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Showing posts from May, 2021

Cultivating change

By Joseph Rand My partner Todd and I purchased ten acres in central Minnesota about four years ago, dreaming about building a house, hobby farm, and starting a small beef herd. We achieved that dream just over a year ago right before COVID hit. Last summer was spent landscaping, grading, and prepping a spot out back where a future barn will sit. One of the first neighbors we met from right next door also has a hobby farm. I remember when he pulled up on his “Kubota” (that’s how he always refers to his tractor) and said, “So, you guys are gay huh? I gotta brother who’s gay. You won’t have trouble with me, but there are other neighbors who might just steer clear of you.” While some of this introduction was problematic, the positive welcoming intention was genuine. We have since become great friends and neighbors. We didn’t know what to expect when we moved to a small rural township southwest of St. Cloud. However, we have become friends with neighbors around bonfires and the exchange of

Culturally relevant youth programs: An example from the field

By Joanna Tzenis In a recent research brief , I synthesized research that highlights the importance of ensuring that youth programs are culturally responsive--meaning that youths’ cultural experiences and perspectives are represented and included in program structure and staffing. One programmatic tip I offered for pulling this off was to be flexible with program structures and policies that might not align with participants’ culture of origin. I thought I’d share one specific experience that helped me practice flexibility in programming. This practice was as simple as making space for homework help for Somali immigrant-origin youth during their 4-H program. Rising Impact (formally Ka Joog)  and 4-H collaborated on a Take-off STEAM model , with the support of funding from the CYFAR program . We had shared goals of helping Somali youth thrive in their education and worked together to achieve this through youth programming. I learned quickly that Somali families’ culture and faith pri

Growing and learning when we don’t know what to expect

By Nancy Hegland Years ago while in a leadership program, I was asked to develop my leadership philosophy. I clearly remember sitting outside at the conference center wondering exactly what I should write and searching my brain for ideas. It then came to me that my leadership philosophy would be focused on a blooming plant. It was centered on the various stages that a blooming plant experiences as well as the outside factors that contribute to the success of a plant’s growth.  I believe that as we work in the field of youth development we need to seek ways to grow and learn, even though during times of uncertainty it seems more challenging. As leaders, we may also need to explore the best ways to lead, as change continues to occur and we merge our past and new ways of working into the future. In his book, Always Growing, Jones Loflin shares four ideas on how to use this gardening season to prepare for the next one . These ideas can be focused on individuals, as well as each program tha