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Delegation Skills for 4-H Members & Volunteers

 What is Delegation?

Delegation can be one of the most difficult leadership skills to master.  Otherwise capable leaders often say that the idea of delegation is a bit scary.  What if I delegate a task and it does not get done? What if I give someone a job to do and it does not get done exactly the way I envisioned? In the following paragraphs, you will read about strategies that you can adopt to become a leader who can delegate effectively with confidence.

What is delegation? Let’s start with the meaning of the word. The word “delegate” can be used as a noun or a verb.  In the world of 4-H, we use the word frequently in both forms.  We may send a delegate or contingent of delegates to conferences or meetings to represent our organization.  The focus of this article will be on the verb form of delegate.  According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the act of delegating means “to entrust to another, to assign responsibility or authority.” In 4-H, leaders are encouraged to delegate to team members, including both volunteers and youth.

As a 4-H leader, learning how to delegate will be instrumental for your clubs and club members in several ways.   In your role as a club leader, you will want to delegate responsibilities and tasks to other volunteers as well as youth. Additionally, teaching 4-H youth how to delegate imparts a valuable leadership skill.

Mastering the Art of Delegation

Mastering the art of delegation is a key time management skill for 4-H club leaders. Learning to delegate tasks to other adult volunteers as well as club youth will contribute to the success of your club and support your longevity as a volunteer leader.  The one sure way to become overwhelmed as a 4-H volunteer is to make the error of trying to do everything yourself.

Skillful delegation is one of the hallmarks of a transformational leader.  In 4-H, the essential elements that serve as the foundation of our positive youth development programs are categorized into four key concepts: belonging, independence, mastery, and generosity.

When a leader entrusts a task to another volunteer or youth, the person feels trusted and valued.  Delegation is one way to help establish a sense of belonging. Volunteers and youth alike will feel like an important part of the group because they have been given a role through delegation.  Youth who are entrusted to complete a task have the chance to experience independence. Leaders who delegate also give youth an opportunity to demonstrate mastery of important life skills.  Practicing delegation in the club leadership role is a way to empower other volunteers as well as youth to experience and practice generosity through contributing time and talent to the organization and the larger community.

A SMART Way to Delegate

Delegation is a key element in setting and achieving a group’s SMART goals. The SMART goals acronym describes a process for goal setting that can be used with volunteers and youth.

S – Specific
M – Measureable
A – Attainable (or actionable)
R – Relevant (or realistic)
T – Time-bound

While SMART goals can be used for individuals to plan out projects, SMART goals are also a helpful tool to use with groups as a SMART way to delegate! A 4-H leader can use the elements of the SMART goal process as a guide to assigning tasks to other volunteers or 4-H youth.  Leaders who learn to delegate goal-oriented tasks that follow the SMART formula will find that objectives are successfully achieved.

Another way to think about delegation as a process is the P.A.T. system.  P.A.T. is an acronym that stands for Purpose, Action, and Timeframe. To delegate effectively, a leader should communicate the purpose or “why” a person is being entrusted with a task or objective.  The amount of detail you provide about the actions needed to complete the task depends on the level of autonomy you want to give the person who receives a delegated task.  As a club leader who wants to foster independence in your club members, how you determine the autonomy level to give youth is a critical step in developing young leaders. As you become more confident in your delegation skills, you may provide fewer action details and give other volunteers or youth the opportunity to make independent decisions about how to accomplish a delegated task.  Finally, establishing a timeframe for completing the assigned task gives a defined time-bound end point to the delegation process, similar to the “T” in SMART goal setting.

For youth leadership development, delegation can be a learning experience in two ways.  One way to help youth learn leadership skills is to entrust them with tasks to complete. The second way to help youth learn delegation is to assign authority to lead a team working on a project that will require delegation task for successful completion.  Teaching delegation skills is one way club leaders can enable youth to act as leaders.

Strategies to Teach Delegation Skills

In the EDIS document Exemplary Youth Leadership Series: Enable Others to Act, two exercises are presented that provide opportunities for youth to learn and practice delegation skills.  The activities outlined below appear in the linked EDIS document. These activities may also be adapted for use with adult volunteers.

Activities

Trust Builders—Participants will create an environment of trust.

Materials: Scissors, tape, pipe cleaners, paper, markers, straws, etc.

