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From the director

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Dear YD colleagues,

This time of year, we often find ourselves thinking about what we'd like to accomplish in the new year and making resolutions, both personal and professional.

What is your New Year's resolution in the field of youth development?

Both National 4-H and the Extension Center for Youth Development have talked in a variety of ways about the need to "widen the circle" of 4-H to connect in new and different ways to youth, volunteers, partners and supporters whom we have not connected with before.

How do you think about widening the circle of youth development in your life and work? Will it be through embracing and cultivating new audiences? Learning new youth development skills and practices? Offering new programming or adjusting existing programming in your county or region?

I am excited to see the wonderful ways you all work to widen your circles over the next year!


Dorothy McCargo Freeman

Associate dean & state 4-H director

The New York Times ran an opinion piece this week that contained some criticisms of schools' attempts to integrate social and emotional learning, saying "critics worry that the increasing focus on qualities like grit will distract policy makers from problems with schools."

Dale Blyth has weighed in about the value of social and emotional learning, both with a comment on the NYT piece, and with an extended version of that comment as a new post on our own Youth Development Insight blog.

I would encourage any of you with a expertise or interest in social and emotional learning to weigh in, either on the New York Times or on Youth Development Insight. Doing so increases your online profile, and benefits the center by publicizing our work. If you do comment on the New York Times, I hope you will mention the Extension Center for Youth Development and/or provide a link to a relevant web page, and let me know so I can brag about you, too.

Ann Nordby

YD web manager

During the past few months, the staff development team has identified the staff development offerings available for internal program staff, as well as the best time to take the trainings in your career. This catalog is arranged using the 4-H Professional Research Knowledge Competencies (PRKC), which fits well with the 4-H PRKC self-assessment, which all program staff were asked to complete in December, 2013. Under each PRKC area, you will notice the trainings that fit this competency, title of training and the program description, optimum time to complete the training, dates it is currently being offered, and who provides the training. This peer-reviewed catalog will be a helpful tool as you develop your plan of work for 2015, specifically in identifying staff/professional development needs and opportunities. This document can be found on the YD Intranet at

Staff development team: Sherry Boyce, Nancy Hegland, Josey Landrieu, Amber Shanahan, Trisha Sheehan, and Eric Vogel

Jan. 27, 2015 2 - 3:30 p.m. Eastern
Adobe Connect log-in:
(Note: Sound will be through your computer speakers--voice over IP)


  • Dr. Pamela Larson-Nippolt, evaluation and research specialist, University of Minnesota Extension
  • Dr. Dale Blyth, Howland Endowed Chair in youth leadership development, and a senior research fellow, Center for Applied Research & Educational Improvement, College of Education and Human Development, University of Minnesota
  • Judy Ratkos, Retired senior program leader, Michigan State University Extension 4-H Youth Development
Data related to youth program and educational involvement can be used in creative and focused ways to tell a powerful story about 4-H participants and the 4-H program model. We will illustrate how data helped us to connect existing data to new data sources to learn that 4-H youth are "better off" academically- 4-Hers in our studies attend school more regularly, show higher achievement on standardized tests, graduate high school at higher rates, and enroll in postsecondary programs more often when compared to young people who are not 4-H participants. Join us for this national conversation as we present study results, identify creative uses of data, and chart a course of action to understand 4-H participants and to demonstrate the impact of 4-H participation through data. We will also provide resources and lessons learned by the co-presenters.

Three educational objectives:

  1. Participants will increase their understanding of how data is helping 4-H organizations in Michigan and Minnesota to manage, learn, improve and show impact.
  2. Participants will identify opportunities to make the case for 4-H by using existing program and public data.
  3. Participants will engage in discussion and reflection with colleagues and national leaders to consider action to expand this approach in their states.
Pam Larson Nippolt
Evaluation & research specialist

M4-HAVA conference

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Registration for the 2015 Minnesota 4-H Adult Volunteer Association (M4-HAVA) conference is now available online. The theme for this year's conference is "4-H Ties it Together." Developed to expand the knowledge and skills of 4-H volunteers and give leaders new ideas for 4-H projects, with workshop topics ranging from beekeeping to quilting to gardening and caring for pigeons. The conference will take place at the Best Western in Willmar, Minnesota, Feb. 19-21. Early bird rate for M4-HAVA members is $124, including all meals for all three dates, and must be postmarked by Jan. 10. Regular rate for members is $140 (nonmembers, $175).

