New publications focus on helping Kansas 4-H youth to thrive
Pandemic hasn’t slowed state’s largest youth organization from pushing forward
Nov. 30, 2020
MANHATTAN, Kan. – The global pandemic may have slowed in-person meetings, but a pair of Kansas 4-H youth development officials said it has not stunted that organization’s resolve to help the state’s kids grow and succeed.
In fact, northeast region specialist Diane Mack said the Kansas 4-H program adopted an attitude that it would help members and volunteers thrive while continuing its programs virtually.
“To help our club and project leaders, we formed a task force to arm them with new resources for engaging members and families in a virtual setting,” Mack said.
Mack said several new publications include ideas for how to run virtual meetings, welcoming new members and even creative roll call ideas. All of the materials are available online in the 4-H Club Corner.
Tristen Cope, a family and youth development agent in Marion County (in the Chisholm Trail District), notes that the ideas are built around research by Mary Arnold, a 4-H specialist at Oregon State University, who developed the 4-H Thriving Model – an outline of the ingredients of a high quality 4-H program and how those programs help youth achieve key developmental outcomes.
The core concepts of The Thriving Model include:
- Sense of connection or belonging. Setting a safe and inclusive environment that includes all, and focuses on well-being.
- Focus on youth sparks. Kansas 4-H defines ‘sparks’ as those passions that a youth has. Programs should focus on developing sparks within the project that each youth is involved in.
- Continue developmental relationships. 4-H youth should know that they have supportive, caring connections with other youth and adults, and help them work toward contributing to their community.
- Encourage the youth’s voice. During the pandemic, there are times when we have felt like we don’t have control. It’s important to help youth understand how they can remain engaged, provide input and contribute to the 4-H program and their community.
“Research shows that participation in high quality 4-H programs increases thriving in youth,” Mack said, “and thriving youth achieve important developmental outcomes, such as academic motivation and achievement.”
Additional guidelines for Kansas 4-H clubs to encourage youth’s growth is available in a publication titled Youth Program Quality Principles.
Cope noted that Kansas 4-H has provided training on how to use the resources contained in the Club Corner to officers and leaders across the state. “It’s been great to showcase these documents and the support the local groups have from our state 4-H office,” she said.
More information on opportunities available through Kansas 4-H is available online.