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How to counter youth hatred

By Jessica Russo

A recent study based on Southern Poverty Law Center data found there are 917 organized hate groups in the US. How is this significant to youth work? Put quite simply, because hatred is toxic. Toxic emotions such as hate and anger can lead to emotional and physical health problems. Specifically, race-related stress has shown to be a more powerful risk factor than stressful life events, and hating as a response to being hated often leads to lower self-esteem.

A report that came out last year shows that race relations have gotten only slightly better overall, and in some cases things have gotten worse or stayed the same, in the last 50 years.  Divisions between races and cultures breed uncertainty and lack of trust, which lead to fear, anger, and finally hatred.

What youth learn at home is so powerful that it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking we can’t do much about it. But there is a lot we can and should do, because silence on the subject can be just as impactful …
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4-H program development using the Tarnside Curve of Involvement

By Michael Compton

Growing the 4-H program in local communities can be a challenge. To connect 4-H to targeted audiences, a program approach that focuses on growth using a continual process can be very beneficial. Luckily there is a model to help do so!


Tarnside Consulting developed its Tarnside Curve of Involvement for fund development. It can also be applied to program and volunteer development and partnership building. It's a simple six-stage process that is easy to follow and implement.

When I worked as a 4-H program coordinator in a local office, I used this model and had great success. Here are some examples of how I applied the model and its six stages.

Awareness Awareness means creating ways for others to learn what 4-H is. I worked with local 4-H clubs and we went to events where there were large numbers of people. We went to sporting events, parent-teacher conferences and other local community events. We set up information booths, held prize drawings and brought youth to …

Take a customer-service approach to youth programs

By Nancy Hegland

I recently heard a county commissioner talk about the importance of giving excellent customer service to county government customers. The same is true for youth programs. Youth, parents, volunteers, partners and external stakeholders are all customers and it's essential that we consistently serve them well.

How can we do this? We train all program and support staff in our organization on it. They learn to give our customers a welcoming and culturally relevant experience that exceeds their expectations. In youth development organizations, our varied customers have very different expectations.

I like the University of Minnesota Center for Tourism’s “At Your Service” training. It teaches the foundations of customer service, increases awareness of culture and how it affects customer service, and helps learners to feel confident and committed to providing superior customer service.

It's important to consider customers' needs. Have you thought about the customer s…

The importance of media literacy in the age of fake news

By Ann Nordby

Fake news is an article that tells a lie. But calling an article “fake” doesn't mean that it's a lie. How can anyone tell the difference? By acquiring a few critical thinking skills and becoming a savvy media consumer.

My colleague Jessica Russo has blogged about the importance of civil discourse. I couldn't agree more. In addition to being able to discuss their differences, young people also need to be able to decipher the media messages they are receiving.

It’s a myth that anyone with common sense is media literate. Nobody is born with this skill, just as no one is born knowing how to read. Media literacy is the ability to understand media messages, how they are constructed and why they are being sent. It’s a 21st century skill, essential for participating in the workforce and a democracy.

Sadly, a recent Stanford University study revealed that most young people in the U.S. don't have this skill. In an 18-month study of middle school, high school and uni…

Human rights and youth development

By Kathryn Sharpe

I recently had conversations with young people about: Should rural access to broadband be considered an educational necessity given how much of school learning requires online research?Why do we allow people to be homeless even during the bitter cold?Is access to healthy food a right or a privilege?
I realized that to fully address these seemingly unrelated topics, I needed a larger framework than just our society’s norms or laws, so I drew upon human rights. Seventy years ago, in the long shadow cast by World War II and the Holocaust, nations from all over the world signed the International Declaration of Human Rights (IDHR).This agreement asserts that the “recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.”
But why are human rights relevant for young people today? In a world that is increasingly interconnected through media, communications, trave…

The tension that sparks youth program innovation

By Rebecca Meyer

Entrepreneur Seth Godin describes innovation as a process akin to natural selection. He says that what sparks innovation is sharing ideas and making surprising connections with new and different people. His podcast on the subject got me thinking about the work we do in youth development and Extension.

In 4-H, we design and implement programs that encourage young people to build the skills they need for a lifetime. We foster learning experiences for them to learn and lead, with the support of caring adults. Our tagline is “Minnesota 4-H grows true leaders.”

Many youth programs are tackling problems and complex challenges through innovation in program design. Innovative ideas are born through sharing and connecting. Research suggests that innovative teams have ways of sparking these ideas, recognizing the great ones, and growing them into effective programs.

I'm interested in understanding the process of program innovation. I'm working with two colleagues on it. …

How to be more inclusive with LGBTQ youth

By Joseph Rand

Want to ensure youth are learning? Start with safety and be a learner yourself.

Young people who don’t feel social, emotional and physical safety have a hard time learning. LGBTQ youth who are marginalized fall into this category much of the time.

The 2017 School Climate Survey from Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) indicates that victimization in schools based on gender expression and sexual orientation had remained steady since the previous survey in 2015.

LGBTQ students experiencing discrimination and harassment:
Are more likely to miss school.Are more likely to face discipline in school.Are less likely to attend post-secondary education.Have lower grades.Have lower self esteem.
While some forms of harassment trended downward, harassment based on gender expression has risen. So has the frequency of negative remarks regarding gender expression from school staff. Though there are more Gender Sexuality Alliances (GSAs) than before, LGBTQ youth continue …