and MSU Extension Children and Youth director. Mark Koester, DeWitt, vice president and director of finance and accounting for GreenStone Farm Credit Services, was elected treasurer. The immediate past president is Sheila W. Kneeshaw, Detroit.

Board of trustee election results

Reelected to three-year terms on the board were Sheila Burkhardt, Novi, and Bruce Sutherland, Okemos. Koester’s August election as a trustee by the board was confirmed by the membership at the annual meeting. Rhonda and Thomas Coon, Portage, were elected to new terms as trustees by the membership.

Youth trustee Grace DeFrancesco’s term expired at the annual meeting, when she was recognized for her service. Melissa Humphrey was also recognized for her service as a trustee representing GreenStone Farm Credit Services. Humphrey resigned from the board after serving as board treasurer and finance committee chair for the past five years.

Sara A. (Sally) Stuby also retired from the board and was recognized for her tenure and leadership of the Michigan 4-H Foundation. During her 14 years as a trustee, she served as board president, vice president, immediate past president, board development committee chair and most recently, chair of the personnel committee.

After graduating from Central Michigan University in spring 2021, Mecosta County 4-H alum Kiara Cushway sent a follow-up letter thanking Mecosta County 4-H once again for her 4-H scholarship, citing 4-H for helping in her educational and career choices.


By Abbey Miller

Mecosta County 4-H alumna Kiara Cushway was involved in Michigan 4-H, Michigan State University Extension’s youth development program, for 14 years. She started out as a member of Big Rapids Community Club and spent most of her 4-H career as a member of Grant Center Pioneers 4-H Club.

“4-H was one of the most memorable experiences I had growing up and played a large role in shaping me to become who I am today,” Cushway said. “The life lessons I learned and the skills and friendships I gained during 4-H, as well as the connections I forged with my animals, have meant a lot to me and have helped foster my passion and love for animals and nature.”

Cushway participated in a variety of 4-H project areas, including turkeys, pigs, ducks, arts and crafts, flower arranging and basketry, among other things. She attended the Mecosta County 4-H Camp as a child, and was a 4-H camp counselor.

“4-H helped foster my love for learning and taught me many valuable skills that helped me succeed in school and as a developing member of my community,” she said. “4-H also provided me with mentors who were invested in my success and who believed in my abilities and were willing to help me grow and learn. As a young person, these relationships and opportunities meant the world to me and helped me grow into the person I am today.”

She continued, “When I was young, pledging my head to clearer thinking, my heart to greater loyalty, my hands to larger service and my health to better living may have just been words that were spoken at meetings or before shows. But as I have grown and developed, they have become a mantra that I strive to live by. The meaning behind these words and the actions required by them encourage me to use the lessons I have learned in 4-H to work towards making the world a better place in whatever ways I can.”

After graduating from Big Rapids High School, Cushway received the 2017 Mecosta County 4-H Scholarship from the Mecosta County Fair Board that she applied towards her post-secondary education at Central Michigan University (CMU). During her undergraduate years, she had the opportunity to study abroad and complete a variety of research projects. She earned a bachelor’s degree in biology in spring 2021.

Ever grateful for the foundation the 4-H program provided her and for the financial support of the scholarship, Cushway sent a follow-up letter thanking the Mecosta County 4-H community after her graduation.

“I am very thankful for the support of Mecosta County 4-H and its investment in my future,” wrote Cushway. “I would not have had the flexibility and opportunity I did without the support I had from groups like yours. I am also very thankful for the experiences, lessons learned, friends made and skills that I acquired during my 4-H years participating in the Mecosta County 4-H program. The memories I have from 4-H are some of the best I have, and 4-H was an integral part of the foundation of my educational and life success!”

Cushway also shared some of the highlights of her college experience at CMU. This included a faculty-led study abroad in New Zealand and a semester abroad in Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands where she studied tropical ecology in the rainforests of the Amazon, island biogeography in the famed Galapagos Archipelago and marine ecology in the Pacific Ocean. Cushway was also engaged in a CMU research lab that was focused on native freshwater mussels. Through the lab, Cushway conducted her own research in Michigan rivers, presented at local, state and national and international conferences, and submitted her work for publication. Cushway’s prestigious efforts at CMU were honored with the 2021 CMU Provost’s Award, a group of awards given to only 10 outstanding undergraduate students.

With her undergraduate work complete, Cushway plans to continue her education at Texas State University where she has obtained a fully funded graduate assistantship and she will pursue a master’s degree in aquatic resources. Cushway credits 4-H for helping to shape both her educational and career choices.

“When I graduated high school, I was unsure about what I might want to pursue, but because of 4-H, I knew that I loved working with nature and animals. When I found the biology program and the scientific research that I eventually became involved in, it felt natural to fall into a path that involved animals and conservation. My experiences with 4-H left me very well prepared for both working with and caring for animals in a research setting and designing and conducting scientific research. The love that I have for animals and science that 4-H fostered within me became one of the driving forces behind my post-secondary education, and the feeling of being a part of something bigger and better than yourself that came with being a part of 4-H is something I strive for as a student and a future career professional.”

