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Michigan 4-H Program of Distinction Celebrates National Mentoring Month at the White House

Media Contact: Jennifer Martin, (202) 720-8188

Jan. 21, 2009 – USDA’s 4-H National Headquarters celebrated National Mentoring Month at the White House this week along with the Michigan Youth 4-H Mentoring Program, which has been designated as a 4-H Program of Distinction.

Created by the Harvard School of Public Health and MENTOR, National Mentoring Month is marking its ninth year in 2010. By focusing national attention on the need for mentors, as well as how —individuals, businesses, government agencies, schools, faith communities and nonprofits can work together to increase the number of mentors, we assure brighter futures for our young people. More information can be found online at

The Michigan 4-H Youth Mentoring program was selected for its broad approach to mentoring and its effective use of planned youth mentoring as a delivery vehicle for 4-H positive youth development outcomes in more than 30 counties.

We’re so excited that Michigan 4-H has been invited to the White House to celebrate National Mentor Month,” said extension specialist Lisa Bottomley. “We’re thrilled to be recognized for all the hard work that the staff, volunteers and youth have been doing over the years.”

Michigan State University Extension sent mentor Andrew Knight and mentee Ryan Brott, 14, and Ryan’s mother, to visit the White House. Bottomley and Ottawa County 4-H mentoring coordinator Laura Schleede will also be going to Washington, D.C.  Video from the event is available on the White House Web site.

Ryan Brott and Andrew Knight were matched through the Journey 4-H Youth Mentoring program nearly one year ago.  Ryan, age 14, lives in Holland, Mich., with his mother and siblings.  He is in 8th grade at Holland High School.   Andrew, age 25, lives in West Olive, Mich., and is a student at Grand Valley State University.  Ryan was referred to Journey 4-H when he was struggling in school and had made some poor choices.  He lacked a positive adult male role model.  Andrew learned about Journey 4-H when he heard a presentation in his criminal justice class. Andrew and Ryan were matched because they both have a passion for sports and the outdoors.  They have participated in a variety of program opportunities including the Outdoor Challenge, an initiative designed to expose youth to positive outdoor activities.  Since they were matched last February, Ryan has improved his grades -- he almost made the honor roll this past semester.

As part of USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), 4-H National Headquarters seeks to promote positive youth development, facilitate learning and engage youth in the work of the land-grant universities and USDA to enhance their quality of life.  4-H Programs of Distinction is a recognition program that highlights high quality youth development programs within Cooperative Extension occurring in communities across the United States. These programs exhibit strong program development characteristics and contribute to the field; convey new ideas, materials or innovative methods; and demonstrate changes in knowledge, behaviors, attitudes or aspirations of youth and adults.  More information is available at

Through federal funding and leadership for research, education and extension programs, NIFA focuses on investing in science and solving critical issues impacting people's daily lives and the nation's future. For more information, visit


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