Each year, the Minnesota 4-H State Ambassadors select a service theme to engage all Minnesota 4-H youth in learning about a community issue and taking steps to make a positive, collective impact. The theme is determined by input collected from youth at leadership conferences, 4-H staff across the state and the state ambassadors.
The statewide service theme for the 2022-2023 program year is “Branch Out and Go Green with Minnesota 4-H,” which encourages youth to perform service that has a positive impact on the environment. The state ambassadors have created 10 challenges for individual youth and/or youth groups to give back to their community and be eco-friendly.
Additionally, 4-H’ers are encouraged to think of other ways to make a positive impact on environmental issues and plan a project that meets their community needs. This service learning plan it out guide might help!
Tell us about your service!
Participating in the monthly challenges is optional, but highly encouraged to make the statewide effort.
Those participating in monthly challenges will be recognized.
Monthly challenge details
September’s challenge encourages you or your club to locate a nearby community park and help unclutter it.
Make sure that if the park is privately owned, you speak to its respective owner and request permission from them. If the park is a public site, please contact your local government agency for any necessary information.
It’s spooky season! October’s challenge is to construct and donate bat houses. Bat houses are an excellent alternative habitat for bats that do not have homes. Bats are essential to our environment through their work of pest control, seed dispersal and pollination.
Find more information on how to build a bat house.
After Halloween, thousands of pumpkins end up in landfills. To help prevent food waste, November’s challenge is to try composting your pumpkins after Halloween or making meals with them.
Pumpkins offer a great source of vitamins and minerals like vitamins A, C and potassium. This month, consider gathering unused pumpkins and donating them to a local farmer, composting service or in a compost bin at home.
December’s challenge is to get educated about fast fashion, its impact on the environment and how it can be lessened. Fast fashion is a growing issue and has become a significant polluter of the world.
The meaning of fast fashion stems from markets creating trendy and cheap clothes for consumers to buy when it's popular and then thrown to waste after a couple of wears. Many large companies contribute to fast fashion.
The industry uses toxic textile dyes and cheap textiles like polyester, which adds to global issues of clean water and global warming. You can help by supporting sustainable and ethical brands, buying fewer products, picking high-quality fabric and thrifting at local stores near you.
January's challenge is to focus on the importance of saving energy. Saving energy reduces power plant emissions, protects the ecosystems around us from being demolished and conserves natural resources.
There are many ways you can help save energy in your home and community, including:
- Turning off objects and unplugging them when not in use
- Ensuring the dishwasher is full before running a complete cycle
- Washing clothes in the washing machine with cold water
- Using LED light bulbs
Every year, millions of crayons are discarded in landfills by restaurants. Crayons containing wax are harmful to our environment because they have the chemical petroleum, which takes years to decompose in a landfill. The Crayon Initiative seeks to solve this problem by reconstructing the excess crayons and giving them to kids in hospitals.
For February's challenge, you can help by collecting unused crayons in your community and donating them to the Crayon Initiative. You can also drop off the collected crayons at our BLU event.
For March's challenge there will be a photo contest! To celebrate nature and inspire photographers across the state, we hope to provide this opportunity to share the unique images you’ve all captured. These images should photograph an environment in its natural habitat.
More details will be posted here when available.
In honor of Arbor Day, for April's challenge you are encouraged to plant trees in your community. Planting trees is a way to protect the earth’s natural resources. Trees are crucial to our sustenance because they give us oxygen to breathe, reduce the risk of natural disasters and erosions, and are a big part of the habitats for mammals and insects. There are many trees to choose from, but consider what would be best for the area.
In May, flowers have bloomed and are vibrantly showing their colors. Wildflowers are flowers that grow without support from humans and in their natural environment. Flowers produce oxygen, reduce stress and can help improve the moods of others.
For May’s challenge, youth are encouraged to plant wildflowers in their community. Some wildflowers planted in the garden are purple coneflower, purple milkweed, rough blazing star, maiden pink and more. It is also important to consider researching the native plants that are ideal in your region to allow them to grow without much attention, rather than non-native plants.
In June, we offer the opportunity to build garden boxes or raised garden beds. Garden boxes are enclosed with boxes filled with soil or heaped with a pile of soil. They are best for growing small vegetables or flowers. They benefit gardeners because they don’t involve tilling the soil, keep out tiny insects, have better drainage, fewer weeds and can be accessible for beginners.
The statewide service project aims to help achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and meet critical health, education, human service, human rights and environmental needs. This year’s topic specifically focuses on building awareness and inspiring service, advocacy, and philanthropy for the environment, specifically:
Find where service is happening near you!
- 2022-23 - Coming soon!
Reviewed in 2022