Group size: Divide the group into groups of 4–5 people.

Before starting this activity:

  • Make sure you do not mention anything about trust to the participants.
  • Gather a list of random supplies, but make sure you have a limited quantity of everything for the size of the group.
  • Create a list of tasks based on the supplies that are present. For example, cut out a green heart. Make a flag out of yellow paper and a straw. Write everyone’s initials on the flag in black marker. The number of tasks can align with the time limitations of the overall activity (i.e., more tasks, more time).
  • Divide the supplies into the number of groups present. Ensure that each group does NOT have all of the materials necessary to complete the task. Only have one set of critical items (tape, scissors, etc.).

Instructions:

  1. Tell the participants they are in a race.
  2. In a moment, they will be given a list of tasks to complete. The first team to get all of their tasks done correctly wins.
  3. Hand out a list of tasks and each group’s supplies.*

*These instructions are purposely vague so participants realize that they need to share resources to accomplish all tasks. This may not be immediately evident; however, participants will identify this is the only means to complete the activity. Do not give them parameters on how to share or barter to ensure the task is completed.

Wrap-Up Questions:

  1. How are we feeling after completing that experience?
  2. Winning group—what was your strategy?
  3. Could you have completed any of this on your own?
  4. Did everyone share equally and honestly with each other? Why?
  5. In what scenarios do we need to lean on the support of others to accomplish our tasks?

Photo Scavenger Hunt—Participants will demonstrate delegation.

Materials: Smartphones or cameras

Group size: Divide the group into equal-sized teams.

Instructions:

  1. Create a list of photos to take that are relatively easy to locate or find (e.g., a trash can, someone with red hair, a photo of a flower, participants spelling 4-H with their arms/torso, etc.).
  2. Tell the participants they are competing against the other groups to complete the scavenger hunt.
  3. Go over safety precautions or rules depending on location.
  4. Give youth the list.
  5. The first team with all of the correct photos wins.

Modification: If smartphones or cameras are not accessible, the photos could be replaced with items.

Wrap-Up Questions:

  1. The winning team—what was your strategy? Did you have one person take all of the photos or did you give each person a different task?
  2. What would have happened if we gave each person a different item they were in charge of? Do you think we would have been more efficient?
  3. Why is it important for us as leaders to be able to give other people tasks?
  4. How can we delegate responsibilities when we are faced with challenges?
Next Steps

There are many opportunities for youth and volunteers to develop leadership skills such as the art of delegation over the course of their 4-H experience.  Incorporate one of the activities described in this article into a 4-H club meeting or volunteer training! For more information, training opportunities, resources, and opportunities to become involved with 4-H, please contact your local UF/IFAS Extension office.

Resources

Delegation

Delegation defined…and applied

Great Leaders Perfect the Art of Delegation

How to Delegate Effectively: 7 Tips for Managers

How to Start Delegating Tasks Effectively (Step-by-Guide)

Seven Strategies for Delegating Better and Getting More Done

 

 

Strategies for Teaching Time Management in 4-H

Toolkit for teaching time management picture of a clock and scheduleThe “secret sauce” for successful 4-H clubs is often the not-so-secret time management skill of the club leader.  Time management is a learned skill.   This week’s  blog post will explore strategies for time management. One important detail about time management – what works for one person may not work for everyone.  Choosing time management strategies that suit the person increases the likelihood that these skills will become permanent, frequently used tools in a personal “toolbox.”

Teaching Time Management Skills

One strategy to learn a time management skill is to teach it.   Both club members and volunteer leaders can benefit from learning and practicing time management skills. Youth and adults alike can begin with some basic elements of planning to start developing time management skills.

To complete a time management activity during a club meeting, the following items will be needed: a weekly schedule template, a Post It adhesive flipchart or a white board/chalkboard, pencils/pens, scratch paper for note taking.

Write the five elements of S.M.A.R.T goals on the flipchart or white board:

S – Specific
M – Measureable
A – Attainable (or actionable)
R – Relevant (or realistic)
T – Time-bound

During this activity, participants will learn about time management, scheduling, and goal setting.   Begin the activity with a task.  Ask adults and youth to consider and write out their schedule for an average week. Use a weekly schedule template so that everyone can use a visual organizer to describe their individual schedules.  There are a number of free schedule templates online.   One free option is available from Microsoft office: https://templates.office.com/en-us/schedules.

