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Wednesday, May 16, 2018

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.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Gendered phrases make unsafe spaces

By Joseph Rand

graphic: 92% of lgbt youth say they hear negative messagesIt’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.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

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.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

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!

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

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.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Take care of your program and your professional self

By Trisha Sheehan

We've all heard that it's important to take care of ourselves. Often times we think of that from a personal perspective: We take care of our health. We take a vacation to relax and refresh ourselves. But do you take care of yourself professionally?

Professional development is a chance to enhance the skills of newer staff or those who are more experienced. For a youth worker, professional development can be training, education or support.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

How do program staff respond to culture-related incidents?

By Kate Walker

Program leaders regularly confront issues of culture and race in youth programs. I was part of a a research project that examined culture-related incidents and how leaders responded. Based on interviews with 50 leaders from 27 programs for middle and high school-aged teens, my colleagues identified four types of incidents and three ways that leaders responded. What they discovered has implications for our work toward equity.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

How to get to the top of the youth voice ladder

By Karen Beranek

Roger Hart's Ladder of Young People's ParticipationMany youth organizations boldly state “We listen to youth.”  But do they really?

Roger Hart’s Ladder of Participation work makes us think about the levels of youth voice that youth programs incorporate – from manipulation to tokenism and all the way up to sharing decisions equally.

How can we get to the top? Check out this resource. Along with some great activities to empower youth and adults to set the stage for youth voice, they outline some concepts for supporting it.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Applying engineering design to dog training

By Margo Bowerman

I've been doing a new type of training with my dog, Orri. Technically, the training activities help with impulse control (you’ll see it called ItsYerChoice or Doggie Zen), but I see it as a problem-solving activity.

Problem-solving activities for dogs allow them to make choices without feedback from the trainer until they make the right choice. Orri is pretty smart, so I was disappointed that as we progressed to more complicated tasks, he couldn’t figure it out. In fact, he stopped trying. As I reflected on that, it reminded me of my work with youth in the 4-H engineering design program. I wondered what I had learned from teaching problem-solving skills to youth that I could use with Orri. In other words, what are the critical elements necessary to teach problem solving?

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

How to stay relevant

By Brian McNeill

When developing a lesson, event or program for youth, it can be hard to think about what will appeal to encourage youth to register and attend your program. Will it be the food, the activity, the time of day or the lesson that will really get their attention? Fireworks before, during and after? How can we compete for their time and attention?

Planning can be a real challenge and it can make a youth worker wonder, “Is my program is relevant to youth today?”
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