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Don’t compete. Connect.

By Joshua Kukowski

Recently, my daughter asked me to run in a local 5K. I asked her why she wanted to do this and she said “I want a medal.” While I was enthused at this new physical challenge with her, I was also concerned as to her reason for doing it.

Vince Lombardi said that “winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” Alfie Kohn describes that one can easily see how childhood is filled with this competitive mindset of winners and losers. College scholarships, beauty contests, one-act play competitions, purple ribbons at county and state fairs, state sports tournaments and college admissions are a few that come to mind and there are many more. Each of these has clearly defined winners and losers.
Recent posts

How to turn volunteers into stewards

By Nicole Pokorney

Volunteers are vital for non-profit organizations. Staff need be able to optimize the use of volunteers to maximize their efforts to spread the work and their impact. Traditionally, staff guide the work and vision of an organization. But for true transformation, staff and volunteers must move the mission forward together.
To do that, staff and volunteers must share the vision, along with the energy and passion to transform the volunteers into engaged stewards. The result is enabled volunteers who are equipped to guide youth programs and make fundamental shifts to meet the organization’s evolving needs.

Fear of frying: Why are youth shy to be creative in the kitchen?

By Carrie Ann Olson

Cooking is healthy, so why are Americans cooking less than they used to? Maybe it’s because they are afraid to try.

For me, mixing things together to come up with something new is exciting and rewarding. But my daughter recently told me that her junior high family consumer science classmates are afraid to try cooking because it might not turn out perfect. This is a common fear for adolescents. But a youth development program should help them to develop good decision making skills.

Gendered phrases make unsafe spaces

By Joseph Rand

It’s nice to say you’re an ally to marginalized groups, but what actions are you taking to create change? “Ally” is a verb, and requires action. So if you want to be an ally for youth, you have to speak up!

I was reminded of this by a speaker at the Ohio 4-H LGBTQ+ Summit recently. How are you making marginalized groups like LGBTQ+ youth and families feel included? One simple way is through inclusive language.

Take action with action learning

By Amber Shanahan

If you could have 14 colleagues working alongside you to help you meet your goals, that would be pretty great, right? And what if they were helping you to solve the most important issues in your field? That would be greater still, right?

Fifteen Minnesota 4-H program coordinators did just that in a recently completed Youth Development Learn and Lead (YDLL) cohort. They networked, worked as a team, and shared positive youth development research and best practices. Over the eight-month period, they took part in an Action Learning Project (ALP), a practical assignment to solve issues, create support or improve programs. In ALP, participants identify a topic or concern relevant to their community and work in small groups to share progress, reflect and gain perspective.

I don't love camping but I love 4-H camp

By Karyn Santl

I'm not an outdoors person. I don't like bugs. I don't like the heat. I'm not really into outdoors stuff. But I LOVE 4-H camp and the magic that happens when teens use their leadership skills to deliver the camp program!

For more than 20 years, I have been coordinating an overnight 4-H camp for grades 3-6, as well as day camps. My goal for the campers is that they are safe, have fun, make new friends and want to come back the following year. What motivates me to coordinate camps? It's the magic that happens when teenagers become camp counselors!

Bad data viz can have bad consequences

By Samantha Grant

Good data visualization matters. I think about, blog about and train others on ways to improve the way that we share our evaluation findings.

Recently, I had personal evidence of how good data visualization matters. My daughter came home from school upset because she scored "urgent intervention" on a standardized math test. I initially didn't believe her because she's a strong student, even though she would rather have her nose in a book than solve multiplication problems. We went through all of the reasons that her score could have been low-- from a bad test-taking day to the test covering topics that weren't discussed in class.