Michigan 4-H first generation cultural competency training

Michigan 4-H is exploring the potential of offering cultural competency training for Michigan 4-H staff, volunteers and youth.

Michigan 4-H is exploring the idea of offering or requiring staff, volunteers and youth additional training in the area of cultural competency. The thought is to increase awareness and knowledge of differences and acceptance of all 4-Hers no matter the gender, race, culture or length of time in 4-H. Cultural competency is defined as a set of congruent behaviors, attitudes and policies that come together in a system, agency or among professionals and enable that system, agency or those professionals to work effectively in cross-cultural situations.

Michigan 4-H strives to provide diverse cultural experiences that align with the organization’s philosophy statement, which states, “Michigan 4-H creates non-formal, experiential, educational opportunities designed to connect in-school learning with out-of-school time activities that help youth thrive in a complex and changing world.” The Michigan 4-H philosophy goes on to include the following objectives: reach both diverse and underserved audiences, be accessible and promote a multicultural perspective and appreciation.

In order to provide 4-H youth development programming that is culturally competent, we need staff who understand their own implicit and explicit biases. A good way to identify, explore and address these biases is through training. It is being proposed that all Michigan 4-H staff and volunteers complete a cultural competency training, which can be an added Volunteer Selection Process (VSP) training module. The Michigan 4-H first generation task force members are not experts on diversity and cultural competency, and will need to identify individuals to provide this training.

Suggested venues and opportunities to provide 4-H cultural competency trainings include:

  • Live and recorded webinars and a VSP training module for staff and volunteers.
  • Face-to-face district or cluster trainings for Michigan State University Extension staff.
  • Leader updates for volunteers.
  • 4-H Exploration Days orientations and other statewide programs for members.

The Michigan 4-H first generation task force is working hard to develop a plan and timeline for a suggested or mandatory cultural competency training for staff, volunteers and youth to enhance or stabilize the 4-H culture and ensure it is inclusive.

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