A dream fulfilled: 4-H participation as a youth was the catalyst for a career in government.
When high school sophomore Domonique Clemons job shadowed 4th District County Commissioner John Northrup during the Genesee County 4-H Citizenship Academy, he had no idea he would be elected as a county commissioner in the exact same seat as Commissioner Northrup, 10 years later. Yet it was that experience that helped to light the spark for Clemons’ future educational and career choices.
“My 4-H involvement instilled in me that everyone can have an impact on government on all levels, regardless of age or background,” said Clemons.
As a youth, Clemons, a Michigan 4-H alumnus from Flint and 2018 Michigan 4-H Emerald Clover Society inductee, spent three years in Michigan State University Extension programs like 4-H Capitol Experience and the Genesee County 4-H Citizenship Academy. He then worked for 4-H for five years, serving as a student assistant for 4-H leadership and civic engagement while attending MSU to obtain a bachelor’s degree in public policy. Clemons credits these 4-H experiences for helping to develop the foundation for his current career in local government.
“4-H was not only a program that I was able to learn about different things, and meet new friends, but it also was very important in my development,” said Clemons. “It was my participation in 4-H that taught me important skills like communication, leadership, organizational skills, how to use Robert’s Rules of Order, how to shake hands with someone, and how to be an active citizen in my community. Many of these skills I still use today. 4-H provided a foundation for my leadership development and gave me the opportunity to sharpen my skills and put them to use as a youth participant as well as a student assistant on staff.”
After graduating from MSU, Clemons went on to obtain a master’s degree in political management from George Washington University before starting his political career in 2019 as the legislative director for State Representative Alex Garza (D-Taylor). Since then, his roles have grown to include treasurer for both the Genesee County Democratic Party and Young Democrats of Genesee County, as well as becoming the executive director of the Genesee County Leadership Corps. In November 2020, he was elected to the position of 4th District Genesee County Commissioner and after taking office in January 2021, he was elected vice-chairman of the board and chair of the Public Works Committee.
Despite his busy schedule, Clemons continues his involvement with 4-H today as a volunteer, supporting the 4-H Capitol Experience as a guest speaker and for several years as a judge for the Michigan 4-H State Awards Program. He encourages others to join the 4-H program as well, to help explore their own interests and build the foundation for their future.
“4-H is a great resource for young folks to learn skills, make new friends, and explore career options,” said Clemons. “Often, 4-H is seen as something that is only for kids interested in farming and animals, but that is certainly not the case. 4-H has so many programs and resources for everyone. As a student who grew up in an urban setting, 4-H had a huge impact on me, and I would highly encourage inner city and urban students to get just as involved with 4-H.”
To learn more about Michigan 4-H as a youth member or volunteer, visit 4h.msue.msu.edu.