About Mary Arnold

I am a professor in the School of Social and Behavioral Health Sciences in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences, and a youth development specialist working with the 4-H Youth Development Program at Oregon State University. Recently, I have been working on the development and testing of a model for 4-H youth development called the 4-H Thriving Model. This blog is dedicated to building a space where youth development educators can share how they are putting the model into practice in their work with youth.

I am sure  by now that you might think I have disappeared from the blogosphere, and to a certain extent you would not be wrong. I have been underground for a few months, navigating the dizzying amount of teaching and travel that seems to show up on my calendar every spring. As I near the end of this schedule I am finding time to come up for air and reflect on all that I have learned over the past few months. One advantage of a packed travel schedule is a lot of time on airplanes and in hotel rooms to catch up on reading, followed by the resultant thinking and sorting through that all that reading entails. I am left feeling much more informed about our field of youth development and how it applies to helping youth thrive, and also a wee bit overwhelmed trying to decide how best to share all this wonderful information! Continue reading

With our Minnesota 4-H Colleagues

You have probably noticed that my blog posts have been pretty infrequent since the first of the year – but don’t worry, I have LOADS of material to blog about, so stay tuned. The biggest reason for my lack of posting is due to so much momentum that is moving the 4-H Thriving Model forward. The stars have aligned and the work has been constant and at times intense, but always, always, always, the most rewarding work I have ever done.

I journeyed to Minnesota last Sunday to give a keynote address at the Minnesota 4-H “Youth and U” Conference on Monday. Many of you know that Minnesota 4-H has been a leader in many ways, but in two key areas in particular: The work they have accomplished on engaging “first generation” 4-H members, particularly from under served enclaves, and their focus on assessing and improving 4-H program quality. We all have a lot to learn from this great work! But on Monday all of Minnesota 4-H focused on the 4-H Thriving model, and I was delighted to give both the keynote address and a follow-up workshop. In Continue reading

We shall not cease from exploration

And the end of all our exploring

Will be to arrive where we started

And know the place for the first time

~ T.S. Eliot, Little Gidding, The Four Quartets

Last week was finals week, and this morning will bring a blissful calm to campus as students take a break before the final push onward through spring term and the completion of another academic year. All last week tent kiosks popped up along Monroe street with banners announcing text book buy-backs. When I see these kiosks I ponder much longer we will have printed texts, which as a book Continue reading

Mary Cornelius Photography

Like many children, my step-daughter struggled with the transition to middle school. Going from a small neighborhood grade school, where more often than not she had the same teacher for two years in a row, to the larger, less personal middle school, with its expectations for greater autonomy, left her feeling alone, overwhelmed, and uncertain. Trying to find ways to help her navigate the situation, I asked if there was a teacher to whom she was drawn, and with whom she might be able to share her struggle. At first she replied with a series of less than plausible reasons why asking a teacher for help would not work, and when she realized I wasn’t buying fully into her ideas she finally said in exasperation “don’t you remember what it was like? Wasn’t there anyone you were afraid of when you were my age?” In that very moment I was transported back fully to when I was near her age, and yes, yes indeed, there was such a person. MB. She managed the local stable where I took riding lessons. Continue reading

Intrepid little daffodil in my front yard

This morning brought another round of snow to town. With it came that lovely quiet that happens when everything is still very white and fresh, before the neighborhood kids wake and realize it is a snow day. Soon, the streets and yards will be filled with children making the most of this late burst of winter, and I will have the pleasure of watching them play through the windows of my home office.

On our way back from our morning walk I couldn’t help but notice all the signs of spring – the small buds on the trees, winter Daphne all pink and ready to burst forth, the bunches of bright daffodils tucked up against the wall of my neighbor’s house where the sun reaches most of the day and warms the soil faster than anywhere else. And in my own yard, the little shoots of bulb flowers standing a few inches tall against the white snow. When I walked out to fill the bird feeders, I noticed how many signs of spring are emerging from the ground up.

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