Skip to main content


Showing posts from October, 2019

Journey mapping: See your program through the eyes of 4-H families

By Somongkol Teng Are you wondering if your youth program offers a positive experience to youth and their families? Are you wondering what their journey through your program is like? Are you looking for in-depth information and stories about their experiences that a quantitative survey might not reveal? If you say “yes” to any or all of these questions, you should try journey mapping, a revealing evaluation method. What is journey mapping? Journey mapping has its origins in customer experience and human-centered design. It's an evaluation method that can help you to visualize a customer’s journey through a program or service. In other words, a journey map can show you the path a stakeholder — youth, family member, volunteer or staff — takes through your program. It can reveal where your strengths and weaknesses lie. Research on customer experience shows that every touchpoint a customer has with your organization has an impact on their interest, satisfaction and loyalty.

A process for advancing equity in youth programs

By Kate Walker Originally published in EdWeek .  Editor's Intro: Youth development and community-based organizations are taking steps to address diversity, equity, and inclusion. Today, Kate Walker, University of Minnesota Extension professor and specialist in youth work practice, describes the process the Extension Center for Youth Development used to create consensus around barriers to, and strategies for, advancing equity in youth programs. There are many different interpretations of the word "equity." For us at the University of Minnesota Extension Center for Youth Development, we define equity as promoting just and fair inclusion and creating the conditions in which all young people can participate, prosper, and reach their full potential. In other words, equity is everyone having what they need to be successful. As we began developing a learning series for youth workers focused on exploring and advancing equity in youth programs, we recognized that we are not e

Your unspoken thoughts could be holding young people back

By Jessica Pierson Russo They say dogs can “smell fear.” Can kids smell when we don’t really respect them? We're at parent-teacher conferences. My son's teacher says, “Overall, your son is doing fine in my class.” I nod. My husband nods. I look over at my son at the end of the table about four feet away. He’s resting his chin in his hands, and he looks tense. She goes on, “He has had his moments of teenage angst, but that’ll pass." My son’s eyes freeze over with resentment. There it is, I think to myself. There’s the tension. I look back at the teacher, who continues to talk, oblivious to the chasm she’s just carved between herself and her student. This experience reminded me what an impact our thoughts have when we're working with youth. Using positive youth development in our work is supposed to help us recognize and build the strengths in young people. But what happens when our thoughts get in the way of effective practice? Am I viewing this young person as

How to make youth feel they belong in your program

By Karyn Santl I heard a local high school coach on the radio being asked about how to promote good team dynamics.  Her answer was, “It’s about the relationships.”  I couldn't agree more! As an educator in the area of positive youth development, I truly believe it all boils down to the relationships. Everyone wants to feel that they matter to others and that they belong to something or somewhere. Young people are no exception. Belonging is one of the four essential elements of the 4-H youth development program . We define it as the need of young people to know they are cared about, and to feel a sense of connection to others in a group. As staff members and volunteers, it's our job to create a safe and inclusive environment that will foster positive relationships for the young people we serve. My favorite youth development research comes from the Search Institute . They have some good recent research around actions that make young people's relationships powerful .