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It's hard to believe, but we are approaching the one-year mark of our new Extension county 4-H web pages! During the past year, we have focused on informing and training staff on how to use this great new communications tool to keep our 4-H members, families and volunteers up to date on what's happening in 4-H in their county.

Our next area of focus is to improve the content of our county 4-H web pages. In order for the county 4-H web pages to be a useful resource for Extension audiences, it is important to ensure that there is current and complete content on the web pages.

An example of what "current and complete" web content looks like for 4-H is that all articles and information shared in the monthly Clover Update county newsletters SHOULD ALSO be put on the county 4-H web page as individual articles or events. (NOTE: One monthly article posting the Clover Update to the web page does not meet the expectation of current and complete information, or represent best practices of what an Extension web page visitor would expect from a web site.)

Content from monthly Clover Update newsletters can be used "as is" on county 4-H web pages. County support staff are responsible for proofing, formatting and uploading content onto the county 4-H web pages. It takes approximately 5-10 minutes to upload one article to the web page (as staff become more comfortable and experienced uploading content, it will take less time.) Program coordinators are responsible for providing the content to be used in Clover Update newsletters and on County 4-H web pages, and ensuring its accuracy.

Now that we have the new county 4-H web pages, questions have been raised about whether the monthly Clover Update newsletters will continue. For now, our focus is on fully implementing the county 4-H web pages. Staff should continue to maintain and deliver information using all of their current communications tools (county web pages, Clover Update newsletters, 4-H Online, e-mail, etc.) Once the county 4-H web pages have been determined to be fully implemented with current and complete content in the new year, we will look at possible implications for the newsletter and other communications tools.

We are currently developing additional resources, training and tools to help support and guide staff in improving content on the county 4-H web pages. One strategy we are exploring is having a state staff person upload state articles to all county 4-H web pages. We are currently figuring out the process and will communicate more later this month.

Watch 4-H Admin Weekly for additional resources and training opportunities. Contact YD web manager Ann Nordby with any questions.

Wendy Huckaby

YD communications manager


The Diversity and Inclusion Shared Learning Cohort is excited to share its 7 short films on our culture and diversity research page. These films were part of a digital media campaign created by the cohort and are available for staff and public viewing. Video topics include building partnerships across cultures, culturally responsive youth-adult partnerships, serving youth with disabilities, religious inclusion and working with immigrant youth. Please also stay tuned for written educational pieces that will accompany each of the short films.

You can view the videos here. Feel free to share the link with volunteers, partners, and other stakeholders.

Josey Landrieu

Assistant Extension professor


Note: The Youth Development learning technologies team uses this blog to educate colleagues on distance learning technologies which helps increase staff interest, knowledge and skills though ideas and tools to facilitate 21st century teaching and learning.

Last year I presented How (NOT) to Teach Online as a "lightning talk" at a conference. I had a little fun with putting a spin on tips for teaching in online learning environments. After the presentation I had requests to share it as a resource and decided to create a recorded presentation.

The recorded presentation takes a humorous look at tips for teaching in online environments. Many of us are experiencing the emergence of technology into our teaching environments - but are we prepared? How do we think about teaching online when our backgrounds are based on face-to-face environments?

Maybe this spin on how (not) to teach online will generate some ideas for you. It is just under seven minutes! I'd love to hear your thoughts on the top 10! What did I miss?

Please view the recorded presentation on our blog:
ydtechbytesblog.blogspot.com

Kari Robideau

Associate Extension professor, distance learning technologies


In addition to the nearly 300 people who attended our public symposium on social and emotional learning last week in person, more than 100 attended online. Our webinars offer these professional development experiences to youth workers and others from across Minnesota and elsewhere who can't make it to campus to attend.

Each of our webinars is recorded. So if you couldn't make it last week, you can still watch the Howland Symposium on our website. It is being edited into seven separate videos, which will be added to the "Assess it to Address It" web page by the end of this week.

Our website now boasts an impressive library of recordings from our past speakers. Starting now, you will also be able to watch them in shorter chunks on our Youtube channel. We hope that this Youtube channel will raise the visibility of our public symposia.

Ann Nordby

YD web manager

You may soon receive an e-mail from one of us asking you to help us to re-organize the research section of the YD website. Here's what that's about.

The research section of the YD website contains a library of about 140 webinar recordings, journal articles and issue briefs about youth development. Our Youth Development Insight blog now has about 140 conversations about youth development research. We know that these two together are seen by thousands of people every month, and that they comprise a valuable library found nowhere else.