Molly Frendo

State program director, volunteer systems

Citizenship Washington Focus

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Do you have questions about Citizenship Washington Focus? All information can be found on the 4-H events web page.

The 2015 Citizenship Washington Focus is available for up to 50 young people to participate. The pre-conference in Minnesota begins on June 20, after which participants embark on a charter bus trip to Washington D.C. Youth delegates will return to Minnesota the evening of June 27.

Pre-application materials are available now on the web page. Please note that full registration and chaperone materials will be available on the web page beginning Feb. 17. Selection for this experience is first-come, first-served. Please contact Judith A. Conway, with any questions.

If you have an interest in serving as a lead staff for Citizenship Washington Focus, please contact Judith Conway.

Judith A. Conway

Educator educator and assistant professor

National 4-H Conference

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It is never too early to start thinking about your Minnesota 4-H older youth who would be a great youth delegate for the 2016 National 4-H Conference. Check out the 2015 National 4-H Conference online. (Please note that dates, age requirements, and post-conference expectations will change for 2016).

Updated material for 2016 National 4-H Conference will be on this web site beginning in September 2015. Contact Judith A. Conway at with any questions.

Judith A. Conway

Educator educator and assistant professor

Staff news

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  • 4-H and Aquatic Robotics

    Brian McNeill, Patrick Jirik and Bradley Rugg have published an article in the December 2014 Journal of Extension. This article shares how Minnesota is engaging youth and adults to identify and solve community issues with the use of an aquatic remotely operated vehicle (ROV). After creating a new program design, the team has attracted new skilled volunteers and new youth to create youth-adult partnerships to take action in the community. Read the full article.

  • Welcome back Tammy Lorch!

    Tammy Lorch rejoined the University of Minnesota Extension as an Extension educator in youth development on Jan. 5, 2015. Tammy was an Extension educator in 4-H Youth Development from 2005-2007, and has experience working in the field of youth and family ministry in several churches as well. Most recently, Tammy was the Ready to Learn specialist for Iowa Public Television. Tammy has a Bachelor of Science degree in elementary education from Wartburg College, in Waverly Iowa and a Masters of Educator in family education from the University of Minnesota.

    Tammy has a strong interest in engagement and working with others to provide opportunities for youth and adults to grow. She will work with colleagues in the southeast region, focusing on youth program quality and regional program planning with an evaluative lens.

    Tammy is highly organized and can develop systems to work more efficiently. She is a strong programmer and enjoys working in a team environment.

    Tammy office is located at the Mankato Regional Office. Her email address is Her office phone number is 507-389-6660 and her cell number is 507-951-3948.

Nancy Hegland
Program leader

YD in the news

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  • Backus woman makes big difference for Cass County 4-H'ers

    Cass County's Barbara Frederick isn't your ordinary 4-H volunteer. She does way more than just help: She has made it her mission to make sure kids get to go to the State Fair even if they can't afford it. Read the full article.

  • 4-H youth demonstrate 'Learning Unleashed'

    Two Itasca County 4-H LEGO robotics teams participated in the MN First Lego League's Regional Qualifying tournament on Dec. 13. Fourteen teams from across Koochiching, Beltrami, Itasca, and northern St. Louis counties participated in the tournament. Read the full article.

Quality Matters Online: A self study

Leadership Matters Online
Feb. 9 - March 3
Explore the key issues in supervision and leadership of youth work organizations. Online activities include both synchronized group time and individual self-paced learning. This is a cohort-based, professional development opportunity for youth work supervisors in which the participants learn, apply and share the information together. Register and learn more.

Dilemmas in Youth Work Online
Feb.16, - March 20
Youth workers face challenging situations that require them to address multiple, often competing considerations in their daily work with young people. Dig into the sticky challenges and issues of youth work and examine various ways to respond to real-life dilemmas of everyday practice. Online activities include both synchronized group time and individual self-paced learning. Register and learn more.

Mentorship (re)explained...
March 11
We will pull apart some myths, as well as look at the latest research and best practices in an interactive and thought-provoking session that will challenge the way you think about mentoring. Participants will gain knowledge about mentorship to help strengthen current programs and/or develop a new program. Register and learn more.

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.

Save the date for the spring public symposium on May 15!
More details to come.

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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