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Challenges and success in engaging youth virtually

By Nicole Kudrle

During the Covid-19 pandemic, program staff were challenged to develop innovative programming that would not be just a temporary solution, but an alternative method of engaging youth. The Northeast 4-H Cloverbud Project Days is an example of a unique learning opportunity that I co-developed to engage and build connections with youth in grades K-2 during the pandemic. This program has evolved over the last four years to become a permanent opportunity to engage this young audience. 

A project day is an opportunity for youth to explore their passions through completing hands-on learning experiences. When working with youth in kindergarten through 2nd grade it is important to engage them with activities that are developmentally appropriate. You want to ensure that the program you are offering is specifically designed for them, creates a safe and welcoming environment that allows youth in K-2 to learn leadership skills, public speaking skills, and build friendships. 

The model for our project day engages youth gathered together at sites in their community. Each site joins a Zoom meeting, facilitated by two program staff. Over the years this program has adapted, but virtual facilitation has remained a core element.  When youth participate in a virtual meeting space it comes with both challenges and benefits.

Challenges to virtual learning

When offering virtual facilitation with young youth, there are important concerns that need to considered:  

Benefits to virtual learning

Virtually learning is not for everyone, but when done well the benefits can outweigh the concerns. Virtual programs can:
How are you strategically engaging youth in virtual learning environments? Do you ever stop to examine the challenges? How might you turn these experiences into a success?

-- Nicole Kudrle, Extension educator

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