After nearly 60 years of welcoming the Michigan 4-H community for place-based experiential learning, Kettunen Center in Tustin will permanently close July 1.
The Michigan 4-H Foundation board of trustees, owner and operator of Kettunen Center, has been exploring alternatives for use of the facility for several years, and the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the board’s decision-making process with a May 28 vote to close.
Kettunen Center, which opened in 1961 and was the first 4-H volunteer and youth training center in the nation, sits on 153 largely wooded acres encompassing Center Lake, only 20 minutes south of Cadillac. It had been used extensively for 4-H training and programming, but it also was used by other youth-serving organizations, state agencies, church groups, school groups, families and others.
Refunds are being issued to all groups who had scheduled events or activities at Kettunen Center, which closed in mid-March to maintain the health and safety of staff and guests. Alternate venue options for specific 4-H events and programming are being evaluated. The property will be offered for sale in the near future.
Michigan is not alone. Iowa’s 1,000-acre 4-H camp was put up for sale last fall.
“Please know this decision was not taken lightly,” says Sara (Sally) Stuby, Michigan 4-H Foundation president. “Many of us have been attendees at the Kettunen Center for many years, and we adore the facility and the memories made there. This fondness made it a very difficult decision for the board. However, decisions cannot be made on emotions. Ultimately, the Michigan 4-H Foundation board agreed selling the facility is in the best interest of the entire organization.”
Kettunen Center has affected the lives of thousands of 4-H families across the state. The facility hosts about 10,000 guests each year, including about 800 4-H participants. However, 4-H programming has evolved and changed, reducing the need for Michigan 4-H Foundation’s ownership of Kettunen Center, the board noted while pledging its continual commitment to supporting Michigan 4-H youth development.
“On behalf of the Michigan 4-H Foundation board of trustees and Kettunen Center staff members, I would like to thank the many groups who have continued to gather, learn and grow at Kettunen Center for nearly six decades,” Stuby says. “We especially thank 4-H volunteers, staff, donors and stakeholders for your longtime support and dedication to Kettunen Center.”