Accelerating leadership

John Lawrence’s message from Sept. 24, 2018

Sometimes we need to accelerate to get where we want to go. This is true when driving down a highway, but it’s also true in ISU Extension and Outreach when we’re trying to connect with Iowans we haven’t yet reached. For three years now, 4-H has been offering culturally based youth leadership accelerators to young people who haven’t experienced our youth development programs. It’s an academic way of saying we’re placing these kids on the fast track – building skills to improve their college and career readiness, addressing achievement or opportunity gaps, and encouraging them to use their skills to shape Iowa’s future. Did you know?

  • Culturally based youth leadership accelerators use cultural strengths to introduce youth to 4-H and Iowa State. The Ujima and AAPI Retreat, Sept. 28-30 on campus and at Clover Woods, provides youth in grades 8-12 the opportunity to experience the university and explore 4-H healthy living, STEM, civic engagement, leadership, and communication and the arts programs through an African, Asian and Asian/African-American perspective.
  • The Maize Retreat, offered in the spring, celebrates Latino and Native American cultures through keynote speakers, cultural entertainment, educational workshops and meeting other youth from across Iowa.
  • Youth attend as a group from their county, so they register, travel and participate together. After they return home, they can apply what they’ve learned together, increasing the likelihood that they’ll continue in their county 4-H program.
  • Youth in grades 8-12 from any background are welcome to participate in 4-H leadership accelerators.

Data from the first three years show that these accelerators have brought 686 young leaders of color into Iowa 4-H. In some cases, the youth have joined existing 4-H clubs and learning communities. Many more have worked with volunteers to develop new culturally based clubs and participate in other state 4-H leadership opportunities, including State 4-H Council and National 4-H Conference. Accelerator graduates also have helped lead statewide programming.

One in five K-12 youth in Iowa is of color and our 4-H membership should mirror this trend. We will continue to strengthen our core of clubs, curriculum and volunteers, and we will continue to actively recruit new participants. We are committed to being inclusive and welcoming, and to fulfilling the national 4-H goal of having members, volunteers and staff who reflect Iowa’s population.

More notes

  • The Internal Communications Task Force met Sept. 17 and the executive summary from the meeting is posted on Cybox.
  • I’m visiting two regions this week: Sept. 25, Region 15, and Sept. 26, Region 16.
  • The CALS P&S Council is hosting an ice cream social Oct. 4, 1:30-3 p.m. in the Kildee Hall Pavilion. Meet and greet the council representatives and share comments and concerns. RSVP so they can stock enough Dairy Science Club ice cream.

— John D. Lawrence
Iowa State University Vice President for Extension and Outreach

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