PAW PAW, Mich. — Every year, counties across Michigan offer 4-H youth ages 11 and 12 the opportunity to participate in Michigan 4-H State Awards Program 4-H Mark of Excellence essay contest. As part of the contest, each county may select two essays to be recognized as winners.
The essay theme is “Because of 4-H, I can…” and the youth referred to their 4-H experiences as ones that have allowed them to make new friends, try new projects, explore new places and help their dreams come true. Some credited 4-H with helping them increase their public speaking skills, confidence, and time management skills. Other 4-H’ers wrote with excitement about their club meetings, events, exhibits and community service projects.
“These young members look forward to the future and are eager to see where 4-H will take them next,” said Jake DeDecker, Michigan State University Extension 4-H State Leader. “The Mark of Excellence essay contest not only provides a space for youth to think critically about their experiences but also recognizes them for engaging in these learning opportunities.”
Overall, 44 4-H members from 30 counties were honored as 2020 Mark of Excellence county winners. This year Brynn Cornelison’s essay represented Van Buren County. Brynn is 11 years old, has been in 4-H for 3 years, is a member of Almena Happy Helpers 4-H Club and attends Mattawan schools.
Each recipient received a medal, and their winning essays were added to the Mark of Excellence history book at the Michigan 4-H Foundation and State 4-H Office at MSU Extension.
Brynn’s essay; “Because of 4-H, I gained self-confidence. I have a learning disability that makes it hard for me to write and spell. Because of 4-H, I use my love of chickens, rabbits, and other animals to help me with my school work. Last year, I taught my teacher how to show chickens. I had to plan and write out the steps. Then I showed my teacher and class how to do it. I even got to bring in my show chicken to the school. Doing this also helped me speak in front of people. I also read a lot of books about chickens to help me reach my reading goals. I also showed a poem I wrote at fair last year.
Because of 4-H, I can make friends. I make friends in my club and also with people in other clubs. My first year, I made a friend from another club and look forward to seeing her every year at fair. We also call each other to talk, especially when we are having a bad day. Even though we are not in the same club, we help each other at fair with barn chores and getting ready for showmanship.
Because of 4-H, I learned a lot about animals. I started with chickens at first. My first year, I got 5th place in showmanship so last year I really studied a lot about chickens and got first place showmanship. I think teaching my teacher about it also helped me do so well. After my first fair, I bought a rabbit with my fair premiums. I showed him during my second year and got second place in showmanship. I also decided to show turkeys last year. I used the money I got from auctioning my turkeys to buy another rabbit to show. I am working towards getting other animals like ducks or goats.
Because of 4-H, I learned about business. I sell my eggs to my parents work friends. I am also selling turkeys to people. I am planning on adding baked goods to my business. Because of 4-H, I can learn about all kinds of things besides animals. I learned how to make bath bombs and scrubs. I then, taught my friends how to do it during our New Year’s sleepover. I learned how to do painting projects. I learned about insects. I also learned about recycling and engineering. I love that there are so many things I can learn about and show at fair.
4-H has been the best thing I have done because you can help people with community projects. You can earn money to use for other projects. You can learn about anything by signing up for lots of projects. I plan on doing it as long as I can and eventually becoming a teen and adult leader. I love 4-H and what it has done for me.”
— MSU Extension- Van Buren County
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