Full-time MSU 4-H coordinator focusing on expanding opportunities for area youth
Dan Sanderson | Staff Writer
Crawford County officials gave a boost in funding to the local Michigan State University (MSU) Extension Office to focus on strengthening youth and their families.
Angela Cook was hired to serve as the 4-H Program Coordinator for the Crawford County MSU Extension Office in September. The position went from part-time to full-time on Nov. 1 in hopes of enhancing services for youth and their families in the community.
Cook is from the suburbs of Chicago and moved to Roscommon from Bellaire over the summer.
She earned an associate’s degree in social work at Northwest Michigan College in Traverse City.
“It’s important work,” Cook said. “Strengthening youth and families is vital to community health.”
Prior to being hired to serve Crawford County, Cook was employed at Communities In Schools of Northwest Michigan based in Mancelona for five years. The mission of the organization is to surround students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life.
Cook spent four years as a program assistant. She then moved up to be a site coordinator and leader for an after-school program at the Mancelona Elementary School. In her last year with the organization, Cook served as a literacy coordinator.
Cook said it is fun and she enjoys working with youth.
“It’s never boring to work with kids,” she said. “It’s very fulfilling to know that you’re doing something positive in the lives of kids so that their futures have a brighter outlook.”
After assuming the full-time position in Crawford County, Cook said her top priority is to recruit volunteers to expand the number of programs 4-H provides.
“The number one thing that’s making a difference is that relationship with a caring adult,” Cook said.
Programs are offered to youth from ages 5 through 19.
Potential volunteers to lead a club can have an interest in the subject matter they would like to pass on to youth, which is supported by curriculum already available through 4-H.
“As long as there is an adult who can lead a group, there’s a lot of very detailed information on how to lead clubs and how each meeting can go,” Cook said.
As the 4-H coordinator, Cook will partner with schools within the Crawford AuSable School District to add to the health and nutrition and social and emotional classes already being offered by the MSU Extension.
Cook hopes to help with youth who go to the Devereaux Memorial Crawford County Library following the school day.
“It’s a great resource and place to be safe,” she said.
Cook also plans to partner with organizations to expand programs for youth outside of school hours and on the weekends.
“I would really love to see 4-H involved in some after-school programming,” she said.
A 4-H Explorers Cloverbud Spin program will begin on Tuesday, Jan. 8, as an introduction to 4-H. The eight-week course, which will be offered to 5 to 7-year-olds, will involve a variety of fun and hands-on experiences.
The focus of 4-H moving forward is on recruiting volunteer leaders to establish lasting relationships with youth in the community.
“That’s what’s going to make 4-H in the community,” Cook said.
To volunteer or for more information on programs, contact Cook at (989) 344-3264 ext. 206 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.