Once everyone has completed their schedule, ask each participant to write down a personal goal related to school or 4-H.   Then, explain the S.M.A.R.T goal concept.   Next, ask everyone to consider their goal within the S.M.A.R.T framework.  Does their goal fit the five elements of a S. M.A.R.T goal? Why or why not? If their goal needs to be adjusted, what changes should be made?

After discussing several different goals, ask everyone when the time is scheduled to work on achieving this goal.  Spoiler alert: very few of the participants will include anything related to the goal in the initial weekly schedule draft.

During the next phase of this activity, introduce one or more time management strategies from the blog resource list to the group. Engage participants in discussion about which strategies might be effective for them than others.

Setting Individual Member and Club Goals

Conclude the meeting by setting short and long term goals.  What do members want to accomplish by the next club meeting?  What goals do club members want to achieve for the year? Toolkit for teaching time management picture of a clock and scheduleTime management is a skill that can be practiced and improved throughout the 4-H club year.  Be sure to schedule in time to report on progress toward goals as part of 4-H club business meetings.

Resources

 

4-H Citizenship in Action: Learning the Advocacy Process

Citizenship, sometimes referred to as civic engagement, is a pillar of the 4-H program.  A key part of guiding youth to develop as citizens is helping them to find and use their voice.  One way to help youth in this discovery and skill building process is through learning advocacy. The simplest way to define advocacy is to think about it as being a process of defending or promoting a cause. When advocacy becomes linked with civic engagement, youth can become engaged in a powerful experiential learning process.

Advocacy Opportunities

4-H members have several opportunities to learn and apply advocacy skills in programs such as 4-H Day at the Capitol, 4-H Legislature, and the National 4-H Conference. However, advocacy can be an important part of the community club experience for all 4-H youth.

In 4-H, youth have opportunities to learn communication and leadership skills that can help them to become effective advocates for themselves and others. A community service project may involve an advocacy component.   For example, youth in one county participated in a community clean up effort.  The youth were assigned to clean a small park.  While they were cleaning the park, they noticed that trash containers were not located in visible locations.

After the clean up project, youth discussed the park conditions at their next club meeting.  The youth started discussing ways to improve the park and to help discourage littering. Their club leader introduced the SMART goals planning process to the club. The officers led the club members through the SMART process to develop a plan.

Putting SMART Goals to Work

Through the SMART planning process, the club took several important advocacy steps:

  • Identified and researched an issue,
  • Engaged in goal setting and planning,
  • Reached out to decisionmakers,
  • Presented information including possible solutions.

As a result of their experience, 4-H members learned how to address a community issue, ways to engage key decisionmakers, and saw their actions make an impact when county officials added trash containers in visible locations along with public signage.

Advocacy Learning Opportunities

4-H March for Health is an event that advocates for living a more active lifestyle

4-H Virtual 5K advocates for making small changes for a more healthy lifestyle

Opportunities to have youth engage in hands on advocacy experiences may involve community problem-solving.  Youth can also learn advocacy skills by working to raise awareness about issues.  For example, February is American Heart Month.  Youth can engage in advocacy about heart health in several ways:

  • Wear red and encourage others to wear red to raise awareness about heart health.
  • Set exercise goals such as a walking goal to help improve heart health and challenge others to join your effort.
  • Promote heart healthy nutrition by asking local restaurants to feature a special healthy menu item during February.
  • Ask the county commission or city council to issue a proclamation for American Heart Month.

American Heart Month is just one example of healthy living focused advocacy.  Each month of the year has several associated health awareness campaigns. By choosing to advocate for better health, 4-H members can address two pillars at the same time: advocacy and healthy living. You can also tie this campaign into our 4-H Virtual 5K, which occurs every March and encourages youth and adults to walk or run.

Celebrate 4-H and Practice Advocacy Skills

National 4-H Week is celebrated every October and offers a great way for youth to develop advocacy skills by raising awareness about 4-H.   Ideas may include but are not limited to writing letters to the local paper, securing a prominent spot to set up a 4-H exhibit, requesting a proclamation from local government officials, or engaging in a community service project.

