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Thursday, January 19, 2017

What does it mean to make a difference?

By Karyn Santl

Like me, you probably decided back in college that you wanted to make a difference in the lives of young people. I've been fortunate to work in the field of nonformal education for the past 20-plus years (and have three daughters), so I've thought a lot about this mission. And the way to make a difference in the lives of youth is pretty well defined.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

We can prepare youth for college, but not in the way you think

By Joanna Tzenis

“College prep” programs that stoke youth college aspirations and scholarship programs to make college affordable are great, but they're not enough. They leave out something important -- the young person herself!

As I've written about previously, laudable efforts to instill in youth the desire to go to college and the hard skills to qualify do help.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

For personal sustainability, mind your relationships

By Nicole Pokorney

Last week I was reminded of the importance of just sitting down and talking with another person for the sake of honest, open discussion and networking.  I sit on a national committee with staff from all over the country, from Hawaii to Vermont. We come together once a year face to face and while we have two full days of business to tend to, we also take intentional time to go out to dinner and talk without an agenda. It's not an option - it's essential.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Make meetings meaningful

By Brian McNeill

Meetings can be important and useful, or they can be a waste of time. How many of us have sat in a meeting and thought, "Is this meeting ever going to start?" or worse, "Is this meeting ever going to end?"

The typical American professional attends more than 60 meetings per month, and about half of that time is wasted.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

What does it mean to be a youth development professional?

By Margo Bowerman

I've been a youth development professional for 17 years now. And it is not just because I get paid to do this work that I proudly claim the title of a professional.

How do you define "professional?" There are all sorts of professionals in society: youth development professionals, professional football players, professional politicians, and professional ecologists, among countless others.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Choir singing is good for your health. Yes, really.

By Sara Langworthy

I've been a singer as long as I can remember. As a kid, I used to sing solos at church but was too scared to speak to strangers who complimented me on my voice. Ahh introversion! But as I grew, my love for music grew with me. From middle school on, I was pretty solidly a "choir kid." There's something deeply soul-filling and rich about joining my voice with others that's hard to describe.

Simply put: singing together connects me with others in a way that nothing else can. And as it turns out, the data bear out this belief.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

How to foster youth empathy

Lots of recent events have me wondering how to encourage and foster empathy. Empathy is when one person is able to understand how another person is feeling. This sense of understanding is not something we are born with, it is a skill that we learn. The ability to empathize is critical because it allows us to understand other people. It's an opportunity to show caring and compassion; one of the 5 C's of positive youth development. And, it's an essential skill for creating an inclusive world.

We as youth workers have an important role play. We can facilitate strategies to develop and nurture empathy in young people. Embedded in hands-on experiential learning processes, the following strategies can help support development of empathy in youth:

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Developing a love for learning

By Jessica Pierson Russo

We want so many things for our young people—confidence, a sense of hope, a successful future. But perhaps the greatest gift we can give them is a love for learning. A love for learning drives us to continually strive for understanding and can nurture a sense of hope and confidence as we arm ourselves with new knowledge that in turn can ensure a more successful future.

A love of learning probably won’t solve all problems. But it can have a deep impact on youth. What is that impact? And how do we instill such a sense of satisfaction in learning that young people crave more?

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Minnesota is home to one of the world's largest Somali diaspora populations

By Jennifer Skuza

Minnesota has the nation's largest Somali American community, with census numbers placing the population at about 57,000, followed by Columbus (Ohio), San Diego, Seattle and Atlanta. Kenya hosts the largest number of Somali migrants (both refugees and nonrefugees) of any other country, according to UN estimates.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Transgender youth: Breaking down the challenges

By Judy Myers, Extension Educator — Children, Youth & Family ConsortiumExtension Center for Family Development

This post first appeared in Family Matters, the newsletter of the University of Minnesota Extension Center for Family Development.

Imagine that you are an adolescent who feels unsafe everywhere you turn — at home, at school, and in your community. This is the situation for many transgender youth who are at higher risks for homelessness, abuse, sexually transmitted diseases, and suicide than other gender nonconforming young people.


What are the physical and mental health risks that transgender youth confront and how “big” of an issue is this?

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