Dear YD colleagues,
As we approach the end of the year, I want to take a moment to celebrate and thank you for the wonderful work you have done to provide positive youth development for Minnesota youth. I also want to update you on plans to engage you in helping shape where the Center for Youth Development is headed in the coming years.
Since we launched our new staffing structure a little over a year ago, regional and statewide teams have been working hard, exploring new ways of working together that leverage team members' skills and abilities, and developing and implementing plans based on regional and statewide needs. During our time to gather with Youth Development educators and state program staff at fall conference, staff shared highlights of new teams progressing in their work together, new partnerships, professional development goals achieved, and accomplishments in work/life balance, such as fun vacations, travel, and home projects.
At fall conference, I also shared our vision for future work in the Center for Youth Development. That vision included a continuing commitment to the priority areas of program quality and volunteer systems, which provide the infrastructure that will help us achieve our goals across all of our work, as well as the content areas of Citizenship & Leadership, Science of Agriculture (formerly known as Animal Science), Youth Worker Training and STEM.
One area I highlighted was the decision by the Youth Development Leadership Team to increase our investment and focus in STEM over the next few years, including a new emphasis on engineering. Only 5% of American students get their undergraduate degree in science and engineering compared to 66% of Japanese and 59% of Chinese students. We know engaging youth in STEM at an early age increases the likelihood of their continued interest and study in STEM. 4-H has taken up the challenge to help equip youth with the STEM skills they need to compete in the 21st century.
Engineering design is a perfect fit with 4-H's hands-on experiential model, and a logical next step in our STEM efforts. Science is learning about the world, while engineering design involves solving a problem. Both require identifying and researching questions or problems, and determining and implementing a plan to answer the question or design a solution.
You'll be hearing more from the statewide 4-H STEM team in the coming months about their planning as it progresses and opportunities for staff to participate in piloting efforts next year. In the meantime, please continue with the great STEM work that you have already been doing in your counties. There are no expectations for staff to include these newly emerging STEM content areas in next year's plans of work.
You will also hear more in the coming months about webinars we plan to hold for educators and program coordinators about Youth Development's vision and goals for the future. Our intent is to provide opportunities for engagement and dialogue about the vision, and benefit from your insight and ideas about how we could achieve our vision in counties and regions.
I look forward to working with you as we continue to make our vision for the Center for Youth Development a reality. Have a wonderful holiday with your family members and friends.
Associate dean & state 4-H director