We know that younger youth look up to older youth and like to model their behaviors. We see it in siblings all the time, absorbing behaviors of their older brothers or sisters like sponges. Often times, younger youth find the attention and encouragement of older youth more relatable due to the closeness in age. Peer teaching fosters a more engaging and even symbiotic learning experience as this gives teens the opportunity to share and reinforce their own knowledge. In addition, by pairing the two age groups together in a learning environment, a sense of comradery can develop, creating a greater sense of belonging within the 4-H community. In this post, we will define peer teaching, share a few examples of how to utilize your teens as teachers and provide tips for getting peer teaching started in your clubs and other 4-H events and activities successfully.
WHAT IS PEER TEACHING?
What do we mean by peer teaching exactly? It is the process of youth learning together and from each other through engaging, hands-on activities. In 4-H, we have the wonderful ability to utilize teens as volunteers and positive role models for our younger youth in our positive youth development programs. Empowering our teens as teachers for our younger members allows life skills to develop among our youth being instructed and also the instructors. The teen instructors are teaching specific topics to their peers at the same time they are strengthening their own leadership, communication, and social skills.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF PEER TEACHING?
As stated previously, one of the greatest outcomes is that the teacher and the student both gain knowledge and skills. It creates a mutually beneficial environment in which all youth can achieve personal growth and development if implemented and managed correctly. In addition, there are many other benefits of peer teaching such as:
- Peers being taught may form a quicker and better connection with teens due to communication, technology and other trends.
- An increase in peer confidence as they may feel more comfortable in asking questions, discussing topics with others closer to their age.
- Greater creativity as teens may have more innovative or modern ideas to bring to the activities.
- An increase in volunteers as teens have the ability to recruit more teens easier than typical adult volunteers.
- An increase in retention of youth as peers stay in the program and become the next generation of teen volunteers/teachers.
WHAT DOES PEER TEACHING LOOK LIKE IN 4-H?
Below are just a few programs for teens to practice the method of peer teaching in their 4-H county:
- New Members – When new youth join 4-H, it can be overwhelming at times to learn some of the 4-H activities, customs, and such. This would be a great opportunity for peer teaching. Have teens assigned to new members that join in order to teach them the 4-H pledge, motto, club expectations, member names, etc. This creates a greater sense of belonging and fosters a supportive environment within the club for new members to engage more quickly and successfully.
- Cloverbud Club Meetings – Utilizing your teen members in club meetings involving Cloverbuds (members ages 5-7) is a great way to incorporate peer teaching in your 4-H program. Younger members thrive off of creativity and enthusiasm which teens often portray easily. Teens can funnel this energy into teaching lessons to Cloverbuds that are engaging and interactive in a simplistic way.
- Summer Day Camps – 4-H programs often times need additional volunteers during the summer to assist with the volume of programming and youth participants. Therefore, summer is a great time to recruit teens to become peer teachers. Having teens as peer teachers helps with supervision and instruction while at the same time, allows them to stay involved in 4-H, continue to apply their life skills learned, and help the program teach life skills to other youth in the community.
TIPS TO GET PEER TEACHING STARTED IN YOUR 4-H COUNTY
What does it take to get peer teaching started in your 4-H county? Time and patience to start with. Teaching with teens is an ongoing task and will take a little effort on your part. Below are a few tips to get you started on having teens peer teach in your county:
- Identify programming that would benefit by peer teaching.
- Recruit quality teen teachers.
- Train and support teens as peer teachers.
- Assign teens appropriate roles in the peer teacher process.
- Model appropriate teaching methods in 4-H programs.
- Shadow teens in the role as peer teachers to provide support and guidance.
- Evaluate, provide feedback, and continue professional development for continued success.
Remember, peer teaching is a great way to utilize teen members in your 4-H programs. Younger youth need as many positive role models as possible in their lives. By having teen teachers take the lead in instruction in your 4-H programs, you are fostering an environment of learning, inclusivity, empowerment, and leadership.
To learn more about 4-H opportunities where teens can take the lead as teachers for their peers, please contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office, or visit http://florida4h.org.
