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January 2012 Archives

Where do culture and research meet?


Josey-Landrieu.jpgI'm part of a large research team working with Latino youth who participate in community-based after-school programs. Among other things we want to understand how culture might impact the experiences of young people in youth programs, especially Latino youth.

I find myself reflecting on two things. First, what is the impact or relationship between culture and the program experience of the participants? And second, where do culture and research meet? In other words, how does culture influence not only the experience of the youth but also how does it affect our research process? How is culture part of our work?

Problem youth or problem adults?


Cecilia-Gran.jpgHave you ever heard of the word "ephebiphobia?" I hadn't until I ran into it when I was looking for information on the subject of youth rights. It means the fear and loathing of adolescents and it results in an "irrational, exaggerated, and sensational characterization of young people"

Coined by Kirk Astroth, a 4-H outreach agent in Montana, today ephebiphobia is recognized as a major issue in youth engagement throughout society. Sociologists, government agencies, educators, and youth advocacy organizations use the word to describe any loathing, paranoia, or fear of young people or of that time of life called "youth".

Fostering positive youth development in nature spaces


Rebecca-Meyer.jpgIn his book Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder, Richard Louv used the term "nature-deficit disorder" to describe the alarming lack of connection between American youth and their natural environments. Other researchers have documented the multiple ways this nature-disconnect is contributing to negative outcomes for children. An article in the popular Sports Illustrated describes Americans as becoming "indoor people".

Today, lots of nature program efforts are focused on this "nature-deficit." However, I wonder how we can make the most of these beneficial nature settings for youth. How can we use nature settings or nature spaces to cultivate positive youth development?

Developing career pathways for youth workers


Thumbnail image for nextgen-main-logo.jpgThere is a perpetual discussion in the youth work field about how to create career pathways and other growth opportunities for staff working in youth programs. We have perhaps millions of people employed across the country in a variety of youth programs ranging from before and after school to out- of-school time to youth development to summer programs and camps. Most of these jobs are part-time, and if they are full-time, the pay is low to moderate and growth opportunities are limited. How do we create more growth opportunities for youth workers? What pathways might we develop to help youth workers pursue a career in the field?

Beyond boring data


Samantha-Grant.jpgBy now, we are all convinced of the importance of doing evaluation of our programs. I hope we've all begun to collect data to inform our stakeholders and ourselves about how our programs are doing. I have blogged about practical evaluation in youth programs, and the theme of evaluation has been echoed by others in their posts.

Let's assume that you are collecting and analyzing data about your program -- what next? I argue that you must put in as much effort in communicating data as you did in collecting it.

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