Dear YD colleagues,
Last week I attended the 2015 National 4-H Leadership meeting. This year's theme was, "Growing 4-H's Reach and Relevance by Strengthening Our Work Together." The focus was on how 4-H program leaders, National 4-H Headquarters and National 4-H Council can work together to be more successful and innovative as we retain our base and engage more young people in 4-H.
Over the three days, we worked on strengthening relationships and communications amongst leaders of 4-H at state and national levels; identifying compelling opportunities of national importance to 4-H to chart a course for deploying individual and collective power; and developing an implementation consensus plan to align with roles, reduce barriers and increase incentives in order to fulfill the compelling national opportunities.
One of the important issues we identified was "Inclusivity: to overcome institutional structures and systems to diversify programs which reflect the demographics in each state."
This issue is one we are already working on as one of the three targets we identified in the Extension Center for Youth Development's five-year strategic plan.
In response to this national effort, the north central program leaders have organized a planning team to develop the 1st Generation 4-H Strategic Planning Retreat: "Engaging First Generation 4-H Youth and Families." Each state has been asked to identify a team of 3-4 individuals to participate in the retreat in April. The group will work together to examine how we are (and aren't) prepared organizationally to successfully engage these new audiences.
The objectives are:
- To create a foundation of understanding that we all have bias that influences how we make sense of and engage in the world.
- To provide a "no blame" framework for recognizing and expecting bias - we have hard wired attitudes in our subconscious that exist and may work against our explicit beliefs and attitudes.
- To experience that implicit bias can be influenced and changed through active reflection and new experiences.
- Identify a shared purpose regarding the initiative.
- Articulate their personal and organizational values, biases and stakes in the issue.
- Understand the challenge more deeply and from multiple perspectives - What is the current state of the work in our region/states?
- Identify, and commit to, specific experiments (individually and collectively) to make progress on the challenge.
This important effort by National 4-H provides an exciting opportunity to examine how we can make progress on the critical goal of engaging new youth in 4-H, in Minnesota and across the country.
We will provide updates and share progress on this effort as it develops.
Associate dean & state 4-H director