Gadsden County 4-H youth on campus for 4-H University. 4-HU is the premier youth leadership development event of Florida 4-H.
Leaders – Born or Made?
Many of us have heard the saying, “oh, that young man or woman is such a natural born leader.” But are leaders born that way, or do they develop into leaders? These Gadsden County delegates took advantage of 4-H University this summer – an awesome Florida 4-H state event designed to grow leadership skills. Many of them have also served as volunteer 4-H camp counselors during the summer. They understand that leaders are developed and not born.
What Defines a Leader?
Sometimes people confuse charisma with leadership abilities. Charisma is a special magnetic charm or appeal (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). Many of our local to national leaders have some level of charisma. In addition to charisma, leaders should have the more important skills such as communication, problem solving, critical thinking, managing, and self-awareness. There are many definitions for leadership because there is no universal definition. Leadership involves a process while a leader is the one who carries out the process.
How Does 4-H Unlock Your Leadership Potential?
One of my favorite teaching tools used to develop my Gadsden County 4-H leaders is the “Unlock Your Leadership Potential” by UF/IFAS Extension. It has influenced how I would define a leader. The overall goal of a good leader is to move the group or organization toward its goals while building a sense of togetherness and well-being.
Florida 4-H grows leaders at the club, county, district, and state levels by creating safe and nurturing environments and providing quality experiences. Knowledge and skills are great, but being able to apply them through experience is what fortifies and matures youth as well as increases their confidence. The 4-H slogan, “Learn by Doing”, is why the 4-H Experiential model is important to UF/IFAS-Extension 4-H Youth Development Program. The more active the youth and the duration of a their engagements in 4-H positive youth development the greater the benefits not just for them but also their communities (2013, National 4-H Council). It takes a whole team of Extension professionals, staff, 4-H Seniors, and volunteers to make the “magic” happen.
Call to Action:
- Begin the journey as a youth or volunteer: http://florida4h.org/getinvolved/
- Engage in local and state 4-H programs: http://florida4h.org/programsandevents_/
- Give to Florida 4-H: https://www.uff.ufl.edu/give-now/?fund_id=003603
- Read and share the other great blogs by my colleagues here: http://nwdistrict.ifas.ufl.edu/4hn/
- Join the “30 Days of Doing” 4-H Movement: https://4-h.org/inspire-kids-to-do/
References and Further Reading:
4-H Day at the Capitol provides youth an opportunity to use their voice and practice good citizenship while
educating representatives and senators about the 4-H Program. 4-H members are highly encouraged to make an appointment with their congressmen or a congressional aide to talk about how the Florida 4-H Program has impacted their lives. During the day, participants will hear from public officials, participate in educational workshops, and see their congressmen in action. This year’s event is planned for Thursday, March 23rd.
Registration for this event is open through March 1st via 4HOnline. You may have participated in this event in the past, but this year, there are several important changes that will make your experience a little different (and hopefully even better).
This year, there will not be planned workshops for you to register for, but the 4-H Day at the Capitol Guidebook does include suggestions for educational tours and sites in Tallahassee that your club may want to take advantage of. Your registration includes a 4-H polo and lunch. Please wear dress pants, a skirt or khakis with your polo (no jeans or shorts). You want to look professional for your meetings with elected officials!
One of the primary goals of this event is for 4-Hers to have an opportunity to connect with their representative and/or senator to educate them about the 4-H program. Learning how to do this is a valuable citizenship skill. Please refer to the guidebook for detailed information and frequently asked questions. Here are a few tips to help you set up your appointments and prepare for your visit:
- Identify your State Representative and Senator
- Call the Capitol Office and request an appointment- Contact the Capitol office the first week of March to request an appointment. The secretary will ask you to call back closer to March 23, 2017 to confirm an appointment time.
- Learn about your Elected Officials
- Make a Plan for your Visit and Practice – During the months the Florida Legislature is in session, legislators work long hours and have limited time. Most likely you will only have 3-5 minutes for your meeting, so you need be prepared. Refer to the guide for some tips on preparing for your meeting. Decide what member(s) of your club or council will speak and practice!
