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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

From the director

Dear YD colleagues,

On June 20, the Minnesota 4-H Foundation will hold its 18th annual golf classic for Minnesota 4-H. The fun summer event raises funds that support 4-H programming across the state throughout the year. I volunteer at the event each year, and am always inspired by the generosity and passion for 4-H that is shown by our partners and supporters.

The highlight each year for the golfers is the groups of youth stationed at each of the holes with their 4-H projects, eager to talk with the golfers about how 4-H is making an impact in their lives.

The Foundation is currently looking for 4-H’ers to participate at the golf event. Please contact Erin Kelly-Collins at erinkc@umn.edu or 612-624-7667 by May 31 if you have youth who might be interested.

Giving youth opportunities to tell their stories is one of the most powerful ways to show the impact of 4-H to our supporters, and help them see the potential results of their contributions.  I encourage you to find ways to help 4-H youth share their stories with key audiences in your communities throughout the year.

Sincerely,

Dorothy McCargo Freeman
Associate dean & state 4-H director

Youth development leadership adopts recommendations for improving employee communications

The youth development leadership team has decided to take action on all seven strategies recommended for improving employee communications. The strategies and initial action steps were recommended by Ann Freeman, University relations consultant, and are based on the YD communications survey results.

The decision of the leadership team was made after hearing the input of employees, several who participated in the webinar and/or the follow-up conversations about the recommendations. Everyone involved in the conversations indicated that the recommendations are on the right track and would positively impact the effectiveness of our employee communication.

Over 50% of the participants involved in the conversations indicated that the highest priority was to “ensure all youth development employees have access to the technology needed for remote communication.”  Lack of equipment, county firewalls and access to high speed technology were all mentioned as significant barriers. Tamie Bremseth will lead youth development’s role in this strategy, connecting with Extension’s Field Operations team on the “next steps.”

Ann Nordby will execute the initial action steps for the four strategies (1-4) related to improving our technology based communication, consulting with youth development leadership as these move forward. Employees suggested that being clear on the purpose of each communication method, identifying and providing training on best practices for sending and managing email, and adding a search engine to the intranet were all essential.

The recommendation to improve transparency of decision-making and communication to staff will be led by Dorothy Freeman. The leadership team is committed to placing briefs in our employee newsletter with other work groups asked to adopt this practice beginning in the fall. The first brief was included in the May 5 issue of YD Update. The final strategy on regional employee communication will be led by the program leaders.

Tamie Bremseth and Brenda Shafer are leading the changes we are making to youth development’s employee communications.  Please connect with Tamie or Brenda if you have questions, concerns, or ideas.

Dorothy McCargo Freeman
Associate dean & state 4-H director

YD evaluation tips: The five year rule

Early in my career, I had a situation where I was agonizing over the possibility of missing an important family event because of a work meeting. A more seasoned colleague gave me the advice to use “the five year rule” when situations like this come up. The five year rule is simply asking yourself, “Five years from now, what will make the most difference?” Sometimes it is going to that work meeting and sometimes it’s changing plans and going to the other event.

Yes, I think this can apply to evaluation.

First, it applies to design.

Families and young people invest their time in 4-H. We want them to look back on that investment, whether it was camp, a year of 4-H, or many years of being an active 4-H’er and say, “That was worth it. My 4-H experience made such a difference in my life.” To claim positive outcomes, the activities need to be thoughtfully planned to align with the outcomes and have enough dosage to merit the claim.

Second, it applies to the evaluation plan. Learning how young people have changed as a result of our program takes time. This is about asking the question six months later or even years later. As an example, Samantha Grant surveyed 4-H’ers who had completed 12th grade to produce a report on learning and leading in 4-H.

Finally, let’s circle back to our work. Did all the night meetings add up to learning for the youth and volunteers who attended? Did the meetings add up to positive change in the volunteer system and in experiences provided for and with young people? Did the meetings add up to a solid contribution to the organization? And, did the work add up to a career that contributes and is satisfying? I hope the answer to all these questions is, “yes”.

The work we do really does matter.

Happy designing, happy evaluating, happy work.

Sherry Boyce
Extension educator

Spring regional reports now available!

The spring regional reports are now available on the YD Intranet. These reports contain data on the Strategic benchmarks, youth and volunteer snapshots, First Year Member Survey data, and Federal Report data. You will see that the 2016 format is similar to the April 2015 reports. We hope that you will be able to compare these side by side to see the progress that you are making in your region.

If you have any questions about the regional reports, please contact the Program Evaluation team.

Samantha Grant 
Interim evaluation director

Survey templates now available

The evaluation team wants to take the guess work out of formatting surveys. We now have survey templates that include the appropriate branding for your surveys, and suggested questions that can be used or edited to tailor them to your audience and program needs. Visit the program evaluation and research section of the YD Intranet to see the two different templates.

These templates are meant to be used when you give a survey to public audiences. (Branding isn't necessary if you're doing an internal staff survey.)

I hope this helps get you started in your next survey adventure!

