University of Minnesota Extension
www.extension.umn.edu
612-624-1222
Menu Menu

Extension > Youth Development Insight > 2017

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

How to connect with young people through books

By Samantha Grant

Years ago, I worked in a youth program with a group of young people who kept me at arm’s length. Accustomed to a constant turnover of staff, they didn't want to get close. One day, a girl in the group came in bubbling about a book. Luckily, it was the latest Twilight novel, which I had just finished reading. We had a deep conversation about the merits of being Team Edward or Team Jacob, and this opened up a connection in our group.

As a youth worker, you can build connections with youth through books. Here are some ways to do that.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Caring adults enable summer-long experiential learning

By Nancy Hegland

In June, kids say goodbye to the school year and are ready for summer vacation.  For many of them, this doesn't mean a break from learning, but a chance to learn in different settings, with different teachers and mentors, and to direct their own learning to an extent. These lucky ones will learn all summer long, and may not even realize it.

In summer, and with the presence of a caring adult, their learning can change to be more experiential -- focused on experiencing, sharing, processing, generalizing, and applying what they have learned. Research has shown that youth learn best when doing. This is a basic concept in youth development programs.

Monday, July 17, 2017

The power of the camp counselor experience: Social-emotional learning at its best

By Nicole Pokorney

I recently had the privilege of working with 16 teen counselors for our 4-H regional camp. These youth applied for, were selected, and then trained to deliver high-quality youth programming and nurture younger campers. Their training introduced them to social emotional learning, specifically The Power of Empathy. They learned the difference between empathy and sympathy, and how to show genuine empathy toward campers.

The one-week camp was great, but the really amazing part was what happened after the campers had gone home. The teen counselors stayed one more night to clean up and reflect. What came through were the SEL skills that the counselors had gained.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Becoming a trauma-informed youth program

By Kyra Paitrick

"Sam" is an American Indian youth in one of the 4-H clubs that I help lead. He doesn't participate in every meeting, but has stayed involved for two years. Sam is a natural leader. He has great ideas and has helped the club plan and carry out a meaningful service project.

Sometimes, Sam comes in agitated and rambunctious, talking over others and derailing the meeting. Sam lives with his grandmother and younger sister. He has occasionally blurted out that his mother is in treatment and his dad died a couple years ago. Clearly, Sam is dealing with trauma. He is trying to cope with the loss of his father and separation from his mother.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

How to foster youth independence

By Jessica Pierson Russo

Thinking about this week's national holiday, it occurs to me how important it is for youth to develop a sense of independence and agency. An article that explores how youth develop agency says, "The challenging issue for practitioners...is how to support a developmental process in which youth are the central protagonists and agents of change." How can we build structures within youth programming that better support youth authoring their own lives?

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Tips on writing surveys for youth

By Betsy Olson

Collecting opinions from the youth in your program can be as easy as asking the right question. But in surveys, asking the right question can be tricky. The questions can be too complex, the responses can be mismatched or the vocabulary can be confusing.

Don't go through all the hard work of collecting survey data from a group of young people without ensuring the responses measure what you intend to measure and accurately reflect their experiences. Research into how young people respond to survey items is a topic that has gotten more attention as researchers and evaluators have begun to understand the value of collecting data directly from youth. Here are some tips:

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

To be an effective leader, think like a gardener

By Karyn Santl

At the recent National Extension Conference on Volunteerism, Jones Loflin gave a keynote speech in which he asked, "How will you grow it when you return home?" Jones speaks globally about innovative yet practical solutions to workplace challenges.

An author whose books include "Always Growing", Jones made me think about leadership and how to move change forward - even in small ways. He said, "To be an effective leader, think like a gardener." I'm not much of a gardener, but his message stuck with me.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Podcasting is a great teaching tool!


Do you listen to podcasts?  The number of people who do is exploding.

Last year Edison Research found that one in four Americans aged 12-54 had listened to a podcast within the last month.  And podcast listening grew 23% between 2015 and 2016. So the audience for podcasts is bigger than you think! To help provide context..the percentage of Americans who listen to podcasts is the same as those who use Twitter.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Safe spaces matter more than labels for LGBT youth

By Joseph Rand

In grad school, I often heard the term "queer" used to describe LGBT youth - without any negative connotation, just as a neutral term. I also have vivid memories from my younger days of being called queer as an insult.

So when this word is used to describe the community I belong to, it often often trips me up.  Furthermore, in my rural context, "queer" is not a term that has been effective or comfortable, compared with terms like LGBT, gay or lesbian.

What do all those acronyms and terms mean? How much do they matter?

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Make change with a cultural exchange

By Kathryn Sharpe

Do you want to create an exchange opportunity for youth that goes beyond a "tourist" experience? Or maybe you want to bring together diverse groups within your community for a meaningful encounter? The 4-H Cultural Exchange model provides an avenue to fulfill these goals.

Having facilitated multiple cross-cultural experiences with young people, I've seen the transformative potential, as well as the big challenges that they can bring. I've learned that it's critical to provide intentional preparation for these experiences so that the young people can dive beyond the surface level - where stereotypes can sometimes be reinforced - and get to the deeper conversations and help them dismantle stereotypes. How do we do that?

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Moving an experiential learning program online

By Ann Nordby

Next week I'll co-present at the National Urban Extension Conference about 4-H online adventures. It's a model we're developing for delivering hands-on experiential learning online.

The seemingly opposite ideas of "hands-on" and "online" are actually very compatible.

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 Joseph 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.

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.
  • © Regents of the University of Minnesota. All rights reserved.
  • The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer. Privacy