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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Play and mentoring are a seriously good combination

By Joshua Kukowski

At the school my daughter will attend in a few years, recess is only 20 minutes long. I have fond school memories of conquering multiple snow hills during recess, and of wishing that I had more time for it. According to the National PTA, my school boy desire was a healthy one -- 20 minutes is not enough.

Today I am an educator working with multiple youth programs. Recently, while on a mentoring site visit with a partner organization, I witnessed two contrasting events:

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

What’s the connection between youth development and protest?

By Kathryn Sharpe

Photo: Maricruz Lozano
On Wed. Jan. 20, just two days after we commemorated Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy, hundreds of middle school and high school students in the Twin Cities took part in a walkout called, “Mi Familia No/Not My Family”. They were protesting recent raids and deportations by Immigration and Customs Enforcement targeting Central American migrants, many of them families with children who came to the U.S. fleeing violence in their home countries. The remarkable aspect of this protest was that it was initiated and planned entirely by high school students, and they mobilized youth from every background and experience, both those directly impacted by this issue and allies.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

One step at a time to intentional program design

By Nancy Hegland

“You don’t climb mountains without a team, you don’t climb mountains without being fit, you don’t climb mountains without being prepared and you don’t climb mountains without balancing the risks and rewards. And you never climb a mountain on accident – it has to be intentional”.  Mark Udall, former U.S. Senator from Colorado, now working with Outward Bound.

Turning the calendar to 2016 causes me to reflect on the past year and make efforts to do some things better and with more intentionality.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Mentoring young people to lead

By Brian McNeill

Mentoring from a caring adult can make a huge difference to a young person’s development as a future leader. The lucky ones among us can point to a time when a piano teacher, someone in church, neighbor or teacher took the trouble to give us guidance and pass along some leadership skills. These “relational role models” are critical to developing leadership skills, particularly during adolescence.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The 10 essential elements of cross-age teaching

By Amber Shanahan

For more than 30 years, Youth Teaching Youth has been a prime example of a cross-age teaching program. In cross-age teaching, teens are not just assisting an adult teacher or informally sharing experiences,but facilitating an entire learning experience by teaching curriculum and fully managing a group of younger peers. Cross-age teaching can also enhance social and emotional learning for both teacher and learner.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

SOAR -- don’t SWOT -- to reach a strategic decision

By Mark Haugen

How do you make your leadership decisions? There are almost as many decision-making methods as there are leadership styles.

Some organizations expect or allow decisions to be made exclusively by an individual or small group of leaders. Some leaders do a group SWOT analysis, where insights are gained by reviewing the Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities and Threats related to a needed decision.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Let’s talk about the first-generation experience

By Jessica Pierson Russo

Earlier this year, Extension Youth Development professionals from Minnesota and 11 other North Central states began to explore how to better invite and retain “first-generation 4-Hers.” This is especially important in light of racially-motivated violent events such as those that occurred within the past week in North Minneapolis. They are symptoms of a racial pathology that will continue to plague our country, as well as our youth programs, if we don’t do anything about it, and if we don’t talk about it.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Youth workers need to go out and play!

By Nicole Pokorney

Recently, while teaching a room full of youth workers, I was taken aback by a few early-career professionals who were struggling with why they were actually doing youth work. On the same day, I also met an older gentleman who was full of energy for working with youth after doing it for more than 30 years. What was the difference between them?  I believe it was passion and innovation.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

How do we support co-parenting in youth work?

By Sara Langworthy

A few weeks ago, I attended the Children, Youth and Family Consortium’s Lessons from the Field event on coparenting and divorce. Researchers James McHale Ph.D. and Kathryn Edin Ph.D. talked about their work with divorcing and never married families and ways to promote high quality parenting that benefits children and youth. Their talks raised questions for me about what we’re doing in our Extension programming to support youth and their families, especially when parents are parenting apart.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A ‘stone soup’ approach to programming can work pretty well

By Joshua Kukowski

The White Earth Science and Math Academy day camp has been going on since 1999 and has had measurable success in both outcomes and in process. This year’s camp had a lack of centralized funding, creating a need for multiple groups to work together to put it on. This stimulated each partner to really identify their strengths and contribute what they could.
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