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Andragogy in youth work?

By Karyn Santl A youth worker works with youth, right? They do! But they also interact with adults including parents, volunteers and other staff. In the organization I work with we have adult volunteers that lead various learning opportunities for youth. Our paid staff lead and manage volunteers as part of their position. They also interact with the parents of our youth members. Adult learning principles A youth worker will likely interact with adults in a variety of ways: facilitating group training, serving on a committee with other adults, in one-on-one conversations, or alongside an adult to coordinate an event. Whether you're training adults or working alongside them, a good resource to rely on is the adult learning principles. These principles are known as andragogy , the “art and science of teaching adults”. I’ve summarized these principles from a University of Kentucky Extension article and a National 4-H curriculum . Adults are independent and self-directed learners. They
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Building healthy partnerships

By Karen Beranek Youth development professionals want to make a difference in the lives of the youth they serve. With so many youth-serving organizations, working together can make a deeper impact in reaching more youth.  University of Minnesota Extension partners to deliver local programming throughout the state. Our  Minnesota 4-H program  greatly values the many youth organizations we have the opportunity to work with including: PreK-12 schools  Higher educational institutions Government agencies Tribal communities For-profit businesses Nonprofit organizations Community groups  What does a healthy partnership look like? It starts with the idea that we can do more together than separately. My colleagues describe  developing a partnership mindset  as: Persistent effort Effective relationship skills Transparent communication Adaptability Minnesota 4-H supports successful partnership-building by understanding that each partnership will look unique based on the diverse needs of the youth

Benefits of creative writing in groups of youth

By Sarah Odendahl The secret artist - it’s a popular media trope. A teenager who enjoys writing, drawing, or writing songs does so in private, with most of their family and friends oblivious to their talent. It can make for a compelling story, but research is showing that youth have much more to gain by performing their creative endeavors in a group of their peers. There is a wealth of research spanning decades that shows that creative and artistic formats can help improve mental health and emotional well-being.  More recent research adds to what we know by exploring the impact of creative work that is made and shared in a group setting. Engaging in creative writing in a group setting can help youth: Develop and understand their identity . A writing group that creates a safe environment for participation allows youth to "feel free to be authentic (be how they like to be) and honest about their thoughts and feelings." Develop relationships between peers . Youth have an opport

Experiential learning—What it really is

By Jessica Pierson Russo Positive youth development is all about helping youth learn from their experiences, and providing them with new experiences to learn from. And what better way to bring this learning about than through experiential learning itself? From John Dewey’s Experience and Education (1938), to David Kolb’s interpretation of Dewey’s and others’ theories in Experiential Learning (1984), the approach of experiential learning has long been a staple in both adult education and the field of youth development. But it’s still my own go-to approach to teaching because I believe that done right, experiential learning is an effective way to bring out the joy and satisfaction of learning. But what do I mean “done right?” It’s important to understand that experiential learning is not just a hands-on approach . For one thing, a learning experience doesn’t always mean physically using your hands. Learning can be just as fun and effective if you’re having an engaging discussion as i

Engaging youth in meetings

By Nicole Kudrle These days I find my schedule packed with meetings. The popularity of Zoom has allowed us to meet with one another more , while traveling less. I have started to wonder if all of these meetings are really necessary. Are they productive, or are we just meeting because we want to socialize with one another? This got me thinking about my work with youth and wondering if they were experiencing something similar.  I noticed a steady decline in youth attendance at 4-H federation meetings and I wanted to find out why. In the fall of 2022, I met with a group of youth and volunteers to discuss the decline in attendance and developed a plan to change it. Youth shared that they were attending meeting after meeting. They often had meetings during the week with sports, other youth organizations, and churches. They identified that they were burnt out because of all these meetings. From this focused conversation, youth identified five key items that prevented them from wanting to at

Youths’ educational pathways: Why belonging matters

By Joanna Tzenis Supporting youths’ education and career pathways requires more than ensuring youth gain academic knowledge and skills. Belonging is foundational for young people to experience educational success . Nonformal programs, when designed with intention and with community engagement have been shown to effectively help youth place themselves on thriving future pathways by prioritizing youth belonging in their program design. Schools are important sites of belonging as well. But, there is little agreement in educational policy and practical circles on how belonging should be conceptualized, measured, and fostered.  In this blog, I share two illustrations from a collaboration of researchers, youth workers, community leaders, school administrators and teachers. This participatory research project aims to construct research with young people, understand how they experience belonging in their community and how arts-based, experiential methodologies might help foster belonging

Are youth getting enough nature in their lives?

By Nicole Pokorney Increased screen time and the lack of outside play and exercise can have detrimental effects on the health of children and youth. We also know that having a connection with nature has proven to have positive benefits for mental, physical, and social needs of children. Spending time in nature allows us to restore our bodies, minds, and spirits, and also has clinical health advantages. However, is there a magic dosage of nature we all need to experience these benefits and if so, what is it? Tanya Denckla Cobb, from the University of Virginia, developed the idea of the Nature Pyramid, where we experience various amounts of spending time in nature and to different degrees. In 2012, Tim Beatley, Founder and Executive Director of the Biophilic Cities Project , turned the concept into a graphic depiction and gave further explanation in his article, Exploring the Nature Pyramid . The pyramid has been replicated through the years by various organizations and with a variety o