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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Caring adults enable summer-long experiential learning

By Nancy Hegland

In June, kids say goodbye to the school year and are ready for summer vacation.  For many of them, this doesn’t mean a break from learning, but a chance to learn in different settings, with different teachers and mentors, and to direct their own learning to an extent. These lucky ones will learn all summer long, and may not even realize it.

In summer, and with the presence of a caring adult, their learning can change to be more experiential -- focused on experiencing, sharing, processing, generalizing, and applying what they have learned. Research has shown that youth learn best when doing. This is a basic concept in youth development programs.

Monday, July 17, 2017

The power of the camp counselor experience: Social-emotional learning at its best

By Nicole Pokorney

I recently had the privilege of working with 16 teen counselors for our 4-H regional camp. These youth applied for, were selected, and then trained to deliver high-quality youth programming and nurture younger campers. Their training introduced them to social emotional learning, specifically The Power of Empathy. They learned the difference between empathy and sympathy, and how to show genuine empathy toward campers.

The one-week camp was great, but the really amazing part was what happened after the campers had gone home. The teen counselors stayed one more night to clean up and reflect. What came through were the SEL skills that the counselors had gained.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Becoming a trauma-informed youth program

By Kyra Paitrick

"Sam" is an American Indian youth in one of the 4-H clubs that I help lead. He doesn't participate in every meeting, but has stayed involved for two years. Sam is a natural leader. He has great ideas and has helped the club plan and carry out a meaningful service project.

Sometimes, Sam comes in agitated and rambunctious, talking over others and derailing the meeting. Sam lives with his grandmother and younger sister. He has occasionally blurted out that his mother is in treatment and his dad died a couple years ago. Clearly, Sam is dealing with trauma. He is trying to cope with the loss of his father and separation from his mother.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

How to foster youth independence

By Jessica Pierson Russo

Thinking about this week's national holiday, it occurs to me how important it is for youth to develop a sense of independence and agency. An article that explores how youth develop agency says, "The challenging issue for how to support a developmental process in which youth are the central protagonists and agents of change." How can we build structures within youth programming that better support youth authoring their own lives?

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Tips on writing surveys for youth

By Betsy Olson

Collecting opinions from the youth in your program can be as easy as asking the right question. But in surveys, asking the right question can be tricky. The questions can be too complex, the responses can be mismatched or the vocabulary can be confusing.

Don't go through all the hard work of collecting survey data from a group of young people without ensuring the responses measure what you intend to measure and accurately reflect their experiences. Research into how young people respond to survey items is a topic that has gotten more attention as researchers and evaluators have begun to understand the value of collecting data directly from youth. Here are some tips:

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

To be an effective leader, think like a gardener

By Karyn Santl

At the recent National Extension Conference on Volunteerism, Jones Loflin gave a keynote speech in which he asked, "How will you grow it when you return home?" Jones speaks globally about innovative yet practical solutions to workplace challenges.

An author whose books include "Always Growing", Jones made me think about leadership and how to move change forward - even in small ways. He said, "To be an effective leader, think like a gardener." I'm not much of a gardener, but his message stuck with me.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Podcasting is a great teaching tool!

Do you listen to podcasts?  The number of people who do is exploding.

Last year Edison Research found that one in four Americans aged 12-54 had listened to a podcast within the last month.  And podcast listening grew 23% between 2015 and 2016. So the audience for podcasts is bigger than you think! To help provide context..the percentage of Americans who listen to podcasts is the same as those who use Twitter.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Safe spaces matter more than labels for LGBT youth

By Joseph Rand

In grad school, I often heard the term "queer" used to describe LGBT youth - without any negative connotation, just as a neutral term. I also have vivid memories from my younger days of being called queer as an insult.

So when this word is used to describe the community I belong to, it often often trips me up.  Furthermore, in my rural context, "queer" is not a term that has been effective or comfortable, compared with terms like LGBT, gay or lesbian.

What do all those acronyms and terms mean? How much do they matter?

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Make change with a cultural exchange

By Kathryn Sharpe

Do you want to create an exchange opportunity for youth that goes beyond a "tourist" experience? Or maybe you want to bring together diverse groups within your community for a meaningful encounter? The 4-H Cultural Exchange model provides an avenue to fulfill these goals.

Having facilitated multiple cross-cultural experiences with young people, I've seen the transformative potential, as well as the big challenges that they can bring. I've learned that it's critical to provide intentional preparation for these experiences so that the young people can dive beyond the surface level - where stereotypes can sometimes be reinforced - and get to the deeper conversations and help them dismantle stereotypes. How do we do that?

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Moving an experiential learning program online

By Ann Nordby

Next week I'll co-present at the National Urban Extension Conference about 4-H online adventures. It's a model we're developing for delivering hands-on experiential learning online.

The seemingly opposite ideas of "hands-on" and "online" are actually very compatible.
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