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Michigan 4-H program attends women's basketball game

January 16, 2012

Although the MSU women’s basketball team failed to overcome No. 11 Ohio State, losing 64-56 Sunday at Breslin Center, some special guests still were excited to provide support.

Students, parents and volunteers from Michigan’s 4-H program cheered on the women’s basketball team Sunday as part of the MSU Extension 4-H Day with the Lady Spartans.

4-H is a national youth development organization that provides participating children with programs and activities meant to educate them and promote development through science and citizenship, according to their website.

Pregame activities for participants included booths looped around the outside of the stadium featuring information on various programs, free handouts and photo opportunities with Sparty. A number of 4-H participants also led the crowd in reciting the 4-H pledge during halftime.

The event, which brought about 6,000 people in connection to the 4-H program to Breslin Center, allowed 4-H participants to partake in fun activities and gave other spectators of the game the chance to see what the program is about, MSU Extension Communications Manager Michelle Lavra said.

“It really is about showing how 4-H steps up to face difficult challenges in communities (across the state),” Lavra said.

The annual basketball game isn’t the only way 4-H and MSU Extension involves 4-H participants with MSU, MSU Extension Program Leader Judy Ratkos said.

Precollege programs such as 4-H Exploration Days, which take elementary and high school students through MSU’s campus during the summer, and annual visits to the Capitol and wildlife camps give 4-H participants the opportunity to explore topics of interest in various fields as well as get a feel for the benefits of higher education, Ratkos said.

“It gives them a chance to play mini college student,” she said. “We would love to see them inspired to come to MSU or another university because of these and other programs.”

Olivia Roedel, a high school freshman in Fowlerville, Mich., has been a member of her 4-H for several years and was crowned the 4-H queen of 2011.

Roedel said she has loved being a member of 4-H and was excited to see the Lady Spartans play Sunday, regardless of whether they won or lost. Meeting new friends from 4-H programs throughout the state is also a plus, she said of events like the basketball game.

“You meet a lot of new people through these events and activities,” Roedel said. “I love it.”

Lavra said giving those already in 4-H and those attending the women’s basketball game the chance to see the scope of what 4-H has to offer helps bring the organization out of its former farming stereotype.

“A lot of people think 4-H is just cows and cooking, and it’s really a lot more than that,” Lavra said. “It allows us to show the message of what 4-H is to a broader audience.”

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