As I sit and wonder where to begin with this, I am reminded of an experience I had as a child. I know I do not have the neatest handwriting and was told that numerous times in school, but I recall one instance where I was at a 4-H club meeting and was having my record book judged. I was probably in seventh or eighth grade and I apologized to the judge for my handwriting.
I remember her saying that it looked wonderful. I sat there in amazement that she thought it was wonderful. From then on I realized my handwriting was not terrible. Yes, it could be improved, but it was not as hard to read as I had been led to believe. What a boost of confidence that was to me.
Positive youth development is having an impact on a youth’s life for the better. Now, sometimes that is hard because a lesson needs to be learned and we wonder how we are impacting that youth in a positive way. The positive result is that in the long run when youths move on they will have learned a lesson that will help them to be a better person in the future when more of these situations appear in their lives. For instance, consider deadlines, which are a part of our life no matter what we do. Another activity is keeping accurate records, as this is a lifelong skill we will use.
In 4-H, we ask that club leaders do three things with every lesson — do, reflect and apply. You just don’t show up and do the activity. You should be talking about what happens, sharing your experience and processing it. Leaders should also talk about how to connect an activity to real-world experiences and use it. This helps youth to learn important lessons and skills from whatever they have done.
There are also things that are not so positive that happen in a person’s life. If we look at the situation, we can usually find a positive in it. It is hard but it is important to learn this skill as there will be times in life that we feel let down, disappointed or even that we have been personally attacked. It is important to be able to look at those situations and reflect on how to find the positive in them. Sometimes the positive is moving on and letting go. We need to be able to share this skill with youth.
My spouse and I on occasion will sit and talk about our days. We need to get back into this. We ask three questions: What was the best part of your day? What was the worst part of your day? What did you learn or what do you want most today? Sharing our ups and downs with someone is important, and it is a good thing to do with your own kids or kids you may work with. It’s good to know we are human and good and bad.
There are so many different experiences out there and so many youths who are looking for that wonderful mentor they can look up to. Whether in 4-H or not, I would encourage you to stop and think of the positive youth experiences you can provide and help a child.
4-H is a youth organization for youth K-12 that helps youth learn about certain items of interest to them, but also teaches them life skills. 4-H has a club structure with leaders who are adult volunteers with current background checks. To learn more about the local program, contact Marla Lowder, Tanana District 4-H agent, at 907-474-2427. You can also check out our web page at www.alaska4h.org/fairbankstanana-district.html. 4-H is a part of the Cooperative Extension Service of the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
By Marla Lowder
4-H & Youth Development Agent
UAF Cooperative Extension Service