In most communities, people say that they care about their youth and believe that there should be youth programs. Another view is that young people themselves can shape the communities in which they live. Most youth are in some way affected by the community in which they live and they have much they can contribute to that community’s growth and prosperity.
In Fayette County, youth are involved in programs such as Junior Achievement and 4-H Youth Development to stimulate lifelong learning of values and skills. Recently, the youth aged 14 to 30 were engaged in deliberating the future role of OSU Extension in communities like Fayette County. This effort focused on enhancing skills, building confidence, and fostering a sense of ownership to prepare them for what lies ahead. Among the discussion was the following:
- What are three words that would describe your community?
- What are the strengths of your current community?
- What are the strengths of the community you want to live in in the future?
- What are the resources needed to get the ideal community?
Participants indicated a desire for a close-knit group full of caring and giving residents ready to help others. They also thought the community (technologically, socially or within the government) needs to continue to move forward.
These fruitful discussions presented a significant opportunity for advancing Extension education and programming, and contributed significantly to the development of Extension programs and policies as it looks into the future. Also, a continuous engagement of the youth in Extension programs provides an opportunity for long-term involvement and ownership of community and Extension programs.
Brennan, M. A., Barnett, Rosemary V., Baugh, Eboni (2007). Youth Involvement in Community Development: Implications and Possibilities for Extension. Journal of Extension, Vol 45 (4).
(Submitted by Godwin Apaliyah, Extension Educator, Fayette County & Miami Valley EERA)