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September 2012 Archives

Build your evaluation muscle to use it effectively in the program

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Pamela-Nippolt.jpgJust when you thought that your youth program was doing well to DO evaluation at all, we evaluators want you to USE it, too! What does it take to make the report, and the entire evaluation process, an integral part of a youth organizations' everyday work?

I've learned that building capacity to use evaluation does not depend on having a lot of fancy bells and whistles. My experiences in the reporting stage of evaluation work with youth-serving organizations have taught me that successful use of evaluation has little to do with slick reports and branded slide presentations. It is more about the right people coming together to roll up their sleeves around the findings and lessons.

Opening doors with a global mind-set


Jessica-Russo.jpgFor young people entering a 21st century workforce, a global mind-set is not only important. It is vital to their healthy, happy development.

What is a global mind-set, and how do we cultivate this in young people who, like adults, gravitate towards the familiar?

Gupta and Govindarajan describe a global mind-set as an awareness and openness to diversity combined with a tendency and ability to integrate new knowledge and experiences across cultures. I like to think of a global mind-set in terms of the doors it opens. A global mind-set allows for healthy encounters with others representing diverse cultures, races, ages, gender, religions, lifestyles, and viewpoints. And a global mind-set allows these encounters to penetrate our experience in a way that encourages us to expand the way we think and act, combining old and new ways of going about the world.

Who are the branches on your learning tree?

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Dale-Blyth.jpgAs fall starts, three unrelated events have caused me to wonder about how well we know and support our children's learning throughout their lives.

Event 1: Last night I was playing around on and saw my family tree filling in before me. I learned things about my family tree that I hadn't known before.

Event 2: My oldest granddaughter starts school this fall and her parents decided to home school her for kindergarten. Where are my son and his wife going to find 30 hours a week to devote to her learning and development, I wondered? Thinking about this made me realize just how much work it takes to be a teacher and how much time and support they give our children. Upon reflection, I am excited by the new opportunities that role can provide and my roles as a grandparent in helping her find joy in learning and develop the skills so essential in life.

Event 3: The Minnesota State Fair ended last weekend and with it all the 4-H projects and ribbons, summer camps and myriad other summer learning opportunities young people have. As always, 4-H learning was very much in evidence at the fair.

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