Tips for a successful advocacy learning experience:

  • Start planning early.
  • Use SMART goal planning process.
  • Remember to celebrate success and say thank you.

For more information about 4-H programs and additional advocacy resources, contact your local UF/IFAS Extension office.

 

Resources

4-H Project Learning

https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/4H/4H34300.pdf

National Awareness Months

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/health-awareness-months#march

Strategies for Engaging and Communicating with Elected Officials

https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/wc324

 

 

 

4-H Horse Club Goes Virtual:  Wakulla 4-H Bits & Bridles

4-H Horse Club Goes Virtual: Wakulla 4-H Bits & Bridles

Youth grooming a horse. UF/IFAS Photo: Sally Lanigan.

Across Florida, 4-H clubs have adopted creative ways to stay connected while social distancing
practices are in place. The Wakulla 4-H Bits and Bridles Horse Club, like other 4-H clubs across Florida, ceased in-person activities in mid-March.  During the regular program year, the Wakulla 4-H Bits and Bridles Club met monthly for a club meeting that included activities focused on equine science, leadership development, and hands-on skill building. While horseback riding was not a part of every club meeting, most club meetings included some sort of hands-on activity with horses.  Club leaders who already had an active Facebook group for their club families, considered how to stay engaged in the face of a prolonged pause in hands-on, face-to-face meetings.

Staying Connected

In Wakulla, the 4-H Bits and Bridles Horse Club has established a welcoming, inclusive environment for both youth with and without horses of their own. After the pause on in-person programming went into effect, Bits and Bridles volunteer leader, Julie Dennis, communicated with youth members and their families via email, sending the following message: “Given the current need to promote safety in our community, we’ll be taking a pause from in-person Bits and Bridles Meetings. Don’t worry though, as soon we can, we’ll get back to our monthly meetings. In the meantime, let’s use our Facebook group as a way to stay connected!”

Julie’s communication was followed by a series of video and photo sharing by adult volunteers and youth members in the private Facebook group for the club, including a challenge to demonstrate a horse-related skill with or without a horse at home.  Youth were asked to post, with parent permission or assistance, at least one thing to the Facebook group that they were doing while at home to learn more about horses. The instructions urged youth to post a picture or video engaged in an activity to learn more about horses.

Group members responded by sharing videos demonstrating how to practice several skills with items they had at home: roping livestock and how to use different types of tack. Other youth shared videos demonstrating how to properly care for horse hooves and how to groom a horse. Several youth demonstrated riding activities.

 

Four Ideas to Stay Engaged with 4-H at Home

Activity ideas were provided to parents to share with youth members. The ideas below were collected  by club leader, Julie Dennis, and reviewed by 4-H Agent, Rachel Pienta. Each activity is shared below using language close to or similar to what was shared with 4-H families via email.


Learn a new drill or pattern.

If you have a horse, work on riding in a circle and just the same steps every time at a walk, trot and then collected lope. Dirt lots make a great place to do this because you can retrace your steps and see where your horse has been. Once you master this exercise, work on a serpentine or start by making a small circle and then gradually get bigger. For ideas, get your parents to help you use Pinterest and type in “Horse Drills.” The possibilities are endless. Get someone to take a video and share with us on Facebook!

If you don’t have a horse, you can participate too! Now is the time to get that barrel pattern down. This website has a great summary of the barrel pattern. You can also try your hand at the pole bending pattern. Find some objects at your house (rocks, chairs, whatever you can find outside) and set up these patterns. Then run them yourself & ask a parent to take video for you!


Learn how to clean your tack while practicing the parts of a saddle.
leather saddle sitting on fence

Dry leather can get cracked and brittle.

Spring cleaning! Break out your tack with some good saddle soap and get to cleaning. Remember, this is an important part of being safe when you ride. Dry leather can get cracked and brittle. Anyone who has been around horse shows long enough has seen what happens when an off billet strap breaks. You wind up in the dirt! Not only is this a safety hazard but it can cost you an otherwise very nice run.  These are two very good reasons to make sure your tack stays clean.

If you don’t have a horse – there are still ways to learn! There are videos that you can learn from online.  Ask a parent to help you search for videos on YouTube.

 

 

Start your 4-H Horse Project Record Book!

