On Establishing Positive Social Norms

Practitioner Tip Tuesday

On Establishing Positive Social Norms

Whenever I work with a group of 4-H youth I am reminded again what a wonderful job 4-H does at helping youth learn positive, respectful, and team-oriented behaviors. On the occasion that I work with youth who have not been in 4-H, I typically have to start with establishing clear expectations for the time we will spend together. In these cases I engage the youth in establishing a “community covenant,” which is the groups’ promise to each other about the things we decide are important for helping the group be successful. For Continue reading

Practitioner Tip Tuesday: The Puzzle of Developmental Relationships

Last month I traveled to Billings, Montana where the National Extension Conference on Volunteerism was taking place. I was invited to facilitate a pre-conference workshop on the 4-H Thriving Model with 4-H Volunteer Specialists from around the country. After a whirlwind morning where I left home at 3:30am to catch a first-of-the-morning flight to Salt Lake City, and then on to Billings, I arrived at lunch time and was ready to go by 1pm. I was excited to get to spend the afternoon with the group of people who will lead the way in preparing 4-H volunteers to help youth thrive.

Since many of the people who would be there had never heard of the 4-H Thriving Model, I knew I wanted to spend a good portion of the time we had together making sure everyone understood the model and how it describes how 4-H works its magic with youth. Doing so would take a good portion of the afternoon, but it also meant that everyone would be on the same page and ready to move forward together.

While I always enjoy sharing the 4-H Thriving Model with others, I was most looking forward to the second half of the session, because, let’s face it, I had a captive audience of creative and experienced professionals who could develop wonderful learning activities to teach the 4-H Thriving Model to 4-H volunteers! So later in the day the group split into smaller teams and tackled how they would teach some of the 4-H Thriving Model concepts to volunteers. I walked away with a whole stack of creative, quick, and fun ideas for teaching volunteers! And, with the gracious A-OKAY from the volunteer specialists, I get to share them here on Practitioner Tip Tuesdays!

So, let’s start with this idea on how to introduce Developmental Relationships:

Don’t Be Puzzled by Developmental Relationships

This activity is useful for teaching in groups of 10 or more, but can be adapted for smaller groups.


  • Create a large jigsaw puzzle of card stock or other heavy paper that has five pieces.
  • Write one of the five components that make up Developmental Relationships on each piece: Expressing Care, Challenging Growth, Providing Support, Sharing Power, and Expanding Possibilities


  • Break into five groups
  • Give each group one of the puzzle pieces and ask them to share a personal experience of the concept. For example “when was a time that you felt supported by an adult when you were young” or “did you ever have an adult in your life who challenged you to grow?”
  • After the groups have had time for discussion give each group a copy of the Fostering Developmental Relationships Handout and ask the group to read the handout, focusing on the component their group discussed.
  • Ask groups to discuss how they could foster their component when working with youth.
  • Put the jigsaw together by asking each group in turn to share one of their personal experiences and their ideas for how they can use the idea when working with 4-H youth.
  • Finish by pointing out that all five components are important to make the “whole” of a developmental relationship with youth.

Thanks to the following 4-H professionals for this wonderful activity:

Chris Mullens, Kansas; Shane Potter, Kansas; Pat McGlaughlin, Illinois; and Cathy Johnston, Nebraska

Thriving On,

Mary Arnold

On Hands to Larger Service

Practitioner Tip Tuesday

By Guest Blogger Mike Knutz, 4-H Educator Yamhill County, Oregon

Growing up with three brothers on a small farm, my parents would often echo the phrase, “Many hands make the work light.” Now as a youth development educator, I continue to live this mantra as I work with teens in our 4-H Camp Leadership Program. This program prepares youth to serve as camp counselors through training in positive youth development, leadership, teamwork, and communication. I have been amazed at how the annual camp evaluations can motivate our counselors to step up their game. Continue reading

On Introducing the 4-H Thriving Model in 15 minutes

Y’all need these in your teaching kit!

Practitioner Tip Tuesday

By Guest Blogger Kristen Moore, 4-H Companion Animal Programs, Portland Metro Region

Brightly colored sticky notes. They are my go-to answer for most things in my life: grocery lists, house chores, gentle reminders to my husband. Sticky notes create a physical connection to the important things, be it large or small. And they were my go-to answer when I introduced the 4-H Thriving Model to a room full of teachers and parents.

Portland 4-H is focusing on delivering a comprehensive school based 4-H program that engages students in every grade level with hands-on learning. For most of the teachers at Continue reading

On the Power of an Invitation

4-H Member Claire and her 4-H leader leading a session called “I don’t mean to be rude, but you look like a dude” at the Idaho State Contest.

Practitioner Tip Tuesday

By Guest Blogger Claire Sponseller, 4-H Educator

Umatilla County, Oregon

I have thoroughly been enjoying Mary’s blogs as they are driving me to think more on what we as professionals can do to see 4-H youth thrive. So on that note, I’ll throw caution to the wind and hope to aid more thought on a thriving Oregon 4-H.

I, too, was a product of 4-H in Ada County, Idaho and had a pretty special relationship with my 4-H leaders and fellow club members. I started in 4-H because I was asked, which seems how most things still happen in 4-H. I dabbled in a little bit of everything, from livestock projects to youth leadership, but I keep landing back on: “What made my 4-H career a professional career?” It was those youth-adult partnerships and the comradery with my peers. Those same peers and leaders were at my wedding 20 some years later. They became my extended family, supporting me through college and guiding me to Extension and where I am now. Continue reading