Skip to main content


Showing posts from February, 2023

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