Now is the time to start on horse projects. A very popular and great project for all kids whether or not you own a horse, is to complete the 4-H Horse Project Record Book. This can be downloaded online. If you don’t have a horse, you can still participate. Make up your horse’s name and then research the information you’ll need to complete each section.

In the case of our club youth, members were encouraged to use online resources to research prices for supplies. Youth without a horse were offered a match with a 4-H Bits & Bridles mentor.

youth coloring in parts of horse diagram

Youth coloring a horse diagram activity sheet.


Build Horse Curriculum into Homeschooling.   

The National 4-H program has great curriculum available for all age ranges online. Try building in one horse lesson a week and then keeping a journal about what you’ve learned. This activity can be a great way to keep learning through the summer too!

For more information about 4-H clubs and activities in your community, or to volunteer with 4-H, please contact your local UF/ IFAS County Extension Office.

*“Please note the picture was taken prior to our challenges with Covid-19 and we encourage people to social distance and wear a mask for the personal safety of self and others.”

Camp Helped Wakulla 4-H Graduating Senior Become a Leader

Camp Helped Wakulla 4-H Graduating Senior Become a Leader

On the boat at Camp Timpoochee

Leah with other counselors at Camp Timpoochee

Leah Lewis has been a devoted 4-H camper for the last ten years. She attended her first week of summer at the age of eight and was hooked. Leah counted the days and years until she could join the ranks of her heroes – the 4-H camp cabin counselors.

Since ninth grade, Leah has served as a camp counselor – leading a cabin of 4-H youth during a week or more of residential camp. Her service in this capacity has been exemplary. Leah’s accomplishment as a counselor earned her an invitation to serve in a leadership role for the annual Marine Camp. This invite-only opportunity is only given to the best of our 4-H camp counselors.


From 4-H Camp to County and State Leadership Opportunities
Youth sitting at a desk

Leah in the FL House of Representatives chamber in Tallahassee

In eleventh grade, Leah took her 4-H involvement to another level when she became part of our Teen District Leadership Council. She served as president for the Wakulla 4-H Teen Leadership Club and led the club to apply for and complete a 4-H Pride Grant Project to do county clean up after Hurricane Michael.

During her senior year of high school, Leah also served on the 4-H State Executive Board. In this role, she planned the annual Legislative Day at the state capitol. Her efforts helped produced a successful 4-H Day at the Capitol experience for over 800 youth and their families from throughout Florida.

Leah had this to say about the impacts of 4-H on her personal development, “4-H has prepared me for what it’s like to be away from family and being independent for yourself. It’s taught me to think outside the box and allow me to grow as a person.”

Her favorite 4-H experience was attending the Southern Region Teen Leadership Conference. Leah said, “My favorite experience so far has been SRTLC. I enjoyed meeting all kinds of people in the south and I loved giving back to the community with our bag pack project.”

Reflecting on her time in 4-H, Leah’s message to other youth thinking about 4-H offered this advice, “I would tell them that 4-H is a safe place and a second home to anyone. They could learn many activities to help with everyday life and find lifelong friendships!”


Perspective from a Proud Parent

Leah’s mother, Angela, said being part of 4-H did wonderful things for her daughter, “Without a doubt, one of the best decisions I have made was allow Leah to be part of 4-H. The leadership, work ethic, responsibility and team building skills she has learned, will help her in her future endeavors. 4-H has given Leah the confidence and the ability to be able to meet more people and form many friendships. She has obtained important leadership skills and is now confident with public speaking and leading group projects. 4-H has instilled a great work ethic into Leah with projects that require time management, dedication, and hard work. Leah has been a camp counselor for the past 4 years and has worked as a gymnastics coach at IGG for the past 2 ½ years. Leah has really enjoyed being on many committees including 4-H Day at the Capital and CCS. Leah will truly miss being part of 4-H and going to summer camp when she starts college this fall.”

Wakulla County 4-H is proud of Leah Lewis.  From organizing service projects to planning teen retreats for her peers, Leah has shown she has the capacity to lead others. Her work ethic has enabled her to hold a job, play sports, continue an active role in 4-H, and maintain her grades.  We look forward to the many successes she will make in her future endeavors.

To find out more information about 4-H programs that can offer essential life skills such as independence, organizational skills, and goal setting, to your children or to volunteer with 4-H, please contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office, or visit http://florida4h.org.