Michigan 4-H Spectacular Youth Leadership Institute connects Michigan teens with wide variety of inspiring leaders

Michigan teenagers who attended the Michigan 4-H Spectacular Youth Leadership Institute interacted with leaders from MSU, Michigan and around the world at the 2022 event, held December 3-4 in East Lansing.

The Michigan 4-H Spectacular Youth Leadership Institute (SYLI) is an annual event hosted by Michigan State University Extension that provides youth with an opportunity to interact with leaders and develop their own leadership skills. SYLI 2022, held December 3-4 on the MSU campus, was attended by speakers and guests from Michigan, Texas, Ukraine, Turkey, Russia, Nigeria, India, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Taiwan, Kenya, Thailand, Pakistan and Libya. Speakers and guests offered the youthful attendees different perspectives on leadership and shared inspirational examples of how they have served in leadership roles.

Nicole Cash, a Wisconsin 4-H graduate and current student at Northern Michigan University, served as the keynote speaker for SYLI. Nicole received the 2023 National 4-H Youth In Action Award in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) category in recognition of her leadership in designing and building custom Power Wheels ride-on mobility devices for children with disabilities. along with her robotics club. In her keynote address at SYLI, Nicole emphasized that she was “just a normal kid” who was offered the opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of others and that she and her teammates took on the challenge of creating something complete novel without knowing how to successfully build a mobility device for someone with a physical disability.

Youth who attended SYLI also had the opportunity to learn about and learn about a variety of cultures through the participation of international students from MSU who participate in the Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant Program (FLTA). Fulbright FLTAs from Turkey, Russia, Nigeria, India, Bangladesh, Philippines, Taiwan, Kenya, Thailand, Pakistan and Libya acted as cultural ambassadors on behalf of their countries by promoting SYLI participants through educational exhibitions, cultural artifacts, games, music and dance presented. MSU Community Language School interim director Carol Wilson-Duffy and MSU Fulbright FLTA coordinator Danielle Steider were instrumental in connecting Fulbright FLTA to the SYLI through a collaboration between 4-H and the MSU College of Arts and Letters.

Fulbright FLTA students Ahmed Yahia (Libya), Edwin Owade (Kenya), and Candace Kay Kristen Lleses (Philippines) served as panellists at the SYLI Youth Power Panel presentations, helping to provide participants with culturally diverse perspectives on youth leadership. Other panelists featured in the SYLI Youth Power Panel presentations were:

  • Erin Kramer — Michigan 4-H alum and Democratic Engagement Coordinator at the MSU Center for Community Engaged Learning.
  • Maezie Nettleton – Michigan 4-H alum and co-founder of Michigan 4-H Helping with Rainbow Hands Teen Leadership Club.
  • Lola Miletus – Michigan 4-H international exchange program alum from Ukraine who joined the panel via Zoom from Poland.
  • Sergio Martínez-Beltrán – Puerto Rico 4-H alum, MSU alum and currently a Texas Capitol reporter for NPR’s The Texas Newsroom.

The SYLI program also included a screening of The Stories Project, a documentary that told the stories of Lansing, Michigan refugee youth who served as leaders and participants in a youth leadership camp run by the Lansing-based Refugee Development Center (RDC). became. . dr Carrie Symons, the film’s director, and Mariah Shafer, RDC’s outreach director, joined SYLI to lead an educational session on immigration and the experiences of youth leaders who came to Michigan as refugees.

At SYLI, teens participated in a variety of field trips around MSU’s campus, which also helped provide inspiration and examples of how people engage in community building, advocacy, social change, and environmental conservation through their leadership. Excursion experiences included:

  • That MSU Museum to experience exhibit 5° Celsius, an art installation featuring works by more than a dozen national and international artists, scientists and researchers dealing with the global climate crisis.
  • That MSU Broad Art Museum, where students toured an exhibit of LaToya Ruby Frazier’s art that focused on the experiences of people living through the Flint water crisis.
  • That msu butterfly garden project, where teens folded paper butterflies in collaboration with a collaborative project led by artist-in-residence Zahra Resh, the MSU Age Alive in the College of Osteopathic Medicine and the Asian Studies Center Japan Council that will fill the atrium of the MSU International Center with thousands of origami butterflies in March 2023 to commemorate the third anniversary of the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • That msu milk barn, where students practiced handling animals to understand group dynamics, communication and adaptive leadership, and then applied their experience working with people in a team environment.

Through these experiences, as well as attending educational events focused on leadership styles, career preparation, ethics, core values ​​and social identities, youth who participated in the SYLI program explored youth leadership from a variety of perspectives and left the program with new tools and knowledge that they apply in future leadership roles.

The 2022 Michigan 4-H SYLI was supported by a grant from the Michigan 4-H Foundation. The 2023 Michigan 4-H SYLI is tentatively scheduled for November 10-12 in East Lansing. For more information, please contact MSU Extension educators Brian Wibby ([email protected], 906-439-5065) or Roxanne Turner ([email protected], 517-546-3950).

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