Isn’t 4H All About Farming and Animals?
Washtenaw County 4H and Microsoft Take on Teen Mental Health.

By Jane Pacheco, #Washtenaw4HTechChangemakers Coordinator

For over 100 years, 4H, the nation’s largest youth development organization, has had helped young people gain the skills needed to be proactive forces in their communities. Did you know that the 4H focus on citizenship has been integral to the leadership development mission for decades?

For over 60 years teens from all over the US have been traveling to the national 4H Conference Center in Washington, D.C. each summer for a “citizenship immersion program”. Last month, teens from Chelsea, Michigan participated in a joint program week sponsored by 4H and Microsoft called Citizenship Washington Focus (CWF). It was just one of many pieces that make up a joint partnership project that has these powerhouses working together to close the connectivity gap in rural areas by empowering teens to bring technology and digital skills access to their communities to address local issues.

Since 2017, the Washtenaw County team has been taking advantage of this important Microsoft/4H partnership to concentrate on youth mental health; specifically trying to raise student awareness and help educate teens about what they can do (for themselves and others).


The #WashtenawCountyTechChangemakers have been working with community stakeholders like the Chelsea School District, SRSLY/St. Joe Chelsea, the Chelsea Library and the new Youth Mental Health Community Collaborative. We’ve been a part of the Stigma/Education sub-committee of the new collaborative and intend to incorporate student representation into as much planning and policy as possible in our communities.

What we’ve been up to:
– Last December (2018) we offered a teen workshop training with a national peer counseling program called Natural Helpers and are planning another weekend training this Fall (2019).
– This October we will host a Teen Education/Awareness Event with Chelsea District Library and other community partners.
– Next year we are hoping to bring Teen Mental Health First Aid Training to our area.

We’ve been busy, but we need your help.

What you can do:
– Teens – We are looking for more Washtenaw County students to join our group this school year. Currently we are meeting twice a month in Chelsea but, with technology, timing and geography can be flexible. Teens are looking for peers to help with digital storytelling, social media, data collection, marketing, event planning, and creativity!!! Anyone is welcome age 14-18.
– Adults – Our teens could use help with some event logistics: can you donate small prizes, food, time, expertise? Do you have a special skill that could help us capture digital stories for our education and awareness campaign?

Join us for FREE Ice cream and to meet some of the current group members:
Info & Ice Cream Sundaes – Thursday, August 15 from 7:00 – 8:00 pm at Serendipity Books

For more information or to offer assistance: or contact Jane Pacheco, #Washtenaw4HTechChangemakers Coordinator, at