- Call to Confirm your Appointment- Call your legislators’ Capitol Office again the week before 4-H Day at the Capitol to confirm your appointment with your legislator (or their aide of the legislator is not available)
Do you have an interest in government and citizenship? If so, consider enrolling in 4-H as either a member or volunteer. We have several programs to help youth learn about how our government works and how they can be an involved, caring and compassionate citizen. Contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office or visit some of these links:
Civic engagement is a broad term that describes the process developing the knowledge, skills, and motivation to improve the quality of life in a community, through either political or non-political processes. Thomas Ehrlich, the author of Civic Engagement and Higher Education, states “a morally and civically responsible individual recognizes himself or herself as a member of a larger social fabric and therefore considers social problems to be at least partly his or her own; such an individual is willing to see the moral and civic dimensions of issues, to make and justify informed moral and civic judgments, and to take action when appropriate.” “Developing youth who take interest in understanding social and community issues is a fundamental philosophy of 4-H. This interest is a learned behavior and is best approached by meeting the youth where they are, rather than club leaders prescribing citizenship opportunities for them,” shares Stacey Ellison, the 4-H Regional Specialized 4-H Agent providing leadership for civic engagement. “To find that out, ask youth what are they interested in? What concerns them about their community? How do they see themselves as part of the solution?” A great resource for helping club leaders facilitate these types of discussions is the 4-H Civic Engagement Guide for Afterschool Clubs.
How do 4-H parents and volunteers know if they are “doing” civic engagement in their club? You know you are on the right track when civic engagement opportunities:
- Provide meaningful service that directly relates to community or youth needs.http://www.4-h.org/about/youth-development-research/positive-youth-development-study/
- Provide supervision by caring adults who have been screening and oriented to their roles.
- Teach critical skills, such as subject matter knowledge or skills (babysitting, CPR, etc.) and/or life skills like problem solving, leadership, teamwork and life skills
- Foster youth adult partnerships. Meaningful youth engagement views youth as equal partners with adults in the decision-making process. Programs and activities are developed with youth, rather than for youth. In this kind of equal partnership, both adults and young people need to be fully engaged, open to change in how things are done, and share a unified vision for the partnership.
- Adults and stakeholders view youth as a resource. Youth programs are strengthened when they involve and engage youth as equal partners, ultimately providing benefits both for the program and for the involved youth. Positive youth development also has its origins in the field of prevention. In the past, prevention efforts typically focused on single problems before they surfaced in youth, such as teen pregnancy, substance abuse and juvenile delinquency.
- Celebrate success and recognize youth (ex: 4-H Awards & Recognition Programs, 4-H program awards, ribbons, plaques, etc.)
Youth can provide added energy, ideas, and value to organizations through youth volunteering efforts. Stacey shares one of the easiest ways for clubs to get involved and have an impact in not only their community, but statewide: “One of our biggest impacts in Florida 4-H has been through our annual state service projects. While clubs across the state undoubtedly have tremendous local success in various projects, the state project seeks to join the efforts of all Florida 4-Hers to benefit one particular cause. With more than 230,000 4-H members working towards the same cause- we can make tremendous impact on the state of Florida! This year’s state 4-H service project is, “Clothing the World.” This is a project selected by the youth members of our Florida 4-H Executive Board State Project committee. The youth saw a need to provide for one of the most basic needs of people around the world- clothing. Clubs are encouraged to conduct their own clothes drives and volunteer with like-purposed charitable organizations to benefit their local communities.”
Civic engagement is major factor in 4-H positive youth development. The Tufts Study on Positive Youth Development found that compared to their peers, 4-H’ers are:four times more likely to make contributions to their communities and two times more likely to be civically active. If you would like to help Florida 4-H grow the next generation of civically engaged young adults, consider becoming a volunteer. Visit http://florida4h.org/volunteer or contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office for more information.
Resources: www.florida4h.org/, https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/wc073 (EDIS Publication #AEC392 – Learning by Doing: Utilizing Service-Learning Projects), www.youth.gov, www.IndependentSector.org