As we prepared for the fair, I had the opportunity to work with the Superintendents of 4-H and Open Class to review the Kansas 4-H Club Corner Youth Program Quality Principles. There are eight essential principles for quality youth programs as defined by 4-H. I believe these apply to any youth program!
1) Physical and psychological safety – Youth need to feel safe in 4-H programs and be able to interact positively with others. Kansas 4-H volunteers go through background checks and access training to provide a developmentally appropriate environment for young people.
2) Appropriate structure – Whether it’s a club meeting or a leadership camp, 4-H programs should have clear and consistent rules and expectations, with clear boundaries and appropriate oversight. age.
3) Supportive Relationships – All youth need to feel warmth and closeness to others in 4-H. Young people need to feel that others care about them and support them. They should also receive clear guidance and communication from 4-H volunteers and staff.
4) Belonging Opportunities – All young people should feel meaningfully included in 4-H, regardless of gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation or ability. Young people have the opportunity to share their culture and heritage with others and build a positive identity. For me, at the end of the day, have I helped a young person feel valued and have a support system?
5) Positive Social Norms – Youth should experience clear rules and expectations for participating in 4-H, including the values, morals and ethical expectations of being a 4-H member. Opportunities bring responsibility and it’s a life skill that includes meeting deadlines and a code of conduct for appropriate behavior, especially when representing your family, club, county and state at events.
6) Support for Effectiveness and Importance – 4-H youth should be taken seriously and respected for their ideas and contributions. Young people should be given the opportunity to develop their responsibilities and be challenged to set and achieve new goals. Representing their club on the 4-H board, serving on junior leaders, being selected for a 4-H ambassador role, and serving as club officers are all great examples of opportunities to develop accountability. Each new 4-H year provides an opportunity to set new project goals for learning. These are all important life skills!
7) Skills Building Opportunities – Young people need to develop physical, psychological, intellectual, emotional and social skills as they grow and develop. 4-H offers young people the opportunity to develop these skills, skills that support a young person in adulthood and in the workplace. One of the hallmarks of 4-H is the nearly 40 project areas offered to learn everything from arts and crafts to woodworking. As young people explore specific project materials, they also learn communication skills, responsibility, time management and a sense of belonging.
8) Integration of family, school and community – Youth in 4-H do best when there is a connection between their 4-H experience and their family, school and community. That’s why 4-H programs begin at the local level, in the community where young people can practice their new leadership skills as they grow and develop. As a teacher, do you have a 4-H member in your class? Invite them to share on a project! Are you part of a civic organization that would like to learn more about what 4-H members learn? Contact them and ask them to present! Your commitment and support helps enrich their 4-H experience and learning opportunities.
If you want to take an active role in developing the next generation of community leaders, business owners, and workforce, consider volunteering with a youth organization! This often means checking your own attitude and agenda at the door, but the results are amazing!
Keep learning. Continue to show grace and kindness.
Michelle Beran is the 4-H and Youth Development Officer for the Cottonwood District, Barton County office. For more information on this article or other issues related to 4-H youth and development, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 620-793-1910.