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Showing posts from June, 2021

Professional development: Change agents in a pandemic

By Nicole Pokorney In her 2014 blog, Professional development is money in the bank for youth-serving organizations , Nancy Hegland outlines the many benefits of providing professional development to employees, such as improved program quality, increased job satisfaction and reduced stress. Her blog also describes the need for creative delivery methods. Trish Sheehan describes similar benefits in her 2018 blog, Take care of your program and your professional self . Trish continues, “ Dorie Clarke suggests professional development takes on three main forms: learning, connecting and creating. Identifying what you need to gain or improve on in each of the three areas helps you to advance your work and establish your profession.” In response to the U of M Extension Center for Youth Development's identified priority of promoting learning and hands-on activities in the outdoors for youth and families, and the increasing need for addressing inclusivity and diversity in outdoor education p

Data that sticks: Tips on how to visually communicate your data

By Somongkol Teng As a program evaluator, I’m often approached for assistance with data collection, analysis, and most importantly, reporting. People often tell me they can't create eye-catching reports or slides because they don't know graphic design or aren't computer-savvy. Good data visualization and communication require more than good computer skills; similarly, a visually appealing slide deck or report doesn’t always imply effective communication.  In this blog post, I’ll share with you five tips for how you can effectively communicate your data visually. Think of your audience(s) Different audiences (e.g. community leaders, funders, staff, parents, youth, etc.) all have different interests or needs, which can affect the choice of format and data you develop for them. A county commissioner, for example, may prefer a high-level overview of the data, whereas program staff may want something more specific, such as how to improve their program. By knowing exactly what yo

Youth as social change agents

By Kathryn Sharpe Photo by Yingchou Han on I recently heard a 4-H alum speak passionately about his current work as an activist and changemaker in his community, and he traced those roots back to his involvement in 4-H. It made me wonder, how can we best equip youth to become social change agents in our youth development programs?    Youth development can learn a great deal about this from community organizing. Community organizing engages people to identify shared issues that impact them, and then work together to build power to effect change, frequently around issues of social justice. Organizers use skills such as deep listening, identifying mutual self-interest, and highlighting the strengths and assets in individuals and a community. Youth organizing programs bring these skills together with high quality youth development practices. Youth organizing programs maximize social-emotional benefits for youth because they embed the following principles: They are fundamental

Ensuring quality youth programs through session planning

By Nicole Kudrle The last 15 months have been a rollercoaster ride, navigating programming during the coronavirus pandemic with its many ups and downs. As I reflect on my experience, I've seen tremendous growth in my program development and delivery style. While I still don’t like to watch recordings of myself leading a program, I have found it to be a way to reflect and improve as a youth development professional. I have also been extremely grateful for  Youth Program Quality Observations of the programs I have taught. These observations have provided me with feedback from a third party to allow for further development of my teaching skills.  My greatest growth has been in session planning. When I begin to prepare for a program, I still write a lesson, but I also take time to develop a plan for each session. In the development of my session plans, I work to align them with the Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality Pyramid , a research based approach for youth development profe