On Growing Hope

This morning began like most mornings as I awoke at 5am and headed out the door with my dog Romey to meet my friend and colleague, who is also my neighbor, for our morning walk. Before Roberta moved to our neighborhood, and long before I had Romey, I still walked in the early morning by myself. Perhaps there is a little motivation in that our walk circles by Starbucks, but I am not one to judge or deny coffee as a motivator for getting going each day!

I have been walking before dawn since I can remember, and one thing I often tell myself is that if I can maintain walking through the darkest days of the year, I Continue reading

On Stretching to Develop Grit

Downward Gritty Kitty

I don’t know about you, but this Season Of Busy is beginning to catch up with me. No matter how determined I start into late November planning not to get too busy, I seem always to end up in the same busy place. I think my inability to stick to my non-busy plan is stuff for another post, however!

The first thing that seems to go when the Season Of Busy descends is my (fairly) strong commitment to daily stretching. As one of the leading generation that has spent most of my professional life hunched over a computer, starting way before we knew about the ergonomic principles that are supposed to help us, I realized I needed a daily stretching routine if I was to be able to do all the other things I love to do that do not involve sitting at a computer. Continue reading

On the 3 D’s of Growing Grit

When I first began work on the 4-H Thriving Model I thought about the ways in which the 4-H Program stands alone in its approach to youth development, and how youth are attracted to the program. One way that 4-H stands out is through its emphasis on project-based learning, and providing opportunities that match a young person’s interest in a particular topic. Ah-ha, I thought, this is a really important and unique aspect of 4-H and I began to search the research literature to identify how this practice of building programs around youths’ interests can contribute to their positive development.

it didn’t take me long to come across the concept of youth Sparks, an idea Continue reading

On Looking at the 4-H Thriving Model through an Equity Lens

Food for Thought Friday

By Guest Blogger Dr. Nia Imani Fields

4-H Specialist, University of Maryland Extension 4-H Youth Development

My name is Nia Imani Fields and I am a 4-H Specialist in Maryland. I am passionate about increasing access to positive youth development opportunities for youth who have historically been overlooked. There is a popular saying “It’s not what you know, but who you know”. This is true both in childhood and through one’s adult life. The ‘who you know’ can be described as social capital—the networks and relationships that allow one to better navigate the world we live in.

4-H provides new opportunities for young people to increase their networks and self-efficacy—the ‘I can do it’ and ‘I have the support I need’ feeling! These experiences can help youth thrive into adulthood. Continue reading

On Growing Grit

As I write this blog post, a somber scene is playing out 3000 miles away in Washington DC as our country says goodbye to its 41st president, George Herbert Walker Bush. Since his passing last Friday, the news has been filled with remembrances of this man who led our country, many of them reminding us of the great dignity, humor, and kindness he brought to the highest leadership post in the country.

One story, told last night on our local news was of a young woman who was part of a grade school class that traveled out to the Portland airport to say farewell to President Bush after a visit to Oregon. Now an adult, she showed the watch the president had taken off his wrist and given to her when she admired it. She also shared the story of a fellow classmate who was taken in awe by the fighter jets Continue reading