Teen active in 4-H programs shines in environmental education role

MARQUETTE — Marquette County has a notable 4-H teen environmental and outdoor education science leader in Hannah Peterson. As a younger 4-H member, Peterson had amazing experiences at the Upper Peninsula 4-H Camp. Ever since, Peterson and her family have been big supporters of the program, working to promote the program and recruit new campers every year.

She believes in it so much that she not only wanted to be a junior counselor, she got certified as a 4-H archery instructor to strengthen the program this past summer.

Peterson generally has a quiet demeanor and notices the younger members who tend to be on the shy side and works to make them feel at ease. This characteristic and her passion for the outdoors made Peterson a valuable asset to the Upper Peninsula 4-H Camp program this past summer.

Peterson has been a member of the Upper Peninsula Riders 4-H Club for five years, Upper Peninsula Challenge Seekers 4-H Club for eight years and Lake Superior 4-H Club for one year, with a total membership of 12 years.

“Hannah has such a positive attitude and is always willing to step in and lend a hand,” club leader Kim Frost said of Peterson. “She is so comfortable in the outdoors and is always looking for a new challenge. We are so fortunate to have Hannah in our program.”

Peterson is being nominated for the 4-H Shooting Sports and Outdoor Recreation Awards at the county level for the 2016-17 4-H year. She has been nominated for a Rotary Youth Leadership Award and has also participated in a trip to Isle Royale to learn about invasive species.

Peterson spends a lot of time serving her community. She is a dog handler for the U.P. 200 Sled Dog Race, and is a horseback rider and has spent many years mentoring younger riders. She volunteered at the 2016 Kraft Hockeyville USA event in Marquette, the ForCory Rail Jam at Marquette Mountain and the Relay for Life.

Peterson also volunteers with the Superior Alliance for Independent Living on a gardening project with physically challenged clients.

Peterson has also found the time to help plan and implement challenge trips for the Upper Peninsula Challenge Seekers 4-H Club. She was a 4-H camper for three years, a junior counselor for three years and a 4-H Exploration Days delegate for five years, and became a 4-H certified archery instructor in April 2017.

Peterson is planning to attend Northern Michigan University in the fall of 2018 to major in wildlife biology.

Marquette County 4-H program coordinator Liana Graves believes Peterson is a true environmental and outdoor science teen leader.

“Hannah has been excited about the 4-H program since she joined,” Graves said. “She loves the outdoors and 4-H has allowed her opportunities to explore new avenues. Hannah especially enjoys learning about the environment and the importance of being a good steward through her Outdoor Adventure Challenge 4-H Club.

“She uses her knowledge and passion to help the environment and currently has an internship with the (Michigan Department of Natural Resources) in Marquette. Hannah is job-shadowing multiple staff and participating in biology projects like duck banding, the moose survey, bear den checks for the predator-prey project and planting wild rice. She is also an avid fisherwoman and a successful hunter.”

Graves also offered advice for other youth interested in becoming a 4-H teen leader.

“There are so many ways to lead and everyone has the capacity to be a leader,” Graves said. “Even if you don’t feel comfortable up in front, speaking to crowds or leading a club meeting, you are still an important part of your club. Your skills are needed, no matter what they may be. Talk to your club leader or your 4-H program coordinator to find out needs within your program and think of how your strengths can help fill those gaps. That is what Hannah did when she became a certified 4-H archery instructor.”

Graves also suggested service as a form of leadership.

“You may be raking leaves for the elderly on Make a Difference Day or planning a fundraiser to support your local homeless shelter,” Graves said. “It is behind the scenes, but it is still very much leadership.”

For information about 4-H learning opportunities and other 4-H programs, contact the Marquette County office of MSU extension at 906-475-5731 or msue.marquette@county.msu.edu. The office is located at 184 U.S. 41 East in Negaunee.