Right now we are re-organizing our website's research section so that it better reflects our current work, and so that it better integrates blog entries. To do that, we will soon be doing some audience research.

We will be asking people who know about youth development research for input, including possibly you. This will include people from our audiences, such as funders, partners, policy makers, students and youth workers.

This will be done using an online card sort. A card sort is like a game of solitaire - you just drag cards across your computer screen to group and organize content in ways that make sense to you, and press "submit". There is no right or wrong answer. The final organization will be a composite. If you get an invitation to do the card sort, and have any questions about it, please contact one of us. If you get one and don't have any questions, thank you in advance for helping us to get this done!

Ann Nordby, web manager, and
Melissa Pierce, communications associate

YD Tech Bytes launches

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Hello youth development colleagues from the distance learning team! Our team provides leadership to the Center for Youth Development in planning and delivering intentional, high quality online meetings and educational offerings. As part of that role we will be bringing to you, our colleagues, regular articles and information to help grow our center's capacity to deliver high quality online learning opportunities.

In our first YD Tech Byte article, we challenge you to make a 20 minute commitment to increase your online knowledge skills. Several options are suggested and we'd love to hear back in the comments box of our blog what you tried and what you learned about online and distance learning technology!

See the examples and read the full blog article here:
http://blog.lib.umn.edu/youthdev/yd-tech-bytes/

Kari Robideau, Eric Vogel & Todd Mehrkens


You may have heard about "the PLE", "Project Place" or other names for the 4-H online learning environment that is in its early stages of development.

Dorothy has charged the four of us with developing a lively online learning environment for 4-H youth that will support and extend the hands-on project learning that 4-H'ers are doing in clubs and elsewhere. The YD leadership team has given enthusiastic input to our plan, and we are working with the Minnesota 4-H Foundation to secure initial funding.

The PLE will be a secure space where youth and adults can solve problems and reflect on their learning.

Youth participants will be able to consult expert volunteers on their projects, no matter where in the state they live. The PLE will complement the project clubs concept.

Early pilots will probably be in the STEM, science of agriculture and citizenship & leadership project areas. We are piloting the program now with members of these teams, and developing the infrastructure that will contain this online learning environment.

Training volunteers and maintaining program quality online will be important components of development. Watch for more information about this exciting work as it develops this summer.

Todd Mehrkens, Jennifer Skuza, Trudy Dunham & Ann Nordby

The PLE development team

Check out what's new on the "quality" page on the YD intranet:
https://my.extension.umn.edu/youth/program-quality

We have created a new resource, a 4-H YPQA implementation checklist, and updates to many of the other resources on the quality page for staff that you would use for the 4-H YPQA observation, assessment and action planning process.

Remember to use the new 4-H YPQA assessment tool and the online scores reporter. If you have questions contact the Extension educator in your region with the quality function.

Ann Walter

Quality team co-chair

YD Intranet launch

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The new and improved YD Intranet, previously known as the staff only pages, will be live on Monday, Sept. 23, at https://my.extension.umn.edu/youth/. This new site is more secure and has been completely reorganized to make it easier for you to find what you need.

Instead of the cookie, you will need to enter your Internet ID (X.500 username) and password to access the new site. Some resources and forms intended only for staff can still be found on the related public web page, but the cookie is required to view those resources. For example, Ambassador recommendation forms for staff can be found on the public Ambassador page, but the cookie is required to view them.

Please be patient with us while we work out all of the glitches as we go along. Notify me at mpeick@umn.edu if you notice any missing documents, need help navigating through the site, or have any questions or concerns. The CYD web team is here to help and to make this change as easy as possible.

You should know that the search function is not yet working, but there will be a YD Intranet-specific search when that particular glitch is overcome.

Thank you to the web team who has worked so hard to build this site and to everyone else who contributed input.

Melissa Pierce

YD Intranet manager

Check out what's new on the "quality" website:
http://www1.extension.umn.edu/youth/staffonly/4hquality/

The references and resources section includes new material on belonging and engagement plus research about YPQA. Each is accompanied by a reflection guide developed by Minnesota staff to assist with group discussion and/or personal thoughts about application of the ideas.

Have you found a resource not on the site that has been particularly useful in strengthening "quality" with youth/volunteers, staff, partners or yourself? Please share it with your regional staff giving leadership for quality work so they can pass it on to others in the state.

Barb Piehl

Youth program quality coach, piehl001@umn.edu

About 700 people were able to watch three state fair events from home this year. We webcast three events - the dairy goat show, lama costume competition and one State Arts-In performance, with live commentary from youth.

The webcasts, also known as livestreaming, enabled people to watch these events from home and to learn something about what they were seeing. They were also a learning opportunity for youth. For all three events, youth expert moderators posted facts about the show itself, the project and 4-H, and answered questions from viewers. They posted judging results in the lama and dairy goat show as they happened, and explained what judges were looking for. Live production was handled by student workers.

Livestreaming was made possible by Broadband Corp of Hutchinson, which offered us free use of their camera and streaming equipment. It appeared on the Ustream platform, which hosts the eagle cam, live NASA cameras and many others.

It was our first time livestreaming events, and we hope to repeat it if response is good. Did you watch any of these shows? I am evaluating this effort now and would be grateful for your feedback. Please let me know what you thought, and how we could make it better.

Ann Nordby

YD web manager

Media release templates for 4-H YELLO! and county fairs are now available in the communications section of the YD staff only web page: http://www1.extension.umn.edu/youth/staffonly/.

The media release template can be tailored by 4-H program coordinators to pursue local media coverage of youth from their county who participated in 4-H YELLO! or county fairs this year.

Additional templates will be developed throughout the year for state Arts-In, state fair, state horse show, state dog show and the state shooting sports & wildlife invitational. Watch YD Update for notification when additional templates are available.

Contact Wendy Huckaby at huckaby@umn.edu with any questions.

Wendy T. Huckaby

YD communications manager

Most of us have experienced weird formatting issues at one point or another - we paste some copy into a document and it changes size and font style, or is suddenly bulleted for no apparent reason.

Here are a couple of quick and easy ways to solve your formatting challenges:

Option 1: Use the quick styles options in Word

  1. Select the text youword pic.jpg want to format.
  2. Click the Home tab to display the Styles group in the upper right section of the tool bar
  3. Use the arrows to scroll through the gallery's styles to choose the format/style you want. For example, most templates will have the format style categories named "Headline 1," "Headline 2," "Body text," "Subtitle," "Registration," etc., and shows what that format looks like.
  4. As you hover the mouse over each Quick Style, the text in your document will change to show how the format style will look.
  5. Click the Quick Style you want to apply, and the formatting will be changed to the selected text.
Option 2: Use Notepad to strip formatting
  1. Copy the selection of text you want to transfer into a template
  2. In the lower left corner of your computer, open the Notepad application found in the Accessories folder under All Programs in your computer
  3. Paste the selected text into Notepad, which strips out all formatting
  4. Cut or copy the selected text in Notepad and paste the text into the template
Bonus tip: Printing

Some people have reported that when they print a template, some of the content or sections of the template do not show in the printed piece. If that happens, save the Word document as a PDF before printing, which will secure the content and ensure the template prints correctly.

Wendy T. Huckaby

Communications manager

Starting today or tomorrow, staff will need to log on with Internet ID and password to access the Youth Development staff only web pages. This will seem very familiar - just like logging on to University e-mail or the Extension Intranet.

Previously these pages were behind a cookie, a lower-security device. Increasing security on these pages allows us to publish copyrighted or sensitive content. When you migrate to the Extension Intranet, you should not need to log on again.

You will still need the staff only cookie to see certain staff-only content on other pages. For example, registration forms appear on Minnesota 4-H state fair resources pages only to those who have the cookie installed.

Ann Nordby

YD web manager


Over the past couple weeks, more than 100 photos have been added to the online image gallery, including several photos in the following categories: 4-H youth and programs, 4-H youth in judging and state fair activities; agriculture and farming; food preservation; communities; water quality; and livestock.

Photos will continue to be added to the image gallery throughout the year as professional shoots are coordinated. All of the high-quality photos found in the gallery can be used for brochures, flyers or other Extension educational and program marketing templates. The high-quality professional photos, paired with the templates, are an effective way to communicate with our many audiences while strengthening the Extension brand.

Staff photos taken at YOUth and U have also been added to the staff photos section of the image gallery. High resolution versions of all photos are available for download from the gallery. Extension communications will continue to offer opportunities throughout the year for Extension staff to have their staff photos taken or retaken.

For questions or comments about the image gallery, send an email to epromo@umn.edu.

Sarah Bjorkman

Internal communications & brand manager

You may notice that the look of our website is changing a bit this month. By the end of March we will have moved all of our web pages onto the same template design as the rest of Extension.

We are doing this as part of an Extension-wide web governance effort. The benefit for our center is that our seven web publishers will be able to use design styles and widgets developed by Extension, and already being used by other centers.

We are moving pages very carefully to avoid breaking anything but if you do notice a broken link or non-functional page anywhere across the Youth Development pages, please tell me and we'll get it fixed right away.

Ann Nordby

YD web manager

What's a QR code?

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QR codes are those bar-code-like symbols that resemble crossword puzzles seen on marketing materials by businesses and other organizations. The goal of using the code is to provide a quick and easy way to direct people to more information about a company. Users with a smartphone and the right application ("app") installed on their phone can scan the QR code, which takes them directly to a web page. However, there is still a huge debate about how accessible or useful these codes are in practice.

The usage statistics for QR codes nationally are low: last year, only 6% of Americans scanned a QR code at least once. Also, most people expect to get a discount or coupon by scanning a QR code.

Like any other tool (social media, marketing brochure, etc.), you should develop a plan and goals for using a QR code, including assessing your audience to see if this tool is the best way to accomplish your goal. What percentage of people who see your QR code will have a smartphone when they see it AND recognize what it is AND already have the required app installed on their phone to scan it? And what benefit will you realize from that?

If you want to explore using a QR code as part of your marketing efforts, here are a few additional tips to consider:

  • Don't waste space on your sign or brochure explaining what a QR code is - if people don't already know what a QR code is and have the app installed, they will not likely take the time to learn how and do it to scan the code in that moment (which also defeats the ultimate purpose of a quick and easy way to access information). Just post the QR code graphic, and maybe label it "QR Code", but nothing more.
  • Choose carefully where you want the code to link to. What do you want people to do when they get there - register for something? Give money? Whatever that is, make it very easy for them to do.
  • QR codes are licensed for a limited period, so be sure to pick the time period that suits your goal or activity.
  • Try to anticipate the amount of time you will be putting into this project, and what you expect the gain to be. Then if you think it looks worth doing, go ahead, but be sure to do some evaluation afterward to find out for sure.

Please give me a call if you are considering using QR codes so I can help.

Ann Nordby
YD web manager

We're continually adding to the "News From the Field" page of our website. This staff resource compiled by YD faculty contains a listing of the all the latest journals, scholarly reports, articles, web sites and other resources about the latest trends and topics in the field of youth development. These resources may inform how you think about your work or your scholarship.

Consider it your reading room: scan the headlines of youth development journals, as well as relevant articles from other journals and popular media. Visit http://www1.extension.umn.edu/youth/staffonly/news-from-the-field.html

This week, we've added four new journals to this page, including:

• The Journal of Adolescence, which this month has a special issue devoted to the latest results from the 4-H Positive Youth Development Study, with articles by Richard Lerner and Jaqueline Lerner and others.

• The Journal of Research on Adolescence, with a recent article titled "Youth Organizers as Young Adults: Their Commitments and Contributions" by Jerusha Conner.

• New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development. The December issue contains an article written by Constance Flanagan (who co-edits this issue) and Brian Christens called "Youth Civic Development: historical context and emerging issues".

News from the field is updated nearly every day, and contains links to the five latest headlines from each journal. For older articles, visit our online library of journal articles, http://www.delicious.com/youth_development/field, which is also available for you as a research tool.

This week in the Youth Development Insight blog you can read Joyce Walker's post about our recent symposium on digital youth media with Nicole Pinkard.

http://blog.lib.umn.edu/extyouth/insight/2011/12/digital-media-new-literacy-finds-a-place-in-out-of-school-time.php.

Joyce got excited about podcasts, video production, computer graphic design and digital sound production not because she's at technology nut, but because of the way these activities can enhance learning and literacy. If you missed this symposium, you can watch the recording of the presentation, linked from the blog. Weigh in with your opinion on ways to use technology to enhance twenty-first century literacy.

Ann Nordby
YD web manager

If you have a 4-H County Facebook page, you probably already have some type of plan for maintaining it. Best practice for a 4-H Facebook page, for example, is to check it daily for comments (responding if that is called for) and contributing to it at least once a week.

But what should you contribute to it, you ask? Don't wait until the last minute to decide - plan ahead!

When choosing what to post, consider:

  • Goals of this page: If the goal for your 4-H County Facebook page is to keep your 4-H clubs going on their projects, post project information. If your goal is to facilitate conversation among your group, pose questions for them to discuss.

