Posted in Livestock, Programming, Youth

Sportsmanship & Youth Development

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My youngest daughter, Meredith has been learning responsibility with her first bucket calf.

Webster’s Third International Dictionary defines sportsmanship as “conduct becoming an individual involving fair and honest competition, courteous relations and graceful acceptance of results”.  Sportsmanship starts with parents teaching their youth how to accept a win or a loss, although in the 4-H youth development program, even if the youth receives a red ribbon, nothing is lost as long as some basic knowledge and skills were gained. Too often in our society we focus on the tangible results of a ribbon or trophy and don’t think about the process that youth went through to achieve the end results and what was learned from that process.

I often use the example that as a youth, I’ll never forget receiving a red ribbon for a market heifer; I was disappointed, but will never forget my dad asking me, what the judge said in the comments.  After we talked it over, I realized his reasoning and was able to understand the type of animal I should select the following year. That was a lesson I’ll never forget.  My parents instilled the value of hard work into my sister and I and any animal we showed we bought with our own money to build a small cow/calf herd or they came from our own herd. We rarely had the award-winning animal and were extremely excited to even receive a purple ribbon. The learning that occurred, memories and fun we had were just as valuable then if we would have received a trophy or plaque.

For these reasons, it is really rewarding to work with youth who are happy with any ribbon placing- white, red, blue or purple. It really is just one person’s opinion on one particular day!

The 4-H Program focuses on providing positive youth development and developing young people as future leaders. A ribbon or plaque placing does not achieve this; rather it is the process, skills and effort that went into the project.  It is also important to mention that the entire 4-H program extends beyond the county fair and is done through educational workshops, career portfolios, leadership experiences and much more and is a year-round program.

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My oldest daughter, McKenzie added pigs to her 4-H project this year and has been having to learn lots more responsibility and patience.

Positive Youth Development

National 4-H reminds us that there are four critical components of a successful learning experience which include a sense of belonging, independence, mastery and generosity. During county fair and all 4-H programming, it is important that youth experience these.

Belonging

Youth need to know they are cared about by others and feel a sense of connection to others in the group. As the facilitator, it is important to provide youth the opportunity to feel physically and emotionally safe while actively participating in a group. Create a safe and inclusive environment and foster a positive relationship with youth learners. Use discussion questions that encourage youth to learn from each other, synthesize and use ideas collaboratively.

Independence

Youth need to know that they are able to influence people and events through decision-making and action. They learn to better understand themselves and become independent thinkers. Throughout each curriculum, youth are given opportunities to develop and reflect upon thoughts and responses to the challenges, explorations, and investigations. Youth begin to understand that they are able to act as change agents with confidence and competence as a result of their learning.

Mastery

In order to develop self-confidence youth need to feel and believe they are capable and they must experience success at solving problems and meeting challenges. Youth need a breadth and depth of topics that allow them to pursue their own interests. Introduce youth to expert knowledge and guide them toward their own sense of mastery and accomplishment.

Generosity

Youth need to feel their lives have meaning and purpose. Throughout each curriculum, youth are encouraged to broaden their perspectives, find relevance in the topic area and bring ideas back to their community.

Adapted from 4-H Essential Elements of 4-H Youth Development, Dr. Cathann Kress, 2004.

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Posted in Youth

4-H Builds Friendships

As we approach this county fair season, it is important to remember how important it is to focus on the important on the life skills being taught. As adults we need to be role models to youth and help them have a positive experience. It’s not the ribbon placing or the trophy that matters but rather the experience one has from participation in activities such as county fair.

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Photo by Di Lewis on Pexels.com

When I ask 4-H members the question, “What do you like most about 4-H?” they often respond with “the friendships!” 4-H’ers have the unique opportunity to meet and interact with youth from all across the county, the state and even the country. 4-H brings together youth with similar interests and you never forget the people you meet through the program.

