I grew up in a mostly rural community and many of the kids that I knew were involved in 4-H, myself included.
Starting around age 10, I raised rabbits for the county fair, and in doing so, learned a lot about responsibility, the importance of keeping to a schedule and other skills that I still use to this day.
Of course, 4-H isn’t just for kids that live in farming communities or rural towns. Kids that live in more urban areas, areas such as Macomb County, can find the program just as valuable.
“Many people think 4-H is just for kids who live on farms or those interested in raising and selling animals, but that’s not true,” says Kathy Jamieson, an educator with the Michigan State University Extension Center in Clinton Township. “Although 4-H has its beginning rooted in agriculture, 4-H today has adapted and changed as the needs of youth have changed.”
Today, 4-H offers a range of programming on different interest areas from science and technology to gardening and health — and is the largest youth development organization in Michigan.
“Each year more than 200,000 young people explore what interests and excites them as they grow through Michigan 4-H,” Jamieson adds.
Macomb County offerings and how to join
Macomb County offers nearly 40 4-H clubs for kids to join and explore everything from mindfulness, meditation and physical health to gardening, animal care, poetry writing, history and much more — plus, tons of secondary skills that come along with learning about these topics.
“While youth learn about their specific project area, they’re also learning something else: critical life skills that help them contribute to their communities now and in the future,” Jamieson adds. “Leadership, time management, record keeping, critical thinking and communication are just a few of the life skills learned through 4-H.”
4-H is free to join and runs yearly from Sept. 1-Aug. 31. You can join any time of year, but Jamieson suggests that newcomers join at the beginning of the program year, which is in the fall, by reaching out to your local club or contacting the MSU Extension office at 586-469-6431.
Best of all, your child doesn’t have to be hooked on a specific area of interest to join.
While some of the 4-H programming is a time commitment, the 4-H in Macomb County also offers Short Term Special Interest (SPIN) clubs, which feature six to eight one-hour sessions that focus on a specific area so that kids can get a better idea if a topic is something that truly interests them.
And because 4-H clubs are run by the youth that are in them, the kids have an active role in what they’ll learn and who they learn with.
“No matter the project area, kids have an opportunity to showcase their work to the community, thereby enhancing their confidence, creativity and communication skills,” Jamieson says. “Youth that join 4-H become part of a larger community — locally, statewide and nationally. Through 4-H, kids will develop lifelong friendships, meet caring adults who can serve as their mentors and even win scholarships.”
For more information on 4-H in Macomb County including current 4-H offerings and details to join visit the MSU Extension Center of Macomb County’s website.
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