Beyond helping set her down her current path in life, Cushway also thanks 4-H for helping to develop life skills that benefit her personally and professionally.

“The life lessons that I gained through 4-H have been both multitudinous and indispensable. Caring for my animal projects taught me responsibility and dependability and helped me develop a strong work ethic. Completing record books for my market animals taught me how to conduct basic research and balance and calculate budgets. Working with other 4-H members and clubs taught me collaboration and how to be an effective member of a team. Working with animals also taught me that practice, patience and preparedness can take you far in life, but that it is also important to be willing to be flexible and adapt to situations when things don’t go as planned.”

When asked one of her most memorable 4-H experiences, Cushway recalled one of her first times showing chickens, at 5 or 6 years old as a Cloverbud, a 4-H program for 5- to 7-year-olds. She was very shy and terrified to participate in showmanship. Her parents and sisters had practiced with her to prepare, and she knew exactly what to do, but froze in front of the judge.

“I probably would have quit then and there,” she said. “But, an older girl came up and helped me walk through the showmanship. Her encouragement gave me the confidence to finish the show, and her willingness to help a little kid she didn’t even know has stuck with me, and I think this really embodies what it means to be a 4-H’er.”

Cushway highly recommends 4-H to everyone, she says. “The life lessons I learned and the friendships and skills I developed during my years in 4-H are invaluable to me and have helped me in almost every aspect of my life. The memories I have of 4-H will always be dear to me, and the experiences, connections and opportunities that I had are something that I hope all children could have access to during their formative years and as they are growing to become a part of our local and global communities.”

To learn more about becoming involved with Michigan 4-H as a youth member or adult volunteer, visit the Michigan 4-H website.

Abbey Miller, Director of the Michigan 4-H Foundation

Abbey Miller, Director, Michigan 4-H Foundation

Abbey Miller, Director, Michigan 4-H Foundation

Miller is charged with overseeing the organization’s operations and facilitating its strategic development under the direction and guidance of the Michigan 4-H Foundation Board of Trustees and in collaboration with MSU Extension and University Advancement.

Abbey Miller has been named director of the Michigan 4-H Foundation. She is charged with overseeing the organization’s operations and facilitating its strategic development under the direction and guidance of the Michigan 4-H Foundation Board of Trustees and in collaboration with Michigan State University (MSU) Extension and University Advancement. She begins this new role on June 19.

“The board is excited to re-establish this important role within the Michigan 4-H Foundation,” said Tom Bosserd, president of the Michigan 4-H Foundation Board of Trustees. “This position provides critical leadership for the foundation’s strategic plan and supporting donor relations. We look forward to working with Abbey in this role.”

The Michigan 4-H Foundation is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization that supports the mission and vision of MSU Extension 4-H Youth Development statewide. The foundation receives donations from individuals and organizations to support 4-H youth development learning, training and activities.

Miller has a long history with the foundation, beginning in 2001 when she was hired as a graphic designer. Later, she became the organization’s communications manager and soon after added annual giving to her responsibilities.

“4-H has always been an important part of my life,” Miller explained. “From my early days as a member myself to watching my kids thrive in 4-H now. It has been intertwined in my personal life and my career. I am excited to take on these new responsibilities and work with a board of trustees who continue to focus on youth development and life skills.”

In 2017, Miller’s role expanded to include donor communications for MSU Extension and in 2019, she added donor and alumni communications for the MSU College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR). Miller worked closely with CANR Advancement and University Advancement staff, supporting major gift storytelling and donor and alumni event communications.

Julie Chapin, director of MSU Extension’s children and youth programs, state 4-H leader and Michigan 4-H Foundation secretary, said Miller’s knowledge of the foundation and commitment to youth development make her a perfect fit for the position.

“We are thrilled to have Abbey taking the helm as the next director of the Michigan 4-H Foundation,” Chapin said. “Her 20 years of experience with the foundation and deep knowledge of 4-H philanthropy have equipped her for success as the Michigan 4-H Foundation director.”

Miller has bachelors’ degrees in animal science and in agriculture and natural resources communications from MSU and a certificate in developing annual sustainability from The Fundraising School at Indiana University’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.

Miller lives with her husband and two children in rural Ionia County where they are active in 4-H. In 2013 Ionia County 4-H named her Volunteer of the Year.

To learn more about the Michigan 4-H Foundation, visit https://mi4hfdtn.org/ .

Change Makers from Alpena

In northeastern Michigan, the fight against microplastics in the Great Lakes is being championed by the Alpena 4-H Tech Changemakers.

Change Makers from Alpena

In northeast Michigan, the fight against microplastics in the Great
Lakes is being championed by the Alpena 4-H Tech Changemakers
thanks to a partnership between Microsoft and National 4-H Council.

