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The Difference Between Service Learning and Community Service

Youth and adults cleaning up their community

photo credit: National 4-H Council

One of the requirements for 4-H clubs to be chartered is annual participation in a service project because it helps youth develop compassion and empathy for others. This is an important step to help youth live our pledge “my heart to greater loyalty” and “my hands to greater service.”  Recently, the terms community service and service learning are being used interchangeably, but they are not the same. This post will explain the difference between the two and provide additional resources for 4-H parents, volunteers and club officers.

What is community service?

Community service is usually a “one and done” activity. It is often associated with short term volunteerism, and sometimes can be associated with court-mandated sentences. Community service includes things like a food drive, clothing drive, or litter pick up. These types of activities help youth apply the “heart” and “hands” parts of our pledge, but youth typically do not organize the activities; they are often done in collaboration with another organization, such as Toys for Tots, a local food pantry, or Adopt a Highway. Community service is a great way to introduce the concepts of giving back to the community and helping others. It is very appropriate for our younger 4-H members, who don’t yet have the critical thinking, decision making, and leadership skills to execute a service-learning project.

What is service learning?

Service learning engages not only the “heart” and “hands” but also the “head.”  Service learning is a process in which youth identify a need, develop solutions to address that need, implement a plan to put their solution into action, and reflect on the results of their action. Service learning should be planned and implemented by youth, with parents and volunteers supporting and guiding the process. Service learning is more appropriate for older youth who are ready to take on more responsibility. Service learning not only helps youth develop a sense of compassion, but it also helps them develop more independence.

So What’s the Difference?Community service vs service learning

For example, when a 4-H club decides to lead a food drive for the local pantry, they are contributing to the issue of food insecurity.  Food drives are an effective way to meet the immediate need for more food, or more nutritious food. Our annual Peanut Butter Drive is a great way for 4-Hers to get involved with food insecurity; the Florida Peanut Producers match what is collected and everything is donated to a local food pantry. However, if youth want to address the issue of food insecurity in a more systemic way, they might choose to apply GPS technology to map the food deserts in their community or county. Next, they might present their findings to county commissioners or the chamber of commerce. Together, they brainstorm solutions on how to address food insecurity issues in those food deserts, but increasing awareness, or finding partners to provide sources of nutritious food. After implementing solutions, they look back and reflect on what they did, what worked, and what could be improved for next time.

Download this one-page document to help explain the difference between community service and service learning. This is a great resource for volunteers, parents and club officers. Next week, we will share ideas for service learning and community service related to a variety of issues, that can be a great discussion starter for your club meetings this fall!

If you have a passion for civic engagement and making a difference in your community, consider sharing your passion and skills with youth. We need volunteers to help youth understand what it means to be engaged in their community, and volunteers to empower youth to make a difference locally. We match volunteers’ skills and schedules with our program. Contact your local UF IFAS Extension Office for more information.

Happy Flag Day- Learn about Flag Etiquette

photo of American and 4-H FlagGet your red, white and blue decorations out to celebrate Flag Day 2021. According to History.com Flag day began in 1885 when Bernard Cigrand, a Wisconsin teacher, who led his school in the first formal observance of the holiday. Both President Wilson, in 1916, and President Coolidge, in 1927 issued a presidential proclamation asking for June 14 to be observed as National Flag Day. In 1949 congress approved the nationals observance for the United States Flag to be honored in commemoration of the flag’s adoption June 14, 1777. Since that adoption there have been 27 different versions of the flag.

American Flags along a curb

Celebrate our Freedom

Why is flag day important? The American flag serves as a symbol of our nation and tells the story of America. It represents the freedom, perseverance, and growth of the United States. As a national symbol, it has rules that go along with the display and use of the flag. These rules are part of the U.S. Flag Code. The flag code is a set of rules and regulations that defines ways in which we give respect to the American flag. It includes how we should display, handle, care for, and dispose of the American flag. Our observance of this code is considered flag etiquette. Knowing these rules and the history of the American flag will help you demonstrate your patriotism and respect toward the sacrifices made for our country and freedom.

Displaying the flag

We would like to take this opportunity to share some important tips for displaying the American flag, and help you be a responsible citizen by knowing how to properly fly the stars and stripes. In inclement weather, the flag should not fly unless it is an all-weather flag. At night, lighting requirements are necessary, or the flag can only be displayed from sunrise to sunset. If the American flag flies with other flags, they cannot be larger or raised higher than the American flag. Additionally, the American flag should always be the first raised and the last lowered and should never touch the ground. Also the flag should never be carried horizontally, but always aloft and free.

