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Extension > Youth Development Insight

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

3 ways to help your volunteers and program staff facilitate inquiry

By Anne Stevenson

Imagine an after-school program in which second graders learn about chemical change by making pancakes. Or a club in which kids in fourth through sixth grades build a Rube Goldberg machine for a county competition. Or a group of teens re-engineering an underwater robot.

How do you, as the adult guiding the learning experience, facilitate inquiry to best engage them and challenge deeper thinking?

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Wants or needs? The role that young people can play in developing a country

By Joshua Rice

My colleague Molly Frendo and I visited Bangladesh last month to consult on how to improve agricultural training in that country. Our hosts in the Department of Youth Development asked us to identify youth empowerment needs in the agriculture sector and outline the resources and interventions needed to close gaps and steps for implementation.

Program development is an aspect of my job that I am passionate about. I enjoy identifying a need or missing element within a community and then constructing programs to address them. I follow a four-step process: identify, develop, facilitate and evaluate.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Help set the research agenda: What do we need to know about nature-based learning?

By Cathy Jordan

Fueled by Richard Louv’s popular book, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder, and supported by the organization Children & Nature Network, (which Louv and several others co-founded in 2006) a worldwide movement has been gaining traction to reconnect children to the natural environment. More and more research is being published suggesting that nature play and nature-based learning provide children with benefits across the age range and across diverse developmental areas including: physical health, mental health, learning, motor development, cognitive development, and social-emotional learning.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

2 myths about young people and college aspirations

A major political strategy to address educational disparities has been to raise the aspirations of young people with a low socioeconomic status (SES). Case in point: This entertaining video features a rapping FLOTUS encouraging youth to "go to college".


I don't dispute the core message -- that going to college is a way to discover one's intrinsic value and professional opportunities, and yes, young people should go to college. But two key assumptions implicit in this video (and in many U.S. initiatives to address educational inequities) are just plain wrong.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

How to support SEL skills -- from programs that work

By Kate Walker

While we often talk about "bridging research and practice," too often that bridge is a one-way street aimed at getting practitioners to recognize and use the research being conducted. But if we want more research-based practice, we need to engage in more practice-based research. We need more research aimed at understanding effective practice from the practitioners' perspective, as they experience and enact it. We need research that is wholly committed to generating useful information that can inform and improve daily practice.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

"I'm no good at science!"

By Margo Bowerman

This is one of the saddest statements I hear from young people. I can almost guarantee it’s not true. When I talk to them, they’ve done things in science that I didn’t do until much later, and they can explain it better than I!  So why don’t they see themselves as science learners?

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

How to turn optimism into measurable goals

By Samantha Grant

It’s well into February so chances are that your 2016 New Year’s resolutions are a thing of the past. 52% of respondents in a study by Richard Wiseman were confident in their ability to succeed when setting their resolutions, but 88% failed. That’s not a great statistic!

As an evaluator, I work with teams to set goals for their youth programs at the beginning of each program year.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Play and mentoring are a seriously good combination

By Joshua Kukowski

At the school my daughter will attend in a few years, recess is only 20 minutes long. I have fond school memories of conquering multiple snow hills during recess, and of wishing that I had more time for it. According to the National PTA, my school boy desire was a healthy one -- 20 minutes is not enough.

Today I am an educator working with multiple youth programs. Recently, while on a mentoring site visit with a partner organization, I witnessed two contrasting events:

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

What's the connection between youth development and protest?

By Kathryn Sharpe

Photo: Maricruz Lozano
On Wed. Jan. 20, just two days after we commemorated Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy, hundreds of middle school and high school students in the Twin Cities took part in a walkout called, “Mi Familia No/Not My Family”. They were protesting recent raids and deportations by Immigration and Customs Enforcement targeting Central American migrants, many of them families with children who came to the U.S. fleeing violence in their home countries. The remarkable aspect of this protest was that it was initiated and planned entirely by high school students, and they mobilized youth from every background and experience, both those directly impacted by this issue and allies.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

One step at a time to intentional program design

By Nancy Hegland

“You don’t climb mountains without a team, you don’t climb mountains without being fit, you don’t climb mountains without being prepared and you don’t climb mountains without balancing the risks and rewards. And you never climb a mountain on accident – it has to be intentional”.  Mark Udall, former U.S. Senator from Colorado, now working with Outward Bound.

Turning the calendar to 2016 causes me to reflect on the past year and make efforts to do some things better and with more intentionality.
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