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Learning as adventure

By Jeremy Freeman For several years prior to coming to Extension I worked at an Outdoor Education and Leadership program that centered their organization around using adventures as a tool for development. Set in the rural mountains of Western Montana, adventure was not hard to find. A key element to this organization's approach however was their belief that adventure was everywhere. They defined adventure as ' any situation with an unknown outcome .' By using this definition the organization was able to process lessons learned in the outdoors across everyday experiences. The element of adventure has remained with me over the years, and I am excited to see some of these themes emerge in this year's 4-H Annual Volunteer Training, Learning as Adventure . With young people, adventure is a part of life. Just think briefly to yourself of some of the many ways a young person may encounter a situation with an unknown outcome . Here is a short list to get you started: Building
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Moving beyond resilience towards thriving

By Karen Beranek For much of the past two years young people, just like us youth development professionals, have focused so much energy on being resilient and building coping and adapting skills in the face of challenges . We’ve all gotten the chance to get pretty good at it. As we plan our fall programming, how can we shift from a reactive to a proactive approach where we move beyond resilience toward thriving?  The 4-H Thriving Model illustrates how participating in high quality youth program settings helps youth thrive, and thriving youth achieve key developmental outcomes. Mary Arnold has led this work, and her blog about putting the 4-H Thriving Model into real world practice highlights the distinction between resilience and thriving: But thriving, ah, thriving is different than resilience. Thriving is more than coping with adversity and overcoming incredible challenges despite how difficult the situation is. Thriving is about optimal development- about being the best we can be

Building skills to interrupt bias

By Karyn Santl Becoming anti-racist or an ally of differently abled persons is an ongoing learning and growth process. One action you can take is to build skills to interrupt biases or stereotypes when you see them. Interruptions are often an attempt to stop a present or future harmful behavior, model respectful words and actions, create a safe space, advocate for those oppressed by the behavior, and support those being harmed. Interrupting oppressive and biased actions and words is a form of allyship. It shows you care and want people to be safe.  Youth workers can role model interrupting biases as well as teach skills to interrupt. Two resources I have found helpful in increasing my skills in this area are Speak Up at School by Learning for Justice , and Toolkit for Interrupting Oppression by the Oregon Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence . The Speak Up at School guide gives these strategies to use in the moment when harmful words or actions are taking place:   Interrupt

TL;DR: Articles you may have missed

By Kate Walker In my role as editor for the Journal of Youth Development (JYD), I read a lot of great articles. JYD is designed to bridge applied research and practice. In other words, it addresses issues and features studies and practices that have implications for those working with and on behalf of young people in youth-serving organizations and the intermediaries that support them. However, many of those folks don’t have time to read journal articles. Allow me to highlight a few important JYD publications that you may have missed (from most recent): Silence is Not an Option: Oral History of Race in Youth Development Through the Words of Esteemed Black Scholars . The study of race has been silenced in many areas of science including youth development research. Harris and Outley synthesize an antiracist agenda from the perspectives of six Black scholars: Tabbye Chavous, Michael Cunningham, Davido Dupree, Leoandra Onnie Rogers, Stephanie Rowley, and Robert Sellers. Youth Programs Are

Using person-centered thinking

By Darcy Cole As youth development professionals, we plan many experiences for young people and we sincerely try our best to think about (from our own personal perspective and lens) what is best for them and what we think they should do or learn. However, we may not ask often enough what is important to them, and what they want to do, learn or experience. This may be because it seems easier for us to speak on behalf of youth than it is to empower them to be their own voice. We may also think that we know what they want or sometimes we may even have our own agendas that we want to promote.  Person-centered thinking provides a way for us to empower youth to be their own voice and advocate for themselves in our programs.    The concept of person-centered thinking (PCT) is used most often in the disability field. It can, however, be beneficial for those in youth development. PCT is about identifying both what is important TO a person and what is important FOR a person while also identifyi

Cultivating identity formation in youth programs through authenticity

By Jessica Pierson Russo As a young boy, my son had a volatile temper. One day, in trouble again at his afterschool program, instead of the usual reprimand, I saw three friends (one of whom my son had just hit) assuring him that he could control himself. They hugged him, and in humble gratitude, I took a picture. This moment had provided him a sense of safety and acceptance during a difficult time in his identity formation—he hated himself for his lack of control. The youth program played an important role in helping him move on from this years-long struggle. I believe authenticity was a key factor.   Authenticity—the extent to which we can be our true selves without hiding—may seem like a utopian ideal—afterall, the process of getting to know oneself, especially in teenhood, can be messy, and depending on the behavior involved, we may not always be able to accommodate a particular child’s struggle. But identity formation is a vital part of adolescent health, and youth programs have th

Equity-informed volunteer recognition: Three shifts in practice

By Marisa A. Coyne Volunteer recognition is a proven volunteer retention strategy for nonprofit organizations. However, many formal recognition approaches are designed to celebrate volunteers with long tenures and leadership roles, meaning volunteers with fewer years of service or more informal roles go overlooked. As youth development organizations prioritize diversity, equity, and justice in volunteer engagement, volunteer diversity in terms of race, ethnicity, gender, and age is on the rise.  Focusing on tenure and status-based volunteer recognition practices risks leaving out those new volunteers whose social identities may not be reflected in the current volunteer population. This presents an equity issue which can be mitigated by three shifts in practice inspired by Tema Okun’s work on dismantling racism in institutions. Okun encourages readers to be mindful of how the norms of quantity over quality, power hoarding, and one-right-way can show up in organizational practices. By