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Showing posts from January, 2022

Developmental evaluation: An approach to help youth programs pivot

By Joanna Tzenis I don’t know about all of you, but if I hear the word “pivot” one more time during this pandemic, I might lose my mind. During the pandemic, many of us in the fields of youth and family development have had to toss our well-planned programs, curricula, staffing plans, and pedagogical practices out the window and improvise new strategies so that young people and families continue to learn and feel valued amidst the most challenging and complex social conditions of our lifetimes. This is why many argue that developmental evaluation is needed now more than ever. What is developmental evaluation?  Developmental evaluation (DE) is an approach that helps “social innovators” find innovative solutions in uncertain and complex environments through rapid feedback on issues that unfold through the implementation of a program. It is best suited for situations when it is impossible to know all the challenges or situations a program might face in the future -- you know, like durin

The Unchosen Ones: Lessons in resilience

By Kate Walker In 2016, photographer R.J. Kern took 65 portraits of Minnesota 4-H youth who didn’t win their county fair livestock competitions. Four year later -- in the midst of the pandemic -- he returned to photograph the young subjects. He asked them what they carried forward from their previous experience: What life skills have they learned? What advice would they give other competitors?  The portraits and reflections offer lessons on resilience and illustrate how young people learn from disappointments and rise from challenges. They also confirm what research tells us about how youth learn from emotions in youth programs and projects .  Resilience is the ability to cope with stress, bounce back from hardships. and use what was learned from setbacks to better navigate future challenges. "You win some, you lose some, that’s just how 4-H goes", Nick from Otter Tail County tells Kern.  In this video , 4-Hers share some of the life skills they’ve gained, from responsibilit

The journey to the answer - we all need to be connected

By Nicole Pokorney My professional leave to tackle the topic of access and equity for youth in the outdoors has been quite a journey. I set off without knowing my destination, with a handwritten, unfinished map. Along the way I found myself bushwhacking through tough readings, venturing off on side trails to more information, and stopping at places of awe. The tangled web of trails finally converged for me when I came across a sign at the entrance to the woods that read,  “Connections in nature, with each other, with art, with the universe...WE ARE ALL CONNECTED.” This simple sign seemed to condense my hours of research and reading into a theme - the imperative need for connections to nature, to each other, and to the land. Connections to nature. In my last blog post , I stressed the need to connect youth to nature in ways that best fit their learning styles, passions and hobbies. Today I’d go further to argue that everyone needs to be connected to nature, and that every program, reg