In a time of national mourning, the flag flies at half-mast.  Half-mast is when you position the flag below the top of the staff – the exact measurement determined by the position of the flagpole. Doing so is a mark of respect for those who have lost their lives. Times when you fly a flag at half-mast include days like Memorial Day, Patriot’s Day, Veterans’ Day, and in the event of a death of a member or former member of the government. There are sites to receive alerts of when to fly half mast. The U.S. Defense Department says the flag should only be flown upside down “to convey a sign of distress or great danger.”

Presenting, folding, & storing the flag

Presentation of the American flag at an event also has requirements. One of the requirements includes removal of your hat during the flag presentation, raising, or lowering as a sign of respect. The same is true for reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. If an American flag is present on a stage or during a speech, correct placement is ahead of the audience on the stage and to the speaker’s right as he/she faces the audience. There are rules how to properly store the American flag. The proper folding of the American flag is in the shape of a triangle with the union (blue spangled section) visible. Folding the flag is tricky, but Indiana 4-H has a great flag folding activity that helps youth and adults gain practice. This activity teaches the step-by-step process on how to properly fold the American flag. There are some tips that you want to keep in mind while learning or teaching how to fold the flag. It takes two people to fold the flag, and each person should start by holding the short sides of the flag, helping make sure that the flag is tight. When folding, you want to fold the flag in half lengthwise two times before you start “cornering.” Cornering is when you start to fold the flag into triangles, beginning at the striped end of the flag. Once you have it properly folded triangularly you will want to store it in a well-ventilated area to keep it dry in order to prevent mildew. Remember, When storing the flag, it is important to keep it dry, folded properly and on an elevated shelf or surface so it will not touch the ground.

Caring for the flag

You may want to consider ways to make your flag last longer. Often, the flag might just need a good cleaning or a minor repair. Ways to increase the longevity of your flag include getting it cleaned, taking it down during bad weather, and making minor repairs as soon as you see damage. The American Legion says you can wash your flag at home or take it to the dry cleaners. If you choose to wash at home, mollymaid recommends using a mild detergent and either hand washing or on the delicate cycle with cold water. Dry the flag by hanging it on a clothesline or letting it lay on a flat surface.

You need to retire a flag or remove it from service when it is in a condition of being worn beyond repair, has large rips or tears and is no longer a fitting emblem for display. It is important to retire the American flag a respectful manner. There is a protocol for flag retirement, providing a dignified way of destroying American flags no longer fit for display. The preferred method of disposal is a flag retirement ceremony. There are several organizations within local communities who collect and perform these ceremonies, such as American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, 4-H Camps, Boy Scouts and more.

Flag retirement

If you want to dispose of the flag yourself, you can do a retirement ceremony by burning the flag or by recycling it. The protocol for a burning ceremony is to have a fire that is large and intense enough to burn the flag completely. The steps include placing the flag on the fire while observers salute the flag, recite the Pledge of Allegiance, and have a moment of silence. Upon completion, safely extinguish the fire. Beware of burning synthetic flags, such as nylon, can produce dangerous fumes. If you have a synthetic flag consider a different method of retirement like recycling your flag. To do this, cut apart your flag by separating the 13 stripes and leaving the union (blue spangled section) intact. Once cut off, the flag is no longer the official flag allowed for disposal of the parts. Upon the completion of the recycling, you can do a brief ceremony paying tribute to the stars and stripes before sending it off. We encourage you to take the fabric scraps to any local textile recycling drop-off.

Flag etiquette is not a typical classroom lesson, but it only takes a moment to learn the various regulations under the U.S. Flag Code. We encourage you to take time yourself to find more information to help further your knowledge and understanding of the flag etiquette. There are many great resources that are available online:

From this article, we hope that you learned of the importance of the life cycle of the American flag. When and how to properly display, store, care, and dispose of this national symbol. Enjoy Flag Day in 2021 and show your pride in our county by showing proper respect for the American flag and displaying it proudly or by displaying the Red, White and Blue in front of your house!

Written by Zyreshia Jackson and Paula Davis

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

Public Relations for 4-H Clubs

4-H Public Relations CalendarLast week, we wrote about ways that marketing can support 4-H clubs, projects and individual members. Marketing is the first step towards public relations. While marketing helps establish general interest in your club, project or program, public relations is about building relationships with people in your community to establish and maintain a favorable public image.

While the 4-H agent works to maintain a favorable overall public image of 4-H, clubs, volunteers, parents and members contribute to that image whether they realize it or not. Why should parents, volunteers and youth be concerned with 4-H public relations?

