FAYETTE, Iowa – Seventy-four youth from 15 northeast Iowa schools learned about using their voice for leadership and making an action plan for change in their community during the Youth Voice in Action! 4-H Summit on Oct. 26. The day-long summit at Upper Iowa University was led by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach county and state youth outreach staff.
The youth also heard from ISU Extension and Outreach specialists on a variety of workshop topics. The participating youth were from schools in Allamakee, Bremer, Buchanan, Butler, Clayton, Chickasaw, Fayette, Howard and Winneshiek counties.
Learning to work with others based on leadership style was one part of the overall process for developing a community action plan. To determine their leadership style, youth took a short survey to determine if they were more like a buffalo, eagle, mouse or beaver. This humorous activity grouped youth together based on their leadership style. They reviewed their strengths and shared pointers others should know about working with their leadership style. Youth reported they felt confident in being able to treat others fairly and equally when they are in charge of a group.
As a school team, youth used a “5 Why’s” activity to define an issue in their school or community. Some topics identified included a need for a student council group, additional trash cans outside of a school to help keep it beautiful, and a plan for addressing racism and sexism in a school. Led by a caring adult from their school, youth began writing the first steps toward solving the issue.
To better equip youth with the tools needed to address community issues, five ISU Extension and Outreach specialists and county staff led workshops related to STEM, financial literacy, communication, arts and mindfulness. In one workshop, Karen Lathrop, advancement specialist, described the difference between public and private value and how to communicate within a community to raise visibility. Youth then created public value statements and explored the best way to deliver those messages. Youth reported an increased confidence in using this skill to help them approach school administration, and even city or school councils.
In another workshop, Cody Emery, youth outreach educator for Bremer and Fayette counties, inspired youth to use art as a way to impact and communicate with their community. One student commented, “I forgot how powerful art can be. It’s such a quick way to reach people.”
Now the youth will use their voice and leadership to implement their community action plan by the end of the current school year. An ISU Extension and Outreach county staff member will follow up with the schools about additional youth leadership opportunities.
This event was made possible with funding from Iowa 4-H and ISU Extension and Outreach county offices, and facilities support from Upper Iowa University.
The annual Youth Voice in Action! Summit has helped grow young leaders in local communities, connected ISU Extension and Outreach to schools for further learning, and opened the door for youth to discover how powerful their voices in action can really be. For more information on the Iowa 4-H Youth Development program, please contact your ISU Extension and Outreach county office or visit the Iowa 4-H website at www.extension.iastate.edu/4h. ISU Extension and Outreach can bring youth opportunities for all ages to a classroom and community near you.
- Groups from the buffalo, eagle, beaver and mouse leadership personalities assessment shared their strengths as leaders and what others should know about working with them.
- Counting beans for budgeting was a real-life example on where money goes. This workshop was led by Jeannette Mukayisire, a human sciences specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach.