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EAST LANSING, MI -- During the weekend of April 15-17, 4-H families from across Michigan joined with youth and adults throughout the nation to “make the best better” in their communities. Orchestrated and led by Michigan 4-H youth, six service projects were held throughout Michigan as part of several national days of service.

“This service project helped me to do something good for my school and my community,” said Kaylee Herrygers, a 4-H’er from Oceana County, who planned a gardening education event at a local school. “I am really excited with all the ideas I have for next year’s service project!”

The six 4-H service projects were all organized by members of the Michigan 4-H State Youth Leadership Council (SLYC), a group of outstanding 4-H teens who promote 4-H throughout the state and provide a youth perspective on the development of various state 4-H programs. The 4-H SLYC members decided to plan the projects as part of three special days of service and action: Global Youth Service Day (April 15-17), 4-H Youth Action Advocacy Day (April 14) and the Spartan Day of Service (April 16). As the youth development program of Michigan State University (MSU) Extension, Michigan 4-H is uniquely connected to all three days of service, and Michigan 4-H SLYC members found that to be a compelling reason to step up and take action.

“I wanted to organize a service project because I think it is important for kids to know where their food comes from and what goes into making it,” said Tom Purves, Oakland County 4-H’er, who orchestrated an agricultural awareness event at an elementary school in his county. “I hope I helped the kids better understand agriculture.”

Other projects led and supported by Michigan 4-H SLYC members were:

• A tree-planting event at the Comden-Towle Model Forest in Montcalm County. Nearly 40 4-H youth, parents and volunteers from Montcalm and Mecosta counties planted 250 white spruce trees. The event was organized and led by Rory Eldridge of Montcalm County and supported by Anne Thompson, also of Montcalm County, and Rebecca Herzog of Mecosta County.

• A 4-H booth at the MSU College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Small Animals Day in East Lansing. At the booth, event attendees created coloring pages that were donated to C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. More than 70 coloring pages were designed at the project, which was  organized by Emily Kittendorf of Monroe County and supported by Piper Pantalone of Oakland County and Loren King of St. Joseph County.

• A cleanup of the Emmet County Fairgrounds. Fourteen 4-H youth came together to pick up the grandstands and horse arena in preparation for summer events. The project was organized by Katie Kurburski of Emmet County.

• A gardening education program for fourth grade students in Oceana County. Students potted a vegetable plant, learned about gardening and were encouraged to donate their vegetable crops to local food donation programs. The project was organized by Kaylee Herrygers of Oceana County.

• A book drive to benefit children in Flint. Books were collected through May 16 and to be donated to programs serving Flint children as reading has been identified as a way to combat the negative effects of lead contamination. The project is being hosted in Monroe and Lenawee counties by Samantha Beaudrie and Chase Benham, respectively.

“We are so proud of both the Michigan 4-H members who planned these service projects and those who gave their time and service to help,” said Julie Chapin, state leader for the MSU Extension Michigan 4-H program. “They’re all a great example of the kind of true leaders we’re growing in 4-H: youth who lend a hand where it is needed, who find solutions to local problems and who have the skills to lead, both in their communities and at the state level.”

To learn more about the Michigan 4-H SLYC or Michigan 4-H in general, visit 4h.msue.msu.edu.

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