15 April 2011
Contact: Katie Alexander
EAST LANSING, Mich. – Twenty-five members of the Michigan 4-H Youth Conservation Council (M4HYCC) are finalizing their research on Michigan wetland conservation to make their way to the state Capitol, April 28.
“M4-HYCC gives young people the opportunity to build confidence and develop leadership and presentation skills. They learn in depth about environmental issues and state government and how they as Michigan citizens can influence public policy, to better understand the democratic process,” Andrea Grix, M4-HYCC coordinator said.
Introduced to the Michigan Senate in 1999, M4-HYCC is a one-year learning experience researching and presenting conservation issues to Michigan’s legislative committees. In addition to improving life-long skills, participants work with key decision-makers in local and state government and form lasting connections with peers across the state.
“In this program I meet other teens like me who are concerned about the environment and bring unique experiences from their own region. We can learn the issues each region faces and work together to improve Michigan’s environment,” said Kara Hodges, third year M4-HYCC participant and a freshmen at Michigan Technological University.
The group consisting of youth ages 14-19 have worked collaboratively from five regions of Michigan on research and solutions to present to the senate committee. A variety of experts in the state originally presented five topics to M4-HYCC from which to choose this year’s research project.
“With the new governor, a choice has to be made to keep Michigan wetland regulation at the state level or give authority back to the federal government. Wetland conservation has been put on the backburner in years past,” said Dakota Hewlett, M4-HYCC teen advisor and sophomore at Caledonia High School.
“The topic is especially timely since Senator Casperson, chairman of the Committee on Natural Resources, Environment and Great Lakes, will be introducing a new bill in the senate committee soon on wetland mitigation,” said Judy Ratkos, senior Michigan State University Extension program leader.
Each participant will present a portion of the group’s research and solutions. Grix said the goal of the day is to provide the opportunity for participants to give their perspective on environmental issues that should be resolved and influence public policy through their understanding of the issues and conclusions.
“I now have confidence in my ability to talk about important topics in front of important people,” Hodges said of her public speaking skills. In addition to meeting senators, participants met with various members from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), DTE Energy, Michigan State University Extension (MSUE), alternative energy resources, community members and more.
An MSUE program, M4-HYCC is sponsored this year by Michigan 4-H Foundation and Dow Chemical Company Foundation. M4-HYCC is available to all Michigan youths ages 13-19. For more information on M4-HYCC call 231-829-3421 or email email@example.com.