Encourage youth to play a key role in learning in 4-H clubs

Teach youth to implement the Michigan 4-H Guiding Principles three and four in club settings.

After introducing and exploring the seven Michigan 4-H Guiding Principles for Positive Youth Development and engaging youth in the exploration of principles one and two, begin to narrow the concentration on principles three and four.

Review principle three: “Youth are actively engaged in their own development.”

This principle encourages youth to increase their personal competence and sense of well-being. There are two methods to encourage 4-H’ers: self-motivation and external motivation.

Self-motivation results from basic needs, personal preferences and outlooks of worth and belonging. Self-motivation is the most meaningful approach. An individual journal for each member to record their personal milestone would be helpful.

External motivation is based on incentives and awards received. Reward those who achieve and those who participate. These rewards could be as simple as a sticker placed on a chart or more advanced tracking of percentages of completion. Each 4-H member should set individual and club goals for the year. Celebrate and have discussions as these goals are met.

Review principle four: “Youth are considered participants rather than recipients in the learning process.”

Effervescent4-H members want to feel that the club is theirs to shape and to guide. Train youth to make decisions as adults reduce their part in decision making. Clubs should meet regularly and consistently. There must be structure to the meetings with youth knowing what to expect. Traditions and ceremonies can encourage a sense of continuity with the past history. Members need to be part of the 4-H organization, at a local county level, as well as a state and national level. Youth participants will have positive interactions with adult role models. They will have opportunities to build the skills and competencies needed to be contributing members of the world.

Adult leaders should build decision making skills, conflict resolution skills and planning competences in the youth members. Michigan State University Extension has many resources to assist in building these skills.               

For more information about bringing youth into the promotion of the 4-H Guiding Principles, see part one of this article series.

For more information on engaging youth in activities that support club exploration of the 4-H Guiding Principles, see part two of this article series.

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