  • Important dates: the 4-H calendar itself offers a social media conversation planning tool. If deadlines are approaching for fair registration, for example, remind everyone what they are and link to the Minnesota 4-H website or county page when appropriate.

  • Types of content: You don't always have to write your contribution. You can post images from a recent event, link to a demonstration video on Youtube, or link to online vendors of equipment your group needs to buy for a project.

  • Make up an editorial calendar: Identify who will post what, and on what date. You could do what I do, and create a new calendar on your Google calendar, enter the dates and set reminders for yourself or anyone else who will be posting. Or create your own system for remembering what you plan to say and when.

We're currently working on developing 4-H policies and guidelines for social media that build on what Extension has developed and will help you in thinking about how social media can support your work and help you connect with your key audiences online!

Ann Nordby
YD web manager

Here are a few of the journal and news articles coming up on the YD Staff Only News from the field web page:

  • "Breaking New Ground: Data Systems Transform Family Engagement in Education," a brief published by the Harvard Family Research Project. First author is Heather Weiss, who presented a youth development public symposium at McNamara in 2007.

  • "Mapping Food Stores & People at Risk for Food Insecurity in Lewiston, Maine," published in the December issue of the Journal of Extension. It describes an interesting use of technology for social betterment, one that a 4-H group might use for a service learning project.

  • Also from the Journal of Extension: "Educational Value of Horsemanship Clinics to Youth and Adult Riders," an evaluation done by Texas AgriLife Extension of their 37-year-old Summer Horsemanship School program.

  • "Levels of Community Engagement in Youth Violence Prevention: The Role of Power in Sustaining Successful University-Community Partnerships," which appeared in the American Journal of Community Psychology.

  • "Movin' After School: A community-based support for policy change in the after-school environment," from the journal Childhood Obesity.

Use the News from the Field page, found on the YD website's Staff Only pages, to scan the headlines of youth development journals, as well as relevant articles from other journals and popular media. Visit http://www1.extension.umn.edu/youth/staffonly/news-from-the-field.html .

Ann Nordby
YD web manager

What's the difference between these things? Since they are all carried on the Internet, it can be confusing, but they each have their best uses. Once you understand them, they can all work well together.

A website contains factual information and resources. Our YD website provides all the information and resources for Minnesota 4-H, the Minnesota 4-H Foundation, the Youth Work Institute and our Youth Development research.

We discourage staff and volunteers from using other websites to distribute the same resources and information provided on our YD site, because visitors will not be ensured of receiving the most up-to-date and comprehensive materials and resources that they need. But it's perfectly fine for staff or other groups to have online discussions about their projects or activities using social media, and then link back to the appropriate page in the YD website to obtain any related resources or materials for participating in 4-H, YWI, etc.

Social media such as Facebook are like a town square - a meeting place with many voices and groups to talk, share likes, dislikes, ideas, photos and videos, and network online. You can find friends, business contacts and become part of a community or a bunch of different communities. Visitors to your page can easily see your affinities with other individuals and groups, based on the other pages that you "like". Facebook is useful for 4-H clubs, youth workers with a common cause or interest, or anyone who wants to share information (point them to a website with great resources, share links to interesting articles, etc.) or converse about what they are doing. Facebook tends to be used by individuals, and social groups and causes.

Tip: For professional networking, use Linkedin, the social media network for business. Like Facebook, Linkedin has individual pages, which resemble resumes, and group pages for companies and organizations. A Linkedin group called "4-H youth development professionals" has 145 members, who can ask others for advice and post invitations to professional events. A key word search for "youth development" turns up 9875 individuals who list that term somewhere on their Linkedin page.

Blogs are another form of social media: a conversation hosted by the author. Youth Development is developing an organizational blog to be launched in January, where our faculty and educators will share opinions and host conversations about current youth development research and news, and invite others in the field to comment.

A potentially confusing wrinkle: blogging platforms such as Moveable Type and Wordpress are often used as content management systems for running websites or delivering newsletters. Strictly speaking, a blog is a conversation hosted by you.

Here are a couple of guidelines when using social media for YD purposes:

  • When you want to provide materials and resources related to 4-H or YWI, send them directly to the appropriate page on the YD website via links, so that they obtain the most current and comprehensive set of information and materials.
  • Contact me before using Extension or 4-H branding (including the clover) on social media. We are working on policies and guidelines to help differentiate and identify organizational social media (ex. the "X County 4-H" Facebook page) vs. social media created by volunteers and youth (ex. the "X County 4-H club" Facebook page).
Ann Nordby Youth Development web manager
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