Burse, G., Crocker, E. T., Jordan, J., McKinney, M., & Murphy, L. (2021). Teens as Teachers 4-H Project: Curriculum and Resources. UF/IFAS Extension, University of Florida. Retrieved May 1, 2023, from https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/4H432
Eckhoff, A., & Swistock, B. (2011). Staffing with Teenagers and Teens as Cross-Age Teachers. Rutgers Cooperative Extension.
Figure 1. Hendricks, P. (1998) “Developing Youth Curriculum Using the Targeting Life Skills Model”
During the summertime, 4-H typically offers more opportunities for our teen audience since school is not in session as their schedules are more flexible. Because of this, we want to ensure that we are targeting skills that are specific to our teens’ immediate and future wellbeing and success.
In this article, I will discuss why life skills are so important, what 4-H programs already established target, which life skills are most beneficial for our teens and what, when, and how teens can get involved.
WHY DO WE CARE SO MUCH ABOUT LIFE SKILLS?
We know that life skills are abilities learned that help individuals reach their full potential in life. They assist in helping folks successfully handle day-to-day life experiences. We believe they are developed through hands-on learning, activities, and practice.
Life skills are the foundation of 4-H. Utilizing the Targeting Life Skills Wheel (Hendricks, 1998), we connect life skills through 4-H projects, programs, and events to real life experiences based on our Head, Heart, Hands and Health model. By helping youth achieve these life skills, 4-H professionals and volunteers are providing the framework for future academic and employment success, as well as youth thriving and community outreach.
Five essential life skills from the Targeting Life Skills Model commonly developed by participating in 4-H are:
- Interpersonal Relationships
PROJECTS & EVENTS RELATED TO LIFE SKILLS FOR TEENS
Below are just a few 4-H projects and events in Florida 4-H for teens to get involved in to develop and strengthen essential life skills:
- 4-H Tailgating Contest – This program teaches healthy living and the science of grilling seafood, pork, poultry and beef safely outdoors. This program teaches decision making, healthy lifestyle choices, and communication life skills, among others.
- Gator Pit – The Gator Pit is a program open to all teens ages 14-18 in Florida. Youth are taught how to develop entrepreneurial skills through mentorship, competition, and networking to the business community.
- 4-H Legislative – Florida 4-H Legislature provides an opportunity for teens ages 14-18 to experience state government procedures and prepare them for potential leadership in the American democratic process. Youth learn, practice, and defend public policy.
- 4-H University – Florida 4-H University is an opportunity for teens to participate in educational workshops lead by UF faculty, explore potential careers, strengthen interpersonal relationships with peers, and develop critical life skills that will help them become leaders and engaged citizens in their communities.
The Florida 4-H Curriculum Clearinghouse is a list of 4-H resources available, including project curriculum, record books, club resources and other educational publications that meet the standards of Florida 4-H. In this site you can view resources for specific projects. To learn more about 4-H opportunities for teens, please contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office, or visit http://florida4h.org.
Hendricks, P.A. (1998). Developing Youth Curriculum Using the Targeting Life Skills Model: Incorporating Developmentally Appropriate Learning Opportunities to Assess Impact of Life Skill Development. Iowa State Extension Publication. https://extension.purdue.edu/4-H/about/impact-targeting-life-skills.
Irvine, K. (2019). What are Life Skills? https://blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/nassauco/2019/02/04/what-are-life-skills/
Joining a new group of individuals can be nerve-wracking for some that may be shy or intimidated by large groups. Incorporating team-building activities into your 4-H clubs and activities is a great way for 4-H members, new and returning, to form a connection with each other and will help set the tone for that particular group setting and/or event. In this post, we’ll provide tips to bring engaging team-building activities into your 4-H clubs and events. In addition, we will share some of the most popular team-building activities for various age groups that you can use to support your work with 4-H youth.
Together Everyone Achieves More
Teambuilding has been proven to have many benefits. Two of the most powerful benefits of team building are increased group morale and individual confidence. Having a new group of individuals learn to work collectively as a team builds rapport and trust. Teambuilding allows individuals to contribute their strengths to the team and also gain additional skills learned from others within the group. This allows for personal growth and development… However, teambuilding does not happen on its own- teams are formed over time with good leadership.
Bruce Tuckman’s Forming-Storming-Norming-Performing model (1965) is arguably the most recognized model for team development, and includes four stages of team development: Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing, and Adjourning:
- Forming: The leader shares goals, but there is no commitment yet; individual roles and responsibilities are unclear. Very leader driven at this point. This stage is essential to help reduce anxiety new members might feel joining a 4-H club or group and will help foster a sense of belonging.
- Storming: Trust hasn’t been established and decisions are difficult to make. Team members try to establish credibility with the group toward the end of this stage.
- Norming: The group is establishing trust—agreement is easier to reach, commitment to goals is evident, and decisions are being made.
- Performing: The group could function on its own without the leader because of the trust, commitment to goals, clarity, and ease of making decisions.
- Adjourning: Recognition and sensitivity to the break-up of the group is important as the team dissolves and members move on to other tasks.
Five Team Building Tips for 4-H Clubs or Groups
Below are five helpful tips for incorporating hands-on activities into your 4-H clubs and events in order to have successful teambuilding interaction:
- The teambuilding process can be longer for some groups than others- it really depends on the needs of the group and how often they meet or interact. If your group meets once a month, it might take longer than if your group is in the same cabin all week at camp.
- Select activities that will address the current needs of your group- if the group is already formed, move on to activities that promote storming.
- If you see a club or activity struggling with a group activity or plan of action, have them take a break and let them participate in a fun teambuilding exercise like “Helium Stick“
- Check out our Northwest 4-H Volunteer Google Site for more team-building activities and resources.
- Team building isn’t just for the youth! Consider planning a teambuilding workshop or a night of minute-to-win-it games with your youth vs volunteers or even a 4-H Family night with youth, parents/guardians, and volunteers. This will become a request for an annual event guaranteed!
Five Team Building Activities for “Forming”
The new 4-H year kicks off in just a few days, which means that most 4-H clubs or groups are in the “forming” stage. To help, below are five fun and easy activities you can do with your team to promote “forming.” For more activities and ideas to support all five stages of team building, download our free 4-H Team Building Handbook for a quick reference tool!
- Start your meeting with an easy get-to-know-you icebreaker like “The Superlative Game” in which youth line up based on their birthday, height or age without talking.
- Who’s in the Bag? Ask each person to select an object that represents something about themselves. You can have a variety of objects available for them to select from, or they can bring an item with them. Have each person place their item in the bag, then let each person take turns explaining why the object represents something about themselves.
- Common & Unique- Ask everyone to form a circle. Tell them that you will ask a series of questions, and if the question applies to them, they are to stand inside the circle. Ask questions like “I am the oldest child in my family,” or “I play a sport,” or “I have lived in another state.” This helps members of the group get to know things about other members that they can’t see with their eyes.
- Introductions- Pretend you are hosting a party where no one knows anyone else. Have everyone standing in no particular order. In a party spirit, walk up to one of your “guests” and introduce yourself by name. For example:
- “Hi, I’m Karly. What’s your name? Gabrielle? Hi, Gabrielle, glad to meet you. Come on, there’s someone I want you to meet.” You then take Gabrielle to meet another “guest.”
- “Hi, what’s your name? Paul? Hi, Paul; this is Gabrielle. Gabrielle, this is Paul.” Gabrielle and Paul play it up. They smile, shake hands and say “Glad to meet you.”
- Try to “introduce” everyone in three minutes.
- If you need to meet virtually, don’t skip the team-building activity. Try this activity, “Where Am I?”
By incorporating teambuilding activities into your 4-H delivery, you will be delivering enhanced educational experiential learning in order for our youth to engage in mentally, physically, and socially, fostering the development of essential life skills. To learn more about joining 4-H as a member or volunteer, please contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office, or visit http://florida4h.org.
