September 14, 2018
State Fair Time Reflections: Where Have We Walked?
Over the past couple months, I have share elements of what I see as essential to sharing about the 4-H Youth Development mission. As we are on the verge of a new program year and as I currently write this from the Kansas State Fair, we have lots to be thankful for.
Conversations and actions within Kansas 4-H have made much progress. Momentum is building and creative engagement is expanding. Since my start in April of last year, we have moved forward on multiple fronts. I will recall some of them.
Kansas 4-H has prioritized the following program wide.
1) Project support and enhancements (i.e. principles of engaged learning,
communicate and connect learning opportunities, updating/refreshing existing project materials)
- Program prioritization process identifying top program areas to invest in.
- Hiring Anissa Jepsen and Chris Mullins to lead in STEM, Natural Resources, Military Youth, and Shooting Sports Education.
- Hiring Taylor Flowers to provide leadership to partnership efforts with Dr. Tanda Kidd and Karen Blakeslee to grow a "Learning Pathway" for volunteer development within Health and Food Science.
- Learning Pathway process initiated; Creating an organizational map of learning from the local, county/district, region, state, university and national level.
- Launching of New Initiative called Science of Agriculture being showcased this coming Sunday at the Kansas State Fair and then later in November at K-State.
2) Volunteer Development (materials and coaching of volunteers; tools for
recruitment, growth, evaluation and accountability)
- Hiring Shane Potter as Volunteer Development Specialist.
- Restructure advisory group and realign standards for Shooting Sports Education.
- In process - evaluation of existing volunteer recruitment, application, and on-boarding process.
3) Program enhancements benefiting community clubs
- Curriculum resourcing and organization at the State 4-H Office.
- Program Focus Team alignment with measurable youth development deliverables for program progress.
4) Foundational Supports (accessibility, campus/community partnerships and marketing at statewide events, and materials that can be used by local units.)
- Growing college partnerships within statewide programs (i.e. Kansas Youth Leadership Forum, Discovery Days).
- Accommodations document finished to assist local units in assessing the learning needs for any youth to participate in 4-H learning.
- Integrate Prioritization Process and Expansion Grant framework together into best practices and recommendations for program excellence.
- Leveraging National 4-H monies to create distinct learning experiences that can be scalable across the rest of the state. (i.e. initiatives involving industry partner BayerUS in Johnson County, Agriculture Innovations in Cottonwood District where over 1000 youth learned from district 4-H teen teachers about monarchs and habitat preservation, and New Audiences National Mentoring grant servicing Riley County.)
- Continued investment in the National 4-H Council campaign effort to provide tools and resources for a unified brand image across the KSRE system with Kansas 4-H.
- Launching the 4-H Formula one pager for use in Kansas 4-H to illustrate the public benefit of 4-H Youth Development for public investment.
This is by no means an exhaustive list. The state, regional, and local unit 4-H professionals have done tremendous work this past year in bringing leadership to our fairs, events, action teams, and overall project learning in every corner of the state. But this is to illustrate some significant pieces that are moving forward. Together we work to deepen the quality and expand opportunities for dynamic learning with Kansas youth to benefit their local communities and better themselves as tomorrow's leaders.
Thank you for being a part of this valuable Kansas 4-H work each and every day!