New 4-H teen leadership program seeks to increase civic engagement

University of Maine Cooperative Extension 4-H is accepting applications for a new civic engagement program called Youth Have a Voice. 

This nine-month program is open to all Maine teens and recent high school graduates who are interested in taking a more active role in serving their local communities, the state or the country. Participants will learn leadership skills and ways to take part in civic action by completing a service project in a topic of their interest in one of three categories: board member, policy leader or public service leader.

Youth board members will serve on a board, committee or advisory council where they will learn about public boards, the issues they address and how to effectively participate. Policy leaders will learn about the impact of a local, state or national policy and write a response or opinion about it. Public service leaders will learn about community needs and how to follow a strategy while coordinating a service project.

Teens will be mentored by adults to assist their understanding of civic processes and ways to meet their project goals. The program will run from September 2023 to May 2024, and the total time commitment may vary from 30–80 hours depending on the type of project.

Teens 14–19 years old or entering high school in fall 2023 can register for the program by completing a non-competitive application available on the program webpage. The information will be used to match teens with the resources they need to complete the program. A three-credit Early College course in leadership development at UMaine may also be available for interested students.

Registration is open until July 31. The program will be limited to 16 youth. For more information or to request reasonable accommodation, please contact Andrew Hudacs,; 207.581.8204.