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Thursday, March 19, 2015

From the director

Dear YD colleagues,

I want to inform you about a significant and unfortunate change in our delivery of Operation: Military Kids programming.

Nationwide funding for the current Operation: Military Kids (OMK) contract expires on March 31, 2015.  As a result, the Minnesota OMK program delivered by the Extension 4-H program will end after March 2015.

OMK is funded by the Department of the Army, Army National Guard and Army Reserve. They are currently working on transitioning the OMK program to meet the changing needs of Guard and Reserve military families nationwide.

Fortunately, there are other resources and programs available to support Minnesota military families. Please refer to the article in 4-H Admin Weekly for details.

Extension 4-H began its partnership with Operation: Military Kids in October 2005, and has been proud to deliver quality programming to support military youth and families in Minnesota through youth and family camps in partnership with the Beyond the Yellow Ribbon programming, Family Readiness groups, unit events and educational programs to schools, community organizations and businesses.

As OMK moves through its changes, and future funding and programming possibilities evolve over the coming months, we will provide new information as it becomes available.

Please feel free to share this information with any military families or groups that you have worked with in your area, and contact Amber Greeley, Minnesota OMK Program Specialist & 4-H Military Liaison, with any questions or concerns at

I would like to thank Amber and Kia Harries for their leadership in supporting and delivering this valuable programming over the last 10 years.  Your work has made an important difference in the lives of Minnesota's military youth and families.


Dorothy McCargo Freeman
Associate dean & state 4-H director

YD evaluation tips: 2015 data scavenger hunt!

First off, a great big thanks to everyone who participated in our first ever data scavenger hunt!

Here are the “Data Scavenger Hunt Champions” for last month:

Erin Kelly-Collins was first to answer the bonus question correctly, and Jeremy Freeman is our grand prize winner who got both the question and bonus question correct! Congratulations, and you may now commence with your bragging rights. We had 5 people participate in total – thanks everyone!!

The great majority of YD’s data can be found on the program evaluation and research section of the YD intranet. The answer to last month’s question can be found in the 2013 county ES-237 reports on the 4-H data collection tab. The answer to the bonus question can be found in the April 2014 regional reports on the reports tab

Again, here’s how the challenge goes. For each Eval Tip in 2015, we will ask you to find certain data that has been uploaded to the YD Intranet. Post your answer as a comment, and the first person to get it right wins. Really, everyone who participates is a winner!

For this month, we are going to explore some data from 4-H seniors to see what they are up to after they graduate from high school. In the comments, answer the following question(s):
  • What are 4-H youth doing after high school? In a survey administered to 2013 4-H seniors, what percentage of youth are pursuing higher education? Working? Volunteering? In the military? (Note that these groups are not mutually exclusive.)
  • Bonus Question: The number you will find for the percentage of youth survey respondents in higher education will differ from the percentage of all 4-H seniors who attended a post-secondary institution. What percentage of all 4-H seniors attended a post-secondary institution? (This info comes from the National Student Clearinghouse and can be found in the same report.)
  • If you are feeling like a data overachiever today, you should also let us know what you think are the most interesting findings in this report.
Good luck and make haste! As always, please leave a comment if you have any questions.

Siri Scott
Program evaluation team

“Childhood Obesity Prevention Strategies for Rural Communities” tool kit now available

YD Assistant Dean Jennifer Skuza was invited to serve as an expert reviewer for Nemours “Childhood Obesity Prevention Strategies for Rural Communities,” a child obesity prevention tool kit.

Nemours is an internationally recognized children’s health system that owns and operates the Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Delaware, and Nemours Children’s Hospital in Orlando, along with major pediatric specialty clinics in Delaware, Florida, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Established as The Nemours Foundation through the legacy and philanthropy of Alfred I. duPont, Nemours offers pediatric clinical care, research, education, advocacy and prevention programs to families in the communities it serves.

Nemours developed this toolkit in 2014 to provide examples of obesity prevention initiatives and strategies in rural communities to help advance the field and spread what works.

The Minnesota 4-H Children, Youth & Families At Risk project is highlighted on p. 28 of the toolkit.  The feature describes how the CYFAR project is an example of how nutrition and physical activity can be successfully integrated into any out-of-school time experience, and the ways in which each CYFAR program site empowers youth to craft individual education plans that incorporate nutrition and physical activity principles.

The toolkit is available as a resource for YD staff, and provides a range of science-informed, promising or emerging obesity prevention strategies to address childhood obesity in rural communities.

2015 M4-HAVA Conference: 4-H Ties it All Together

The annual Minnesota 4-H Adult Volunteer Association conference was held in Willmar on Feb. 20-21. This year’s theme was 4-H Ties it All Together. Participants enjoyed a variety of workshops and comradery with new and familiar friends. At the annual awards luncheon, the Blue Ribbon Award recipients were honored. The following clubs, counties, and individual volunteers were recognized for their excellence:

Club Awards
  • Clever Clovers, Big Stone County
  • Eager Beavers, Big Stone County
  • North Star, Chisago County
  • Soaring Eagles, Chisago County
  • Mayville Blue Ribbon Strivers, Houston County
  • St. John's Roadrunners, Kandiyohi County
  • Busy Bees, Mille Lacs County
  • Hegne Hustlers, Norman County
County Awards
  • Big Stone County
  • Fillmore County
  • Lac Qui Parle County
  • Norman County
Adult Volunteer Awards
  • Cora Greger, Big Stone County
  • Laurie Stromsodt, Marshall County
  • Judy Hible, Mille Lacs County
Outstanding Adult Volunteer Awards
  • Gwen Frazier, Goodhue County
  • Cathy Steinmetz, Nobles County
  • Steve Vrchota, Sherburne County
Please join us in extending our appreciation and congratulations to these groups and individuals for their outstanding service!

