Children & Youth Impacts: Preparing Youth for Future Careers


May 29, 2019

The Issue

Many young adults (ages 16-24) find themselves disconnected from both the educational system and labor market: in Michigan, this rate is 13 percent – higher than the nationwide average. Even more alarming is the disconnection rate for minority youth, which is double the statewide average in some populations. This detachment during the pivotal years of early independence can have damaging long-term effects, from lower incomes to poor mental health outcomes. To combat this growing issue, youth need assistance to prepare for and find gainful employment and educational opportunities. Furthermore, they need well-rounded job skills and the ability to explore careers in a safe and informative way. 

MSU Extension Action

To meet this important need, Michigan State University (MSU) Extension offers 4-H Youth Development programs that focus on entrepreneurship, financial literacy, career exploration and workforce preparation. Through various experiences, MSU Extension equips young Michiganders with the skills and competencies critical to any job while also allowing youth to explore various career options and entrepreneurship. In 2018, this programming reached more than 18,000 youth participants in 76 Michigan counties.

“I know more clearly what a good resume looks like and it is always good to practice problem-solving, teamwork and management.” 4-H career exploration and workforce development youth participant

The Impact

As a result of these vocational-related activities, thousands of Michigan youth are better equipped to make important decisions about their professional future, ready to contribute to the workforce and able to take fiscal responsibility in their personal lives. After completing their 4-H experiences, youth reported high levels of skill and knowledge about career exploration, workforce development and financial literacy topics.

Impact by the Numbers

18,000 participants served with Michigan 4-H career exploration and workforce development programming.

Of those surveyed:

  • 98% understood they were responsible for their financial future.
  • 98% knew how to present themselves in a professional manner.
  • 85% felt they had the skills to successfully manage their money.
  • 75% planned to start their own businesses.
  • 75% knew where they wanted to end up and had a plan on how to get there.

Exploring college and careers with Michigan 4-H

In 2018, MSU Extension offered Michigan 4-H’ers the first MSU Institute of Agricultural Technology (IAT) Campus Tour Trip. This twoday event took 13 high school-aged youth on a tour to five of MSU’s 12 IAT campuses across the state.  As they visited the various campuses, youth learned about cutting-edge career opportunities in the world of agriculture, such as drones and robotics, as well as the jobs among the most in-demand. While touring the facilities, youth also discovered alternative post-secondary education options outside a four-year degree and the factors to consider when selecting a college. “The trip was very impactful for the youth,” commented Betty Jo Krosnicki, MSU Extension 4-H career exploration educator who organized the tour. “Many of them had no idea how many jobs existed in the agricultural industry and they were all surprised to learn about all the options available to them outside of a standard university education. I am confident many of them will pursue ag careers, which is important as we think about the future of food security in our country and around the world. Regardless of what field they pursue, they are each now better equipped to consider all the options that await them after high school.”

“I have learned how to manage my money better. I started to save and I now buy more ‘needs’ than ‘wants.’” 4-H financial literacy program participant

In 2018, the state’s $63.1 million investment in MSU AgBioResearch and MSU Extension generated more than $1 billion for Michigan residents. Every dollar the state invested in MSU AgBioResearch and MSU Extension resulted in an additional $2.26 leveraged in federal funds and external contracts, grants and other revenues, as well as $5.80 in additional community benefits. As a result, MSU Extension and MSU AgBioResearch are able to serve Michigan residents with a benefit/cost ratio of 16:1.

These cost benefits are huge, but they are not the only benefits that MSU Extension brings to the state. Through Michigan 4-H Youth Development, more than 203,000 youth learn compassion, respect, leadership skills, responsibility, the value of hard work and other critical abilities. In addition, MSU Extension early childhood education programs prepare thousands of Michigan’s youngest children for school success. Learn how you can contribute to this type of programming at:


Tags: 4-h, 4-h careers & entrepreneurship, careers & entrepreneurship

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