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From the director

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Dear YD colleagues,

During this time of year, we pause, reflect and give thanks for all we have to be grateful for in our lives.

The Youth Development leadership team and I want to let you know how thankful we are for you, and our commitment to creating an environment in which all of our staff can thrive.

Over this last year, we embarked on a process to work with you in identifying strategies and solutions to accomplish that goal. We wanted to begin by talking with you and capturing your ideas about the opportunities for improvement identified in the employee engagement survey.

Here are some of the key things that we heard you tell us were important:

  • Workload balance is a critical challenge that needs to be addressed.
  • Staff want to have more voice and influence in the organization and their work.
  • Support and resources for professional development is needed.
  • More and improved communications are desired (between teams, regions, and from leadership).
  • Salary ranges and promotion ladders need to be explored.
  • Additional training and mentoring is needed on the use of Quickbooks for managing federation/council finances.
  • A simplified or reduced number of 4-H enrollment forms is desired.
The YDLT is exploring the solutions that were suggested by staff, and are taking action on a few items:
  • The Minnesota 4-H Program Planning Guide, which includes processes for sunsetting work and is one method of reducing workload, was highlighted in a previous issue of YD Update and was added as a reference to Growing Opportunities Together: Volunteers in Vision and Action (GOT:VIVA).
  • A specific request regarding communications was made for talking points on the strategic plan, targets and program priorities. Communications Manager Wendy Huckaby has put together key messages that staff can use in local communications and as talking points when working with key stakeholders. (See separate article with more information.)
  • An educator with the operations function is learning to utilize Quickbooks and is testing a process for guiding staff on the use of Quickbooks as well as reviewing and improving county financial practices generally.
  • Starting salaries of program coordinators have been adjusted and methods of addressing the compression issues are being studied.
These are just the first steps in the process. The YDLT will continue to address issues identified by seeking input and building strategies into its workplan for next year. YD program leaders will be reviewing the detailed information from each of the regional meetings to identify themes across our organization, and continue working with regional teams to identify strategies specific to each region's needs.

The YDLT will continue to provide updates on actions and progress at the leadership-team level and from regions as work develops.

I hope you all enjoy the holiday.


Dorothy McCargo Freeman

Associate dean & state 4-H director

Key messages have been developed on Youth Development's 5-year strategic plan, targets and program priorities that staff can use in local communications and as talking points when working with key stakeholders.

The messages are available in the communications section of the YD intranet.

An additional document with general messages about the benefits and impact of out-of-school time programming and the Minnesota 4-H program is also available.

YD fact sheets which include many of these key messages are also available on the following topics:

  • General 4-H
  • General youth development
  • Arts-In
  • Citizenship & leadership
  • County Ambassador pilot
  • Diversity and inclusion shared learning cohort
  • Grow 4-H
  • Healthy living
  • Operation Military Kids
  • Research studies
  • Rube Goldberg Challenge
  • Science of agriculture
  • Social & emotional learning (SEL)
  • STEM
  • STEM engineering design
  • Volunteer systems
  • Youth program quality
  • Youth worker training
Wendy Huckaby
YD communications manager

Extension's brand resources on the intranet have been reorganized to make it easier for staff to explore and use all of the templates, training and other resources available.

The new section "Applying the Brand" includes a section called "Training and Samples."

Under the "Samples" tab, you'll find examples of how the branding templates have been used across Extension for educational and program marketing materials. The goal is to help staff see how to correctly use the templates, which have design elements already built for headers, body copy and other layout elements.

Under the "Training" tab, you'll find short 1-3 minute videos with step-by-step directions on how to use the templates. Short text versions of the directions are also available there.

Topics include:

  • Insert and place pictures
  • Resize pictures
  • Apply quick styles to text
  • Create columns
  • Insert and format charts/tables/graphs
  • Convert Word to PDF
The following recordings of 4-H brand training webinars are also located there and available for staff who were unable to participate or want to refresh their skills:
Wendy Huckaby
YD communications manager

The first year of an event is exciting! Reflecting on the process of program design, youth experience, success stories and unexpected challenges is an opportunity to ask ourselves where we can invest our time and resources to make our program stronger.

