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Extension > Youth Development Insight

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

How to stay relevant

By Brian McNeill

When developing a lesson, event or program for youth, it can be hard to think about what will appeal to encourage youth to register and attend your program. Will it be the food, the activity, the time of day or the lesson that will really get their attention? Fireworks before, during and after? How can we compete for their time and attention?

Planning can be a real challenge and it can make a youth worker wonder, “Is my program is relevant to youth today?”

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

How to make sure your programs are equipped to reach youth who most need them

By Daniel Cooper

We are not adequately preparing all youth for future success. Nearly 20% percent of U.S. students do not graduate high school within four years. Of the 1.5 million students who took the ACT in 2009, only 23% were considered ready to enroll in college without support.

Educational disparities are another big issue. Black-White education gaps are about the same now as they were in 1965. Latinxs are 2x less likely to have a college degree than European-American students. There is a need for programs that support youth of all backgrounds to achieve their educational and career goals.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

What's the big deal with pronouns?

By Joseph Rand

The kids at school call me Rand. Not Mr. Rand. Just, Rand. With colleagues, I tend to go by Joseph or Joe. My family has given me nicknames like Joey, Joe-Joe, Josephine, Joe-Bo, and probably the most memorable, Jo-Jo the Dog-Faced Boy. At this point in my life I have racked up a lot of nicknames. And, as you can imagine, some evoke a stronger reaction than others.

Monday, February 5, 2018

The importance of being 'youth-centric in real life

Guest blogger Torie Weiston-Serdon will co-present our Feb. 19 youth work symposium, "Re-imagining youth work through an equity lens".

In the past year, I have traveled around the country speaking to organizations about critical mentoring. I'm passionate about youth work. I center much of my discussion in the concept of youth centrism, and it turns out to be the concept that people are most attracted to. While I'm elated at the fact that people want to center youth in their work, I'm not sure that people recognize the significance of this concept. Critical mentoring, and critical youth work in general, is rooted in a liberatory framework concerned with ensuring that the most marginalized youth have the opportunity and the tools required to "get free".

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Re-imagining youth work through an equity lens

By Kate Walker

The Extension Center for Youth Development's next public symposium series will focus on operationalizing equity in Minnesota's youth-serving organizations. In other words, making equity actionable. By equity, we mean promoting just and fair inclusion and creating conditions in which all young people can participate, prosper, and reach their full potential. For us, equity is everyone having what they need to be successful.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

When it comes to after-school programs, more is better

By Nancy Hegland

Recently I've been in a book study group with colleagues that has reminded me why extracurricular programs are critical for youth development.

GRIT: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth offers a lot of insight. One chapter says that extracurricular programs have positive effects on a student's life generally. When it comes to school, participating in extracurricular activities make them more likely to have better grades, higher self-esteem and less likely to have risky behaviors. In addition, the longer youth are involved in extracurricular programs and the more hours per week they spend in that activity, the better the outcomes.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Youth learning in nature - a mutually beneficial relationship

By Rebecca Meyer

In the last decade, a lot of attention has been paid to how young people benefit from connecting with nature. One of the main benefits is a sense of well being. A growing body of research demonstrates that exposure to natural spaces – everything from parks to open countryside to gardens and other greenspace – is good for health. What's less well known is that nature benefits from this connection, too.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

'I want to be a doctor' may not mean what you think

By Joanna Tzenis

"What do you want to be when you grow up?"

"Police officer!"
"Basketball player!"
"Scientist!"
"Teacher!"
"Musician!"
"Elsa!" (That was what my 3.5 year old told her preschool teacher when asked.)

It's a common question to ask youth. But what does the answer really mean?

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Can our programs foster societal change?

By Joshua Kukowski

I've had the privilege of teaching some sessions to some local youth program managers.  At the end of each session, many want to know if they are actually making a difference.  I always answer "yes", because they of course are! I tell them that their work is important and each of them is a key person in a young person's life. But it doesn't seem to resonate with them and I can't quite figure out why.  It may be because they want to make an impact beyond the individuals they serve.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The importance of imagination and play

By Brian McNeill

Taking a break from our technology-driven society has given me new opportunity to think about my growing up years. It was a time of very few school opportunities and of family financial struggles. It was also a time where I developed creativity and imagination.
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