Building A Team Within A 4-H Club. Ohio State University. https://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.230.6481&rep=rep1&type=pdf
Team Building Activity: Helium Stick. Guide, Inc. 2021. https://guideinc.org/2017/08/21/team-building-activity-helium-stick/
The Superlative Game. North Dakota 4-H Recreation Games & Activities. Page 11. https://www.ndsu.edu/fileadmin/4h/ClubMaterials/FJ825_Games___Activities.pdf
Tuckman, B. W. (1965). Developmental sequence in small groups. Psychological Bulletin, 63(6), 384–399.
Why Icebreakers? (2:17) – 4-H Military Partnerships Website – University of Florida/Florida 4-H. https://youtu.be/zWIkGgdEekM
Summer is right around the corner. As much as we all love the sunshine feeling on our face and body, too much of a good thing can be harmful! It is always important to remember our family’s well-being, take responsibility for our personal safety, and make healthy decisions, even while having a fun time. Here are some short sun safety reminders to make your summer a fun and enjoyable experience for you and your family members!
Plan Your Day Around the Clock
The sun shares its most harmful rays in the middle of the day so plan this time for indoor use. The sun’s rays are most harmful between the hours of 10 AM and 4 PM so make outdoor time in the early morning or early evening when it is less intense. This also keeps your food at safer temperatures as well so your ice (or you) won’t melt as fast.
Protect Your Body
Look for SPF 30 or higher sunscreen.
One of the easiest defenses against the sun is sometimes one of the most forgotten, sunscreen! Be sure to lather up in sunscreen BEFORE you go outside. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends liberally applying a sunscreen that is at least SPF 30 or higher, as these formulas will block UVA and UVB rays. Be sure to apply at least 30 minutes prior to going outside. Once outside, continue to apply sunscreen every two hours or after swimming. Not sure what kind of sunscreen blocks UVA and UVB rays? Look for a sunscreen that is SPF 30 or higher with the ingredients zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as these ingredients will do the job. Remember to coat your ears, neck, tops of feet, etc.
Remember to grab your sunglasses too! Your eyeballs are just as sensitive as your skin so blocking UVA and UBA rays from your eyes are important to. Fashionable sunglasses are great if you are into that but being able to protect your eyes is the goal.
Remember to keep your pets cool too!
Most everyone enjoys getting outside this time of year to soak up some sunshine and enjoy the beautiful day. In fact, it’s true that some amount of sunlight is healthy for your body and mind. However, as we know all too well sometimes, too much exposure can be detrimental and lead to sunburn, heat exhaustion and more. Thus, it is a good idea to find balance by setting a time limit on sun exposure, if possible. If time slips past you because you and your family are having too much fun, set an alarm as a friendly reminder. Make this your “shade time” for a water break, game of cards, or a brief nap. Be sure to always have an umbrella or tent on hand in case no shade is available.
It is very easy to get dehydrated in the summertime. Drink water throughout the day. Don’t wait until you get hot and thirsty. Drink water to maintain your hydration before it is depleted. This will help avoid those nasty summer headaches and tummy aches. Taking your pet with you? Don’t forget Fido’s water bowl too!
UV Bead Activity
Looking for a really cool lesson to teach your children about the risk factors associated with sun exposure and UV rays? Check out this 4-H activity 4-H + Me = Health: Sun Safety from Minnesota Extension Service’s Exploring Your Body, Helper’s Guide. In this activity, children can make their own beaded bracelets that change colors when exposed to UV light. This is a great way for children to understand UV light, cloud coverage, sunscreen SPFs and more!
UV Beads with no sun exposure.
4-H has plenty of educational programming, both outdoors and indoors, to keep your children engaged this summer! From gardening to robots, archery to grilling, 4-H has something for everyone. If you are looking for fun, educational activities during the summer while maintaining a safe environment for your child, please contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office, or visit http://florida4h.org
UV Beads with sun exposure.
A mission statement is an organization’s goals and the method(s) to achieve those goals. An organization’s vision statement is where that organization sees their position in society in the future. These two statements may be written separately or combined into one statement. Regardless, they actually refer to two separate facets of the organization and both are equally important. In this post, we’ll define both the 4-H Mission Statement and the 4-H Vision Statement and then share some ways how you can support 4-H in your local communities.
