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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

How to shatter the stereotypes that hold back Somali youth

By Joanna Tzenis

Before you read this, type “Somali youth Minnesota” into your Google search engine. Take a look at the stories that populate and see if you see a pattern.

Did you do it?  What did you notice? What did you learn?

I’m not trying to direct you to other sources of information about the Minnesota’s biggest immigrant group. Instead, I want to draw your attention to an issue hindering the positive development of Somali American youth in Minnesota.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

How to guide parents considering summer camp for their child

By Brian McNeill

Summer is approaching and families are thinking about summer camp. Camps can be a great experience for children and come in a variety of formats. Let’s talk about how you can promote age-appropriate camp experiences when parents ask, “Is my child ready for camp? How might she benefit from it?

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Try an engineering design approach to program planning

By Margo Bowerman

Let’s be honest – program planning is hard work. Program planning tools help, but they can be downright overwhelming to use!

There are as many ways to do program planning as there are programs. In Cooperative Extension organizations around the country, the logic model is a well used and vetted system. The University of Wisconsin has excellent resources for how to use logic models in program planning. Public health organizations offer some excellent models – the Centers for Disease Control and the Rand Corporation have some great resources. And all these models vary in the number of steps they include and how they are described.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Top 10 things you need to know about the Journal of Youth Development

By Kate Walker

I am the new editor of the Journal of Youth Development (JYD) which is dedicated to advancing youth development practice and research.  JYD serves applied researchers and evaluators as well as practitioners who work in youth-serving organizations or the intermediaries that support them.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Learners take control online

By Ann Nordby

Anyone who has been around teenagers in the last five years knows that they are constantly online. 91% of them use smart phones daily. These devices are like extensions of their bodies. How should youth workers respond? Your impulse might be to ask youth to put their devices away to avoid distraction but what if you harnessed them as learning tools?

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

For LGBT youth, safe spaces can be hard to find

By Joe Rand

About two years ago, students at Becker High School in rural Minnesota created a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA). These students wanted a space where they could be themselves, connect and feel safe in a town where they often feel they don't fit in and can't express their true identities. For adolescents, access to safe spaces is a crucial part of development and exploring self-identity. For youth programs, this is a fundamental concern.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Practical ways to connect children to nature

By Cathy Jordan

More and more parents, health care providers, and educators, in both formal and informal settings, are recognizing the value of connecting children to nature. It's good for their physical and mental health and academic success.  It's also good for the planet - children with meaningful, frequent nature-based experiences develop attachments to nature that lead to a desire to take care of the environment.

The question is: How can we best provide these nature-based experiences? The answer depends on the age of the child and the benefits you desire.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Should we measure social and emotional learning skills?

By Samantha Grant

My oldest child is in a classroom that gives students points for good deeds done throughout the day. My guess is that the teacher is trying to encourage social and emotional learning (SEL) skills. Every day I check in to see how my child did, and every day I think about how this would have gone for me. I was the kid in class who could never stop talking, so my daily points for "works quietly" and "on task" would have been abysmal. I wanted to talk- and was willing to talk about learning or my new shoes or what we were going to do at recess- the topic didn't matter. It did matter that learning for me was a social activity.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Social and Emotional Learning in Practice: A Toolkit of Practical Strategies and Resources

By Kate Walker

For several years now, our center has been digging into social and emotional learning (SEL). We've studied it, hosted a series of public symposia about it, and developed trainings to support it. Now I am delighted to announce a free online resource to help practitioners bolster SEL into their programs.

This toolkit is a flexible set of practical tools, templates and activities that can be used with staff and youth to increase intentional practices that support social and emotional learning.

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.
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