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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Why equity matters in youth development

By Kathryn Sharpe

As the demographic makeup of the U.S. undergoes a sea change of diversification, 4-H and other national historical legacy youth development organizations face a critical question: What will it take to stay relevant in the 21st Century?

This year, as part of the Northstar Youth Worker Fellowship, I undertook a research project to explore this question. My conclusion? We must work to create equity in our programs.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

5 ways to measure youth – adult connections

Informal social support networks with non-related adults are important resources for young people working through the good times and the difficulties of life. Positive connections to adult volunteers, staff and mentors result in positive outcomes for youth. But how can we measure this? I have suggestions for how to measure strong connections between youth and the caring adults in their lives, based on the benefits of  positive youth-adult connections:

Monday, October 10, 2016

Reflecting on my failure

By Mark Haugen

We've got a plan. It's a good plan. A tremendous plan! I don't mean to brag, but it is one of the finest. The need for this is clear. It's important for our organization, to me personally, and people say the change is needed. Their insights make the plan even better!  So why isn't my plan working out? Is it my fault? Am I failing as a leader because I'm afraid?

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

To attract minority members, start by recruiting minority volunteers

By Joshua Rice

In Minnesota 4-H we've recently been doing a lot of thinking about recruiting first-generation participants -- those whose parents were never involved in 4-H. One question that tends to float to the top of the discussion is how to attract and engage minority populations. This led me to ponder, what are some innovative strategies that could attract first-generation minority youth into 4-H?

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Running respectful youth programs during controversy

By Kyra Paitrick

This summer the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in North Dakota has taken a stand against the Dakota Access Pipeline, which when built would convey thousands of gallons of crude oil across the Dakotas, Iowa and Illinois, across sovereign Indian nations. Standing Rock is a sovereign nation and argues that they should have been consulted prior to any approval of the pipeline. According to the National Congress of American Indians, “Self-government is essential if tribal communities are to continue to protect their unique cultures and identities. Tribes have the inherent power to govern all matters involving their members, as well as a range of issues in Indian Country.” The current issues with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the Dakota Access Pipeline are a good example of how the tribe can exercise their sovereign rights and why these rights are so important to the tribes.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

How to fail at storytelling

By Samantha Grant 

I will admit that I’m a data nerd. Even so, I might skim through an evaluation journal and read only the articles that are relevant to my work. But recently, I got the summer 2016 issue of New Directions for Evaluation and read it from cover to cover. I was completely sucked in. I have never before read an entire issue.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Why youth programs matter for Somali American youth

By Joanna Tzenis 

The benefits youth reap in youth programs are well understood. High-quality programs provide enriching experiences that broaden their perspectives, improve their socialization, enhance their skills and support healthy identity development -- especially during adolescence. The specific benefit to Somali American youth is less well understood, because they are less likely than their peers to participate in organized youth programs. I would argue that it's important to engage them in youth programs, particularly here in Minnesota, home to the largest Somali population in the U.S.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Context means everything in youth work

By Joshua Kukowski 

I recently attended a 21st Century Community Learning Center summer conference in which the keynote speaker spoke about how context means everything in youth work, and yet we frequently overlook it when working with young people. The speaker's own context was amazing, inspiring, and tough to hear, yet compelling. It affirmed my own conviction that a young person's context is powerful, and that out-of-school-time programs have the power to tilt young people in the right direction.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Considering Historical Trauma When Working with Native American Children and Families

By Mina Blyly-Strauss, Research assistant - Children, Youth & Family Consortium, Extension Center for Family Development

This post first appeared in Family Matters, the newsletter of the Extension Center for Family Development.

Image: Mina Blyly-Strauss
I came to my CYFC graduate assistant position as an educational professional whose early work was with Native American teenagers. This is a demographic group often noted for some of the largest educational and health disparities in the state of Minnesota. More recently, I have focused on early childhood as a critical time to interrupt cycles of recurring disparities and to start healthy developmental trajectories.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Is there a leadership gap?

By Brian McNeill

When I'm out working with community organizations, I hear this complaint from many local leaders: "There are no young people stepping forward to replace me on this committee!" They seem frustrated that they can't leave a community committee because there's no one to replace them. This made me wonder, is there really a leadership gap, and if so, why?
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