NATIONAL 4-H MISSION & VISION
Photo By National 4-H Council
National 4-H states its mission as “to provide meaningful opportunities for all youth and adults to work together to create sustainable community change.” 4-H uses caring adults to engage youth in educational activities through a learn-by-doing approach to provide positive youth development programming in order to introduce and strengthen essential life skills needed to be productive responsible citizens. This powerful mission has been achieved by 4-H across the globe by the employment of highly esteemed experts in the field of positive youth development trained in the application of successful volunteer management and program implementation. National 4-H sets forth to achieve their stated mission by employing these staff and volunteers to concentrate on three specific areas of focus, i.e. civic engagement and leadership, healthy living, and science.
National 4‑H commits its future success to serving millions more youth through the Cooperative Extension Service. In fact, National 4-H specifically states 10 million youth to be served by the year 2025. This vision is to be carried out by participating in the hands-on, learn-by-doing approach youth programming that 4-H has been successfully known for for over 100 years.
FLORIDA 4-H MISSION & VISION – A CLOSER LOOK
Florida 4-H Youth Development Program uses a learn-by-doing approach to help youth learn essential life skills in order to be successful leaders of tomorrow. This mission is accomplished by utilizing the expertise and resources of the University of Florida (UF) and Florida A&M (FAMU) Cooperative Extension Services, the state land-grant universities of Florida, to recruit and train caring adults into quality volunteers that can create safe and inclusive learning environments for youth.
Florida 4-H’s vision states that it will support the National 4-H mission to create positive change in youth, families, and communities. Although Florida 4-H does not specifically set a number of youth to be served by a specific time frame in its vision statement, it does set a goal in the future to be the leading youth program in the nation.
WHY IS IT SO IMPORTANT?
Photo By National 4-H Council
Mission and vision statements, in general, help to guide organizations through a structured plan to reach important short term and long-term goals, make great impacts, and be efficient in operations. They also hold the organization accountable to its stakeholders, clientele, supporters, etc. Without written mission and vision statements, organizations may not reach their full potential.
With 4-H, the mission and vision statements ensure that our organization remains true to the foundation on which it was built, to make the best better when it comes to positively and consistently impacting youth to be leaders of tomorrow. According to the 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development conducted by Tufts University young people in 4-H, “the structured out-of-school time learning, leadership experiences, and adult mentoring that young people receive through their participation in 4-H plays a vital role in helping them achieve success.” Research supports 4-H youth are more likely to:
- Attend college.
- Contribute to their communities.
- Participate in STEM programs.
- Make healthier choices.
WAYS YOU CAN SUPPORT THE 4-H MISSION & VISION:
As a parent, volunteer, and/or community member, below are five ways that you can get involved to support the 4-H mission and vision in your local community with little effort. You will feel good knowing that you gave a helping hand to make the best better!
- Get Involved as a 4-H Volunteer if you aren’t already (If you are, kudos to you!)
- Encourage other positive adult role models to get involved with their local 4-H. Set a goal to recruit this # of adults to volunteer in 2021-2022.
- Support your local 4-H through monetary contributions or in-kind donations. They are always in need of supplies to implement their hands-on programs.
- Share your 4-H experiences and successful impacts with your local community as often as you can so others are exposed to the wonderful world of 4-H. Speaking at your local civic clubs, church functions and other community events really helps 4-H reach as many youth and families as possible.
- As a 4-H parent or volunteer, set a goal to help recruit at least five new 4-H youth members in the 2021-2022 4-H Year for your local club or program to help 4-H achieve its vision of 10 million true leaders by 2025!
Photo By National 4-H Council
Currently, through more than 3,500 professionals, 4-H impacts more than 6 million youth and families and 500,000 youth and adult volunteers, thereby being one of the largest youth development programs in the nation still today. With the delivery method of experiential learning, youth are engaged mentally, physically, and socially, fostering the development of essential life skills towards the role of true leadership.
To learn more about joining 4-H as a member or volunteer, please contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office, or visit https://florida4h.ifas.ufl.edu/.