Molly Frendo
State program director, volunteer systems

4-H Clubs in Houston County and Swift County receive 2015 Community Youth Leadership Award

We all know a sense of community is important to the health of our counties, and that teaching youth the value of community is a skill that Minnesota’s county commissioners feel is critical in facing the challenges of the future.

That’s why each year the Association of Minnesota Counties (AMC) recognizes outstanding 4-H community youth leadership projects in Minnesota. These projects must be organized by a recognized 4-H club and engage a large segment of the 4-H members in that club. The AMC Extension committee reviews the applications and selects projects that responded to real community needs.

This year one of the two awards went to the Mayville Blue Ribbon Strivers from Houston County for their “Houston County Food Shelf Garden Project.” The 4-H club members built garden boxes for a food shelf.  They filled them with soil, planted a variety of vegetables, tended them throughout the season and finally harvested 267 pounds of fresh produce which fed 1000 people.  Through the project the 4-H’ers learned carpentry skills, gardening basics and how to make a difference in their community.

The second award went to the Swift Falls Winners 4-H Club from Swift County for their “Swift Falls Park Playground Renovation Project.” The club members raised $25,000 to replace the outdated and unsafe playground equipment in the Swift Falls County Park.  Storms had deteriorated the park and the small rural community did not have funds to make the improvements. The club prepared the site for the new equipment; constructed and installed the playground including cement and sand work.  After it was completed they held a communitywide free celebration supper in recognition of the work. The 4-H’ers stated that they learned how to work together, brainstorm ideas and improve their skills in financial planning, writing, organization, teamwork, responsibility, meeting deadlines, efficiency, and community pride.

Several members of both clubs and their leaders attended an awards banquet in St. Paul on March 4 to receive the awards before an audience of nearly 300 county officials and staff from across Minnesota during the AMC’s annual Legislative Conference.

AMC is a voluntary statewide organization of Minnesota’s 87 counties that helps provide effective county governance to the people of Minnesota.  Through intergovernmental relations, communications and education, AMC seeks to improve the operation of Minnesota’s county governments and the services that counties provide to their citizens.

4-H Quality Coaches Training April 16-17

4-H Quality Coaches Training will be held April 16 (10 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.) and April 17 (8:30 a.m. – 3 p.m.) on the St. Paul Campus.  If you have not attended this training yet - now is your chance!

Register now.

Class Description:
Improving program quality is a part of our daily business in 4-H and must happen at all levels.  The statewide team on program quality offers a two-day training to help prepare staff to assess, plan and coach local programming in regions and counties.  This class will help staff define quality at the point of service (where young people and adults meet inside of a program) and how to use the Youth Program Quality Assessment (YPQA) tool to assess youth program quality with a local team of youth and volunteers. Participants will learn how to use observational methods, score and report to your local programs, and facilitate an action plan for improving quality. The YPQA is a nationally recognized observational measurement tool that provides a valid and reliable way to assess program quality.

How it works:
  • Review the basics of the observational method.
  • View video to score a YPQA.
  • Teach the discovery and action planning process.
What you’ll have when you walk away:
  • Deepen your understanding of the research on program quality and the YPQA tool.
  • Prepare to use the YPQA as a self-assessment method to assess, plan and improve.
  • Review the resources available to support this work locally.

Deborah Moore
Youth Work Learning Lab

Youth worker training: Upcoming training and events

Quality Matters Online: A self study
Learn about the essential components of a high-quality youth program and how to create environments that are positive places for young people to develop. In this basics class, participants will learn about the current research that helps us define quality and begin understanding how to measure and improve it.

Youth Work Regional Forum
Social and Emotional Learning: From understanding to action

April 23
Regional forums are designed to bring the latest research on youth development to communities and make a difference in the understanding of what we do and need to do with youth.

This forum will include:
  • Keynote speakers: Dr. Dale Blyth and Kate Walker
  • Social and Emotional Learning: From understanding to action
  • Lunch and networking
  • Breakout workshops

Exploring 4-H: Hands-on Science
May 13
It has been found that youth who participate in science activities outside the classroom are more likely to become comfortable with science. If you are looking for some fun hands-on science, engineering and technology related activities this webinar will provide you with lesson plans and resources to enhance the programming of new and experienced staff or volunteers. Register and learn more.

Youth Programs as Powerful Settings for Social and Emotional Learning
May 15
Reed Larson, Lisa Bouillion Diaz and Natalie Rusk
This symposium focuses on promoting social and emotional learning in youth program settings. You'll learn about and discuss recent, path-breaking research on how youth learn skills such as strategic thinking and emotional management, and what strategies experienced leaders use to facilitate this development. Register and learn more.

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:

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