4-H Youth Development Committees Look to the Future of 4-H

Regional Youth Retreat

With a steady eye on growing the 4-H program, Youth Development committees from Allamakee, Clayton, Chickasaw, Fayette, Howard and Winneshiek counties met on March 12, 2013, at Iowa’s Dairy Center on the Northeast Iowa Community College Campus, Calmar. 

The evening began with a general welcome and a mixer to help expand the relationships between each county.  Lynette Houser, Regional Food and Fitness Coordinator gave a presentation on the connection between Food and Fitness and the county extension programs in the areas of locally grown food and the 4-H Youth Development program.

Participants focused on four major themes for the remainder of the evening in roundtable discussions: youth/adult partnerships, program development, structure and organization and professional development.  Research has shown the strong youth/adult partnerships are the hallmark of any successful youth organization. Participants in this roundtable identified the strengths and weaknesses of youth and adults and how groups can use each to help grow their 4-H program. 

The program development roundtable focused on participants sharing the current outstanding opportunities available in their counties. Additionally, members focused on the identification of potential new programs for counties to consider.  New ideas in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), project based workshops, science discovery days, weekend experiential trips and increased sharing of resources between counties were all highlighted. 

The structure and organization roundtable participants looked deeply at the partnership that exists between our volunteers and staff and how those relationships can help grow the 4-H program.  In the discussion the group focused on the gender and age composition of our youth committees. Discussions on how youth/adult partnerships can expand program opportunities were also held.

The final roundtable discussion was on professional development for our membership.  Participants focused on the need for volunteer development and management. Risk management was discussed and why it is important to the success of each county’s program. Participants identified that having additional regional meetings would help to further expand programming and understanding of what each county is currently involved in.

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