The final report of the 'Engineer It' workshop was designed by the state STEM team and implemented across Minnesota during the past 12 months by staff, volunteers and youth leaders. I encourage you to review the report, the data collected, ideas learned and recommendations for future events. The report is available on the YD Intranet here. If you have any questions regarding the report please contact me via email ( or telephone (763-482-1323).

If you see an opportunity for improvement or collaboration I ask that you share it with us.

Acknowledgements: Report compiled by Mark Haugen and Sherry Boyce, Extension educators.

Mark Haugen

Extension educator

Professional development funds

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During this fiscal year, the Center for Youth Development allocated all of our professional development funds towards our program staff attending the 2014 NAE4-HA Conference. This was a great opportunity for learning, as well as for our staff to work together. This also means that there are not additional professional development funds for program staff to attend professional development opportunities during this fiscal year, unless the funds are allocated from another budget source. If you do plan to attend another professional development conference this fiscal year, please contact your direct supervisor to discuss other possible funding sources. Several individuals have been successful in obtaining funds from outside of the professional development budget to support their attendance at conferences. We are also working with the Minnesota 4-H Foundation to secure funding that may be available for professional development this year.

Nancy Hegland

Program leader

The 2014 Fall/Winter edition of Extension's Source Magazine is now available, and features stories about how 4-H is reaching the diverse and changing populations of youth across Minnesota.

The stories highlight the 4-H on Wheels program in Kandiyohi County, and the Franklin Library 4-H club and Ka Joog 4-H STEM program in Hennepin County.

Staff are encouraged to read these stories and share them with 4-H families, partners and other supporters in your community to show the important role 4-H plays in preparing all youth in Minnesota to learn, lead, and contribute, and help Minnesota communities thrive.

You can find the article on Extension's web site here.

Wendy Huckaby

YD communications manager

Minnesota 4-H Foundation news

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  • Endowment acknowledgement forms due Nov. 30

    This reminder is for all county 4-H programs that hold endowment(s) with the Minnesota 4-H Foundation. Endowment acknowledgement forms are due to our office by Nov. 30. Please make every effort to submit your form(s) in a timely manner, which helps us steward your funds effectively. If you did not receive your annual endowment report, or have misplaced your acknowledgement form, please contact Erin Kelly-Collins ( for assistance.

  • Minnesota 4-H Week of Thanks: Nov 20-27

    If you're on Facebook or Twitter, please join us in supporting our Week of Thanks, celebrating the positive impact Minnesota 4-H has had on our lives.

    Here's how: Beginning today, tweet or post on social media what about 4-H you're thankful for using the hashtags #ThankYou and #MN4H. If you can, include a picture of yourself holding the sign shown here using the same hashtags.

    You can download the sign here:

    Anyone who supports 4-H can do this - you don't have to be a member or alumnus. Can you ask your club members, program staff and anyone connected to 4-H to do it too? Send them the link or print out some copies of the sign and put them out in your office for people to use.

Erin Kelly-Collins
Minnesota 4-H Foundation

Staff news

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2015 National 4-H Conference youth leadership team

Congratulations is extended to Jacquie Lonning, citizenship & leadership state program director, for being selected to serve as the advisor for the National 4-H youth leadership team. I feel assured that Jacquie will mentor the young people well while encouraging them to stretch beyond their current capabilities.

Dorothy McCargo Freeman

Associate dean & state 4-H director

Quality Matters Online: A self study

Youth Engagement Matters
Dec. 9, 2014

Youth Work Matters Online
Introductory week: Jan. 12-18, 2015
Course content: Jan. 19 - Feb. 15, 2015
Live webinars: Dates TBD

Changing Adolescent Healthy Living Behavior through Mentoring
Jan. 14, 2015
Online (Brown bag webinar series)

Leadership Matters Online
Introductory week: Feb. 9-16, 2015
Course content: Feb. 9-March 3, 2015
Live webinars: Feb. 17, 24 & March 3, 2015 (hours for each webinar are 9:30-11 a.m. (CST))

Dilemmas in Youth Work Online
Feb. 16 - March 20, 2015
Course content: Feb. 23-March 20
Live webinars: Feb. 23, March 9 & 20, 2015 (hours for each webinar are 11:30 a.m. - 1 p.m. (CST))

Most training and events are free for 4-H staff. Please use the TXTFREE promo code when registering. For more information about upcoming classes or to register, visit:

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