Samantha Grant 
Interim evaluation director

2016 4-H Science of Agriculture video: Meeker County 4-H GPS Ear Tag Team

The 2016 4-H Science of Agriculture Challenge statewide event on June 21-23 where 4-H’ers will share their science-based solutions to ag-related issues is fast approaching!

To help build awareness and support for the 2nd annual statewide program and event , we're producing videos about three of the 4-H Science of Agriculture Challenge teams and their research.

This first video in the series is about the Meeker County 4-H Science of Agriculture team’s research to develop a GPS ear tag to monitor livestock in Minnesota. View the video here.

We will be sharing the videos on Extension, Minnesota 4-H and the Minnesota 4-H Foundation’s Facebook and Twitter channels.

Staff are encouraged to share the videos on your county 4-H Facebook pages, with your RDs and county partners, 4-H families and volunteers, and anyone else who may be interested in supporting or participating in the program.

Wendy Huckaby
YD communications manager

New Journal of Youth Development partnership

The Journal of Youth Development: Bridging Research and Practice is pleased to announce a new partnership, new publisher, and a new special issue on character development in youth programs.

The National Association of Extension 4-H Agents (NAE4-HA) has formed a new partnership with the National AfterSchool Association (NAA) to ensure the continued growth and critical quality of the journal. Both associations work in multiple ways to ensure that the best of both research and practice can come together to make a difference for children and young people in the United States. The new partnership doubles the resources invested in the journal annually and will expand its reach, increase opportunities for authors, and open innovative ways for sharing content.

The journal has moved to a searchable, indexed format accessible for youth development scholars and practitioners around the world. Now published by the University Library System, University of Pittsburgh as part of its D-Scribe Digital Publishing Program and cosponsored by the University of Pittsburgh Press, the Journal will dramatically improve access for readers and authors and ensure permanent archives. In the next few months all previous ten volumes of the journal will move to this new site.

The newly released special issue, Promoting Character through Youth Development Programs, was guest edited by Andrea Vest Ettekal, Kristina Schmid Callina, and Richard M. Lerner from the Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development at Tufts University. The 10 feature articles reflect the state-of-the art of the literature linking out-of-school-time activities and character development. The entire volume can be freely accessed here.

Check out the special issue now and remember to become a regular reader by setting your Journal of Youth Development bookmark so you can stay connected moving forward.

Kate Walker
Associate Extension professor

Resources for video makers

If you’re making videos and want to include music, make sure the music you use is legal! In other words, don’t use a song you’ve heard on the radio – that song is surely copyrighted and you can’t use it without paying royalties to the owner -- even if you paid for the download.

Here is a great source of royalty-free music that’s available to all U staff: Audio Blocks.  Its super simple to search for music with the mood you want, then download an MP3 or WAV file and drop it into your video when you edit, just as you would any other sound. There are sound effects like squeaky doors, ukulele music, loops and lots of other fun sounds.

Audio Blocks is part of a suite of multimedia resources available to all U staff, along with still images and video files.  See stock content here.

Reminder: You will also need to caption all videos before sharing them publicly. See my previous article about that here.

Ann Nordby
Online learning and communications

YD in the news

Minnesota 4-H offers Co-op Calf, Co-op Swine projects for youth

For the past eight years, Nobles County has offered its 4-H members — from ages 5 to 19 — a Co-op Calf project. In its inaugural year, they had 18 participants. Read the full article.

Staff news

Southwest Extension educator

Michael Compton will join the southwest region team on May 25, 2016 as an Extension educator, youth development. Michael has experience working with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach in Osceola County as the county youth coordinator, as well as serving as the activities supervisor at Cutty's Okoboji Resort Club.  He has a B.S. degree in secondary social studies education from St. Cloud State University and recently completed his M.A. degree in teaching from Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa.

Michael brings with him strong people skills, experience in supervision, as well as the ability to leverage resources in the community.  His references cited his ability to develop strong programs, work collaboratively to develop effective partnerships, and provide strong leadership to ensure youth and volunteers are engaged in the program.  He has focused his Extension career in working with STEM, however is excited to see how it connects with science of agriculture and builds on the current programs in the southwest region.  Michael will focus his work on the supervision and science of agriculture functions.

Michael can be reached at the Worthington regional office at 507 372-3900 ext. 3910 or via his cell phone at 712 330-2431.

Nancy Hegland
Program leader

Youth worker training: Upcoming training and events

Young teens on campus: Preparing for higher education
May 23, 11:30 a.m. - 1 p.m.

Youth as Assessors
June 15, 11:30 a.m. - 1 p.m.

Quality Matters Online: A self-study
Ongoing

Dilemmas in Youth Work Online: A self-study
Ongoing

Youth Engagement Matters Online: A self-study
Ongoing

Youth Work Matters Online: A self-study
Ongoing

Most training and events are free for 4-H staff. Please use the TXTFREE coupon code when registering. For more information about upcoming classes or to register, visit: www.extension.umn.edu/youth/training-events.
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