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4-H members give back to group

Courtesy photo Laci Mitchell standing with a steer. Mitchell first started showing animals at a young age. With the guidance of her family she raised lamb, steer, hogs and continued through fails and successes.

ESCANABA — National 4-H Week was celebrated earlier this month. 4-H is an organization for youth ages 5 to 19. According to 4-H Youth Development Program Coordinator Dave Radloff, many members become leaders in the program they grew up in.

“When you hear the term ‘I bleed green’ from a 4-H volunteer it means 4-H is in their blood,” Radloff said. “Having been the 4-H program coordinator in Delta County for almost 20 years, it is exciting for me to see this statement rings true. When you grow up in 4-H, it is a part of you and you want to give back to the program that helped you become who you are.”

Radloff bleeds green. When he was a kid, he attended 4-H summer camp in Alger County. He started his professional 4-H career in Alger County as a 4-H program coordinator in 1998 and transferred to Delta County in 2000. Radloff is one of two 4-H educators in the Upper Peninsula and one of 15 program coordinators, one in every county in the U.P. He also serves as an educator with Career Exploration and Work Force Preparation in the Children and Youth Institute of Michigan State University (MSU) Extension. He has also been the leader of the Delta Sure Shots 4-H shooting club for 18 years.

According to Radloff, Delta County’s 4-H program is strong.

“The 4-H year runs from Sept. 1 to Aug. 31,” said Radloff. “During that time, Delta County 4-H had 300 club members, 805 additional youth participated in short term 4-H programs, and 387 youth participated in school programs provided by MSUE staff.”

Recently, three former 4-H club members, now in college, decided to give back to the club they love. Pierce Mayville served as a camp counselor at U.P. 4-H Summer Day Camp and 4-H Outdoor Skills Survivor Camp. Laci Mitchell continues to be involved with the U.P. State Fair and serves as a project leader in both the Upper Hand 4-H Beef Club and County Line Swine 4-H Club groups. Cassandra Krenek recently completed 4-H Shooting Sports Instructor training and is a leader in the Delta Sure Shots 4-H Club.­

Mayville was introduced to 4-H when he was six years old. At the age of 13 Mayville took a couple business courses through 4-H that Radloff recommended. He took an economics course, a course called the “Going Solo Program,” where they made jewelry, and he created a business selling “Crayondles,” and a business called “WormCo,” selling worm casings.

“I chose to market to elderly women and called my business, ‘Old Lady Jewelry’ … Our business models were put into a computer program that simulated real life profits and losses,” described Mayville.

Mayville and his WormCo group decided to go for the group entrepreneurship award. Radloff helped them practice interview skills, which helped them win the award according to Mayville.

Mayville’s experiences through 4-H has taught him a lot about being part of a team.

“Sometimes you’d get paired up with or have to work with people you wouldn’t socialize with otherwise. Even though you didn’t know them, you still have to cooperate and get your designated task done. I’ve also learned how to share leadership among multiple individuals. I know when to let someone else take control for awhile, but I also know how to take the lead and get the group focused. I myself have become more focused in all my activities and can really achieve something when I set my mind to it. 4-H has allowed me to be myself and be creative. I am now not afraid to have a voice in my community and get involved in things I find interesting,” Mayville said.

Mitchell started 4-H nine years ago. She always wanted a lamb, and with the help of her grandpa, grandma, and parents — who had always been active in 4-H — she got her first lamb. Through years of raising various animals and presenting them at the fair she realized the stressful projects were where she learned the most. Mitchell said it took a lot of patience, time, dedication and a few bruises, but at the end of all the 4-H projects she came out with a profit and the urge to start all over for the next year.

“(4-H) has given me confidence that I can and have the ability to do anything that I set my mind to … I have grown with my projects in the past years … I know how to run a meeting and how to communicate with others. I can take charge at any event and I am a role model to younger children. 4-H has completely changed my life for the better and given me the memories and experiences that many kids don’t get to have. I have learned countless lessons that will follow me for the rest of my life,” Mitchell said.

At age six, Krenek was introduced to the 4-H shooting program. She believes shooting sports helped her explore options after high school and showed her she can do she puts her mind to. Krenek now assists the range master at meetings and works with younger members.

“4-H has taught me the value of time well spent in nature and has helped to point me in the direction of a fisheries and wildlife degree. It has shown me how my leadership skills can benefit others as well as myself,” said Krenek.

While each 4-H club operates independently and sets their own schedule, 4-H Youth Development is delivered locally and operated through partnerships between county governments, MSU Extension and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“The partnership ensures that what 4-H promises in outcomes for young people is backed by the research and knowledge base on the nation’s premier land-grant university and the support of county, state, and federal governments,” Radloff said.

For more information about getting involved with a 4-H club or program contact the MSU Extension office at 906-786-3032, or connect through Facebook at www.facebook.com/DeltaCounty4H.

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