Guiding Principles for Positive Youth Development

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Dr. Richard Clark

As our new 4-H year is ready to begin, I found myself reflecting on what makes 4-H work so well. I found a fact sheet from Michigan State University that captured the concept. I hope it reminds all of us of what we should be doing in our 4-H program.

Youth develop positive relationships with adults and peers.
Youth develop sustained relationships with peers and adults that nurture their positive development.

Youth are physically and emotionally safe.
Youth will learn more and participate more fully when they feel physically and emotionally safe. A structured yet flexible environment encourages honesty, trust and respect among all youth and adults.

Youth are actively engaged in their own development.
Through a process of identity discovery and awareness, youth increase their personal competence and sense of well-being.

Youth are considered participants rather than recipients in the learning process.
Youth are encouraged to actively participate in their own learning. Op-portunities for youth to learn and develop take place in many different contexts and take into account a variety of learning styles.

Youth develop skills that help them succeed.
Youth experience and learn from hands-on educational opportunities that help them de-velop the skills they need to be successful adults.

Youth recognize, understand and appreciate multiculturalism.
Youth will respect differences among groups and individuals of diverse backgrounds. Youth will develop skills and competencies that help them foster social justice in their communities and their world.

Youth grow and contribute as active citizens through service and leadership.
Youth feel included and involved in their communities. They have significant roles to play and important contributions to make as stewards of the future. Youth develop personal competencies that foster leadership, caring and citizenship.”