Thomas.Les
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Monday, April 21, 2014
 
 
   
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Thomas.Les
4-H Program Instructor, Alcona County

Growing up in rural northern Michigan, my options were limited as far as social, educational, and most importantly fun activities. Being from a non-agricultural setting that was poor, devoid of cultural opportunity and prone to juvenile mischief, something had to give. 4-H was a logical solution to many of the problems created by our geographical isolation. My parents, who were pioneers of the Alcona 4-H Advisory Council in the early 80's, sent me in the right direction with my first 4-H club (cooking and kitchen safety) when I was just 9 years old. The clubs over the years varied in interest from BMX to shooting sports, bird carving to golf and literally anything along the way. In my teens I was an active member, primarily in our Teen Club, going to Expo Days, Kettunen Center, and later becomming a Teen Leader in my dad's pottery and ceramics club. As a young adult, I took the reigns of my own teen club that focused on current adolescent issues, recreation and service. When the opportunity came to become more involved with 4-H, I jumped at it, though not really knowing what I was getting into.

My focus as a Program Associate has tended to mirror my own interests, stressing environmental education, outdoor recreation and cultural exploration. Though our program is continually growing, we've not lost sight of what built our county programs...volunteers leading youth in clubs.  Alcona 4-H offers clubs in Livestock areas, Fine Arts, Science, Community Service and Outdoor Adventure.  The sky is the limit!

A wonderful environmental/outdoor education and recreation program I was trained in recently was Project F.I.S.H.--take a look here: http://projectfish.org  FISH is all about getting adults trained to get kids excited about the outdoors (get them off the couch.)  Get a fishing pole in their hands, give them a positive experience and hopefully set the events in motion for them to someday come back and do the same.

Another focus in my career has been to promote MSU Extension through the use of news media. You can argue that this is something we all do, but I have tried to take it to the next level.  One of the things in Alcona County that made no sense to me was the fact that we were gathering once a year to celebrate achievement "on a stage with no audience."  After coming onto staff in March of 2000,  I decided it was time for a change.   On Memorial Day that year, I published the first annual installment of the 4-H Showcase.   It's been smooth sailing ever since... we have quadrupled the original content, colored the photos and hired a professional editor for layout.  Support for this piece has come from the local business community who purchase ads (sold by the 4-H Advisory Council) that appear on 1/4 of the total layout.  This tabliod is distributed throughout the county and surrounding area and is a wondderful tool that I can use year-round to promote my county 4-H program, Michigan 4-H and MSU Extension.

 

 

 



Email: thoma322@msu.edu
Phone Numbers: Work Phone: 989-724-6478
Fax: 989-724-5272
Work Address: 320 South State Street
Harrisville, Michigan
48740
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