In this era of beach clean-ups, plastic bag bans and plastic eating bacteria, it seems like everyone is trying to answer the question: How do we “turn off the tap” on plastic pollution in our bodies of water? We’ve heard from legislators, scientists, environmentalists and surfers, but perhaps the greatest voice in the fight against single-use plastics, also called microplastics, is that of our youth.

In northeastern Michigan, the fight against microplastics in the Great Lakes is being championed by the Alpena 4-H Tech Changemakers. The 4-H Tech Changemakers, a Michigan 4-H program of MSU Extension, is turning the tide on single-use plastics in Michigan through conversation and education.

The 4-H Tech Changemakers project is made possible by a partnership between Microsoft and National 4-H Council through the Michigan 4-H Foundation. This partnership provided grants for local 4-H programs to empower youth to address community issues through technology. As a result, youth develop valuable leadership skills, make strong community connections and prepare themselves for a lifetime of making positive change.

Alpena is just one of the 91 communities across 15 states with 4-H Tech Changemakers teams, all of whom are finding technological solutions to local challenges. In Alpena, youth decided to address a community issue that was very close to home: the protection of the Great Lakes.

Since their home is nestled on the shores of beautiful Lake Huron, the residents of Alpena have a special and direct connection with the Great Lakes. However, it turns out that not everyone is aware of the negative effect that their connections may have on the lakes themselves.

Through a series of educational presentations to community groups like the Alpena Rotary Club, Kiwanis Club and the Alpena Community College Association of Lifelong Learners, 4-H youth have started some important conversations. In the presentations, youth educate community members about the sources of microplastics, the harm they present to wildlife and human health, and solutions to the problem on individual, community and national levels.

The youth also engage in community service through cleaning up beaches and volunteering at community events to promote waste-reducing practices. In addition, the youth used their tech literacy to design a website dedicated to marine debris education, with resources specific to the Great Lakes region.

As a result of their hard work, there have been great changes in the approaches of the Alpena community. Businesses and organizations contact the 4-H Tech Changemakers, seeking their wisdom and guidance in reducing their organizational waste. Currently, the youth are partnering with a local theater to implement new recycling and compost bins, bulk candy counters, and a “bring your own container program” for popcorn and soda. The Friends of the Alpena Farmers Market have also been inspired by the youth to write a grant for reusable bags. Throughout the city, the 4-H Tech Changemakers are helping Alpena residents chart the course for a healthier Great Lakes region.

Lewis Bordeaux, 4-H alum

Lewis Bordeaux, 4-H alum

An estate gift from Gogebic County 4-H alum Lewis Bordeaux will help sustain the work of the Michigan 4-H Foundation and its support for Michigan 4-H Youth Development.

In appreciation for the solid foundation 4-H provided to his life, Bordeaux made a planned gift to 4-H in the area of greatest need by naming the Michigan 4-H Foundation as a beneficiary of his estate. He passed away on July 23, 2022.

Bordeaux was a University of Michigan graduate who began his career abroad in 1970 as an international affairs and training specialist. He was located in the Middle East with the Raytheon Corporation and Avco Overseas Corporation, serving as an English language instructor and interpreter for the Royal Saudi Air Defense Corps and the Royal Saudi Coast Guard. Bordeaux then worked for 20 years as a flight services and safety instructor and director for English language and computer training for the Saudi Arabian Airlines. He retired in 2007 after serving 10 years with the Booz Allen Hamilton Company as a senior training specialist with the Royal Saudi Navy, though he continued to serve as a special training consultant for the Saudi Arabian Airlines.

Bordeaux, who was inducted into the Michigan 4-H Emerald Clover Society in 2010, shared that his experience as a Gogebic County 4-H member prepared him for his career and life abroad. He served as a member of county, Upper Peninsula and state 4-H service clubs; a National 4-H Conference delegate in 1962 and a Michigan IFYE delegate to Japan in 1966. He was also a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer to India in 1968 and was a life member of the IFYE Association of the USA, attending 30 European IFYE conferences, three U.S. National IFYE Conferences and three World IFYE Conferences. As an IFYE USA Association member, Bordeaux contributed to the ongoing involvement of 4-H youth members in intercultural learning activities at local, county, state, regional, national and international levels. He served on the National IFYE Association board from 1998 to 2001.

Bordeaux’s estate gift qualified him for membership in the Cornerstone Society. Donors who document a planned gift are recognized as A.G. Kettunen Society members. Established in 2007, this society provides lifetime recognition to donors who have made documented future gifts to 4-H. It allows donors to share their wishes and the impact they would like to see their gifts make to benefit Michigan’s youth. A.G. Kettunen Society members receive a recognition certificate, permanent acknowledgement as legacy donors in the annual report, and, for gifts that exceed $25,000 at maturity, recognition as Cornerstone Society members.

The Michigan 4-H Foundation invites any donor considering a planned gift to contact the foundation at 517-353-6692 to verify that the intent of the gift can be met.