Friends are vital to school-age youth’s healthy development. Friendships provide youth with more than just fun playmates. Friendships help them develop emotionally and morally. In interacting with friends, youth learn many social skills, such as how to communicate, cooperate, and solve problems. They practice controlling their emotions and responding to the emotions of others. They develop the ability to think through and negotiate different situations that arise in their relationships. Having friends even affects school performance. Youth tend to have better attitudes about school and learning when they have friends there.

Friendships help youth develop emotionally and morally, and help them to learn critical life skills such as social skills, communication, cooperation, problem solving, and many more.  Part of being a good friend is learning how to deal with conflict. There are a number of strategies to teach youth to resolve problems they have with other youth.

Strategies for Conflict Resolution

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Photo by KULDEEPSINH VAGHELA on Pexels.com
  • When angry, separate yourself from the situation and take time to cool off.
  • Attack the problem, not the person. Start with a compliment.
  • Communicate your feelings assertively, NOT aggressively. Express them without blaming.
  • Focus on the issue, NOT your position about the issue.
  • Accept and respect that individual opinions may differ. Don’t try to force compliance; work to develop common agreement.
  • Do not view the situation as a competition in which one person has to win and one has to lose. Work toward a solution that will enable both parties to have some of their needs met.
  • Focus on areas of common interest and agreement, instead of areas of disagreement and opposition.
  • NEVER jump to conclusions or make assumptions about what another person is feeling or thinking.
  • Listen without interrupting. Ask for feedback, if needed, to assure a clear understanding of the issue.
  • Remember, when only one person’s needs are satisfied in a conflict, it is NOT resolved and will continue.
  • Forget the past and stay in the present.
  • Build “power with” NOT “power over” others.
  • Thank the person for listening.

Find out more about this topic by visiting the Nebraska Extension child and youth development web site at http://child.unl.edu/child-care-professionals and click on Expanded Learning Opportunities. To request additional information or programs contact Leanne Manning, Extension Educator at leanne.manning@unl.edu or 402-821-2151.

Posted in Irrigation, Programming, Youth

Irrigation Lessons for Youth

With my agricultural education degree, I enjoy creating lessons and activities for youth and often able to utilize that background by creating lessons for others. With Nebraska ExtensionScreen Shot 2019-06-07 at 2.36.33 PM.png as a leader in irrigation management and development of the Nebraska Agricultural Water Management Network, it is only fitting for Nebraska Extension to provide youth education related to irrigation.

With that in mind, a series of lessons have been created to accompany the recently developed Agricultural Water Management Guide. This online magazine-type resource introduces readers to irrigation and its use and benefits to Nebraska crop production. This guide serves as a resource for anyone wanting to learn more about irrigation management. It has embedded videos and links for further information, making it interactive. Teachers or informal educators can utilize the guide as an informative reference for themselves or encourage youth to read it themselves.

To compliment the Agricultural Water Management Guide, six lesson plans with activities have been created. Each lesson has learning objectives, careers associated with the topic, educational standards and hands-on activities related to irrigation. A basic ag water management lesson helps youth understand basics principles of soil and water management. Other lesson plan topics include: irrigation management planning & tools used, center pivot irrigation, furrow irrigation, subsurface drip irrigation, and variable rate irrigation. Extension has also developed YouTube videos to compliment these lessons in the classroom.

These materials can all be found on Nebraska Extension’s CropWatch website at cropwatch.unl.edu/youth and click on the irrigation lessons tab.

 

Posted in Crops, Programming, Youth

Youth Crop Scouting Competition

Connecting Youth with Crops

Looking for a fun club project? Want to unite your club members? Running out of ideas for club meetings?  If you answered, “yes” to any of these questions, help is on the way!  Nebraska Extension is pleased to present the 6th annual Crop Scouting Competition for Nebraska youth. Youth interested in crops have the opportunity to learn about crop growth & development and basic crop scouting principles.Crop Scout Design (1)

Don’t know a lot about crops?  Ask a local agronomist to assist by providing a short lesson on crop production. You can have the agronomist meet with youth a little during each meeting or outside of the meeting. This is one way to engage those youth interested in crops.

