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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, November 4, 2015

Equipping our youth with SEL skills: Local snapshots and strategies

By Kate Walker

Our public symposium series is an opportunity to invite national experts to share the latest developments and discuss cutting-edge issues in the field of youth development. But there is plenty to learn from our own local scholars and practitioners as well. At our upcoming symposium on Nov. 24, researchers will share data on how Minnesota youth are doing on a set of social and emotional learning (SEL) indicators and a panel of practitioners will share some promising programs and strategies from right here at home.

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.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Me, biased? Implicit bias in youth work

By Kathryn Sharpe

What do these situations have in common: a youth worker addressing challenging behavior, a judge deciding on ribbons at the state fair and a hiring committee interviewing candidates? Answer: In each of these situations, people are making decisions based on both conscious and unconscious factors. Neurosocial research is revealing that human beings are influenced constantly by both positive and negative subconscious associations about others, based on characteristics such as race, gender, age, weight, accents and many other aspects of our identity. This phenomenon is known as implicit bias and has significant implications in our behavior and judgments.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Responsible decision making, a social and emotional skill

By Carrie Ann Olson

Bombarded by advertisements of what to buy, media messages of how to look and peer pressure of what to do, responsible decision making can be tough stuff. Every day, youth are tasked with promoting their own health, avoiding risky behaviors and dealing honestly and fairly with others. That’s decision making – a social and emotional skill.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Negotiate to reach your program goals

By Amber Shanahan 

You may cringe when you think about negotiating, but I’m here to tell you that negotiation does not have to inherently apply to conflict or uncomfortable conversations. Negotiation is a powerful tool that can be used to ensure you’re utilizing all of your constituent’s assets to their full potential to best support the youth you serve.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Youth voice -- how much and when?

By Betsy Olson and Mark Haugen

Each fall, leaders of youth organizations reflect on their successes, celebrate with award ceremonies and begin planning for next year. Injecting youth voice into your annual program planning and goal-setting process is critical as it increases the relevance of those goals or plans. Providing space and time for youth voice also works to engage young people. Once engaged, they are more successful at accomplishing goals and following through on plans.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Finding the sweet spot between volunteer time and program need

As youth development professionals, we work hard to engage adult volunteers in meaningful long-term relationships with young people. Research, particularly from the field of youth mentoring, indicates that youth whose relationship with an adult mentor lasts at least a year have more positive outcomes than those lasting less than a year. Anecdotally, we hear youth in the 4-H program share how their 4-H club leader has been an ongoing source of support for several years as they developed life skills and grew into adulthood.
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