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Wurm lives and breathes 4-H

The 4-H pledge is: I pledge my head to clearer thinking, my heart to greater loyalty, my hands to larger service, and my health to better living, for my club, my community, my country and my world.

ROSCOMMON – Some say, to do the best job in your chosen career, you should love what you do. John Wurm, Roscommon County 4-H Extension Program Coordinator, exemplifies that idea. He believes that “work has to be fun” and he looks forward to coming to work every day.

Originally born out of “Corn Clubs” during the late 1800’s to early 1900’s, 4-H was established to “help make public school education, more connected to country life.” Over time, there have been many changes to the program including the addition of organizational skills, record keeping, and public speaking, among others. 

John grew up in Kingsley in Grand Traverse County. His love for 4-H manifested itself at an early age. As soon as he was old enough to get involved, he participated in 4-H Projects; 4-H County Camps; traveling and learning for eight months in Australia, with International 4-H for Youth (IFY); 4-H Exploration Days; served as a camp counselor.

“If it was 4-H, I was there!” he said.

When the fair moved from downtown Traverse City, John was one of the first people at the “new” County Fairgrounds in Blair Township.

Following graduation from high school, John attended Northwestern Community College. He completed his education at Western Michigan University, graduating with an education degree in December 1984. He first began working for Michigan State 4-H Extension in 1986, working in Charlevoix, Jackson, and Caro until 2000.

John loves and supports his volunteers. His “favorite” volunteer was in Caro, a young woman named Christine. Christine was “just always there helping.” In December of 1990, Christine became John’s lifelong “volunteer,” when they married. John and Christine have five children and four grandchildren. 

The couple moved to Kansas in 1999 and John began his teaching career. He has taught eighth, fifth and third grades.

While living in Kansas, the family began summering in Michigan. They would spend time going on mystery trips, and once, while staying in Petoskey, they did their “mystery trip to the Houghton Lake area. John, Christine and their family fell in love with the area and first rented a vacation home there. They purchased their current home in 2016. While visiting in 2018, Christine saw an ad for Roscommon County 4-H County Program Coordinator NS encouraged him to apply.

John Wurm
Roscommon County 4-H Director John Wurm

Under his leadership, the Roscommon 4-H program has begun to change and grow. Most people believe that 4-H is just geared toward animals and agriculture. However, leadership skills, interacting with others, life skills, art, photography and work ethic comprise a much larger part of the program. John would encourage anyone who would like to volunteer to mentor, teach a short course or Spin class, to contact the office. 

John believes in volunteer activation. He feels that encouraging, activating, and supporting volunteers works best in helping programs grow. In the three years John has been at the helm, a county wide 4-H Club has formed, there is a county 4-H Council, and new and developing community and Spin clubs, as well as horse and other subject specific clubs. He is quick to acknowledge that it’s the work of volunteers, that has made this all happen. 

Roscommon 4-H’ers are currently raising funds to travel with the Interstate Exchange Club. Several of our local youth will travel to Idaho to live with a family for a week in 2022. In exchange, Roscommon will host youth from Idaho in 2023. Youth and volunteers have raised approximately $3,000 in six months toward the trip, through pop can collections, car washes and donations

In addition to the 4-H program, John also is charged with some aspects of the statewide Master Gardener program, of which there are over 3,000 members. 

John said he and Christine enjoy spending time together and with family. They love travel and euchre. When they married, they had aspirations of lots of travel, including overseas. That has been on more of a back burner for now, but euchre, any time.

When asked what vision he has for the future, John said, “I want to look back at 4-H in Roscommon County in five years and see that it’s grounded and sustainable.” 

He also looks forward to the time he and Christine can fulfill their travel dreams. For now, he’s having fun and loving his job!

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