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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?”

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

How to make sure your programs are equipped to reach youth who most need them

By Daniel Cooper

We are not adequately preparing all youth for future success. Nearly 20% percent of U.S. students do not graduate high school within four years. Of the 1.5 million students who took the ACT in 2009, only 23% were considered ready to enroll in college without support.

Educational disparities are another big issue. Black-White education gaps are about the same now as they were in 1965. Latinxs are 2x less likely to have a college degree than European-American students. There is a need for programs that support youth of all backgrounds to achieve their educational and career goals.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

What's the big deal with pronouns?

By Joseph Rand

The kids at school call me Rand. Not Mr. Rand. Just, Rand. With colleagues, I tend to go by Joseph or Joe. My family has given me nicknames like Joey, Joe-Joe, Josephine, Joe-Bo, and probably the most memorable, Jo-Jo the Dog-Faced Boy. At this point in my life I have racked up a lot of nicknames. And, as you can imagine, some evoke a stronger reaction than others.

Monday, February 5, 2018

The importance of being 'youth-centric in real life

Guest blogger Torie Weiston-Serdon will co-present our Feb. 19 youth work symposium, "Re-imagining youth work through an equity lens".

In the past year, I have traveled around the country speaking to organizations about critical mentoring. I'm passionate about youth work. I center much of my discussion in the concept of youth centrism, and it turns out to be the concept that people are most attracted to. While I'm elated at the fact that people want to center youth in their work, I'm not sure that people recognize the significance of this concept. Critical mentoring, and critical youth work in general, is rooted in a liberatory framework concerned with ensuring that the most marginalized youth have the opportunity and the tools required to "get free".

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Re-imagining youth work through an equity lens

By Kate Walker

The Extension Center for Youth Development's next public symposium series will focus on operationalizing equity in Minnesota's youth-serving organizations. In other words, making equity actionable. By equity, we mean promoting just and fair inclusion and creating conditions in which all young people can participate, prosper, and reach their full potential. For us, equity is everyone having what they need to be successful.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

When it comes to after-school programs, more is better

By Nancy Hegland

Recently I've been in a book study group with colleagues that has reminded me why extracurricular programs are critical for youth development.

GRIT: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth offers a lot of insight. One chapter says that extracurricular programs have positive effects on a student's life generally. When it comes to school, participating in extracurricular activities make them more likely to have better grades, higher self-esteem and less likely to have risky behaviors. In addition, the longer youth are involved in extracurricular programs and the more hours per week they spend in that activity, the better the outcomes.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Youth learning in nature - a mutually beneficial relationship

By Rebecca Meyer

In the last decade, a lot of attention has been paid to how young people benefit from connecting with nature. One of the main benefits is a sense of well being. A growing body of research demonstrates that exposure to natural spaces – everything from parks to open countryside to gardens and other greenspace – is good for health. What's less well known is that nature benefits from this connection, too.
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