This contest will be held at the ARDC near Mead, Nebraska on July 23, 2019. The event will include both indoor and outdoor events. Teams of junior high and high school students (those completing 5-12th grades) from across Nebraska are invited to participate. This event is limited to the first ten teams who sign-up!

Clubs or other organizations may enter a team composed of three to five participants. An adult team leader must accompany each team of students. Team leaders could be FFA advisors, crop consultants, extension staff, coop employees, etc.

Top-scoring teams win prizes: $500 for first, $250 for second, $100 for third place. Top two teams will be eligible for regional competition in August at Iowa this year.

Teams will be expected to know the basics of scouting corn and soybean fields. This includes crop staging; looking for patterns of crop injury; disease, insect and weed seedling identification; etc. Other topics many include but are not limited to, pesticide safety, nutrient disorders, and herbicide injury.

More information about the crop scouting competition and instructions on how to register a team are available online at cropwatch.unl.edu/youth. Register at: https://go.unl.edu/cropscoutingreg

Teams must be registered by July 18. This program is sponsored by Nebraska Independent Crop Consultant Association, DuPont Pioneer, Farm Credit Services of America and Nebraska Extension.

Posted in Livestock, Youth

Celebrate Beef Month

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My daughter’s bucket calf from two years ago had a calf and she was ecstatic; it has been a great learning experience for her, in addition to teaching responsibility.

As we enter into the spring and summer months, nothing smells better than a delicious, juicy hamburger or steak on the grill and being able to barbecue outside with friends and family. It’s no surprise then that May is National Beef Month!  The beef industry is especially important to Nebraska’s economy. In fact, according to the USDA National Ag Statistics Service, Nebraska ranks top in the nation with beef and beef product exports and second in the nation for having approximately 6.8 million head of all cattle and calves in the state (February 2019). So, why is Nebraska, the beef state?  It has a unique mix of natural resources and according to the Nebraska Beef Council, cattle turn grass from 24 million acres of rangeland and pasture, more than one half of Nebraska’s land mass, into protein and many other products for humans. Land that is grazed allows more people to be fed than otherwise possible and more than one billion bushels of corn are produced in Nebraska, of which 40% is fed to livestock in the state.

Now that I have explained how and why the beef industry is important to Nebraska, let’s explore the health benefits of beef. Beef is a good source of zinc, iron and protein and there are 29 cuts of beef that meet the government labeling guidelines for being lean. In fact, a 3 ounce cooked serving of lean beef (which is about the size of a deck of cards) provides 10 essential nutrients and about half of the daily value of protein in about 170 calories. According to recent research from Purdue University, the cuts of beef considered lean can be included as a part of a heart-healthy diet to support cardiovascular health and has consistently demonstrated that the nutrients in beef promote health through life.UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_823e.jpg

With May as beef month, my colleague and I recently provided beef program to students at Shickley Public Schools. I taught lessons to the elementary students on the importance of agriculture, with an emphasis on beef production. With the disconnect most consumers have with agriculture, it is important to teach people, especially youth the facts about agriculture. Some of the classes were taught the difference between beef and dairy cattle, as there are many people who do not understand the differences between the two. Extension assistants Rachel Adam and Nathan Haman taught middle and high school youth about beef nutrition by bringing in the Mobile Beef Lab.

If you would like more information on beef production, you can view our Nebraska Extension website beef.unl.edu. Our Extension experts have a variety of articles from beef nutrition to reproduction to lease information. If you would like recipes or tips for preparing beef, you can also check out Nebraska Extension’s food.unl.edu website. There are some great tips on saving money when purchasing beef and links to the Nebraska Beef Council’s website which has great recipes as well.

Enjoy some beef today!