  1. The 4-H program image reflects on its faculty, staff, volunteers and families (and vice versa)
  2. Positive relationships with the public can open doors and opportunities for 4-H youth
  3. A positive image attracts positive people who are willing to work hard to “make the best better”

How can you support positive 4-H public relations?

  • Share your story– You can support a positive reputation and image of 4-H by sharing your story as a volunteer, parent, member or alumni. It doesn’t have to be a formal presentation either. When 4-H comes up, share why you are a part of it, how it benefits you and how to get involved.
  • Give back to the community– Annually, 4-H asks members and volunteers to give their “hands to larger service” through service learning. Members identify a problem and plan to solve that problem through service. When clubs serve their community, it promotes a positive image of the 4-H program, club and everyone involved. Most importantly, youth are learning generosity and compassion by making their community a better place. Check out this recent post for some COVID-safe service project ideas.
  • Engage with the public– While large community events are not encouraged during these current COVID times, you can promote your club and the 4-H program by tying into National Days. For example, if you are part of a livestock club, you can read a book about agriculture to promote Ag Literacy Week, post your video on social media, and invite teachers to share the video with their students. Not only does this activity reflect highly on your club, it also promotes the agriculture industry. There are lots of opportunities throughout the year to tie into national days. For inspiration, 4-H PR Calendar.

Promoting a positive 4-H image sets the stage for advocacy, which develops support for your club or program. It’s important for volunteers, parents and members to be strong advocates for the 4-H program to secure support from your local decisionmakers and donors. Next week’s post will focus specifically on advocacy, which uses a positive image to take action to support your club.

Marketing, Public Relations and Advocacy: A Pyramid of Support

Pyramid explaining the relationship between marketing (base), public relations (middle) and advocacy (tip of pyramid)

Marketing provides a foundation for public relations and advocacy. All three actions have implications for volunteers, parents and members.

The terms marketing, public relations and advocacy are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same. However, all three of these actions support our 4-H clubs and projects. Over the next couple of weeks, we will break down each term and talk about how 4-H volunteers and members can use these actions to benefit their clubs and projects.

Marketing is simply the act of generating interest in your 4-H club or project. It can be through word of mouth, media, or displays at community events or businesses. Public relations goes a step further than just generating interest; it is about promoting a club or program’s reputation and image. Advocacy is the most advanced action of the three, and it is the act of using a program’s reputation and value to generate public and even monetary support.

At first glance, you might think that marketing is the responsibility of the 4-H agent, and it is (at least for the total 4-H program). However, marketing has important implications at the club and individual member levels that volunteers, parents and youth should consider:

  1. Marketing the Club- recruit additional members and volunteers
  2. Marketing the Project- generate interest in project sales or secure a buyer for a market animal project
  3. Marketing your Skills- use 4-H experiences to market workforce skills for your resumé and prepare for school, scholarship or job interviews.

Marketing the 4-H Club

In order to be chartered, clubs must have a minimum of five youth from at least two different families. Marketing is a great way to recruit members for new clubs, but sometimes club rosters may dwindle due to circumstances beyond the volunteer’s or parent’s control such as a change in job, move to a different community, schedule change or even a change in school. A static display at the local library or school or even a press release or social media post can generate new members for your club.

Another reason why volunteers may want to engage in marketing relates to diversity and inclusion. 4-H is a three-way partnership between the federal, state and local governments. As such, 4-H is a non-discriminatory program and annually, 4-H programs must provide evidence that their programs are open to all. If your club is not representative of your community’s demographic make-up, your 4-H agent may ask you to conduct “All Reasonable Efforts.” This is a process to verify that the club has made efforts to engage youth who are representative of their community. Your local 4-H agent can help you identify opportunities to market your club and record those efforts on the “All Reasonable Efforts” checklist.

Marketing the 4-H Project

One of the great things about 4-H is it is a safe place for youth to learn about business and entrepreneurship. Many (if not most) 4-H projects offer opportunities for youth to learn financial literacy skills. Whether it is selling an animal for food, or so that other youth can start a herd or flock, there are opportunities for youth to market their project to generate sales or secure a buyer for their animal. Check out this website from Penn State on tips for identifying potential buyers, drafting a letter to buyers and how to prepare your personal sales pitch.

Marketing Your Skills

To be prepared for work and life, 4-H youth need to learn how to present themselves to potential employers. It can be hard to get that first job or internship when you have no previous experience. Use your 4-H project, leadership and citizenship experiences!  The 4-H “Marketing You” worksheet can help you identify marketable workforce skills you have learning through your 4-H experiences to make you a competitive applicant for a job, scholarship or entry into college or trade school. The Florida 4-H Next Stop Job program walks you through how to: