The Bureau County United Way provides funding to support the 4-H program of the University of Illinois Extension. United Way believes education is the cornerstone of individual and community success. As a Bureau County United Way member agency, University of Illinois Extension is providing educational programs for youth, ages 5-19, to engage them in learning about themselves and the world around them and provide opportunities to develop mastery and practice generosity.
University of Illinois Extension is grateful to the Bureau County United Way for helping to fund the 4-H program. The investment in preparing our youth and teens for their future and their service as tomorrow’s leaders is a benefit to all.
Four-H is the largest youth program in the world. The 4-H program is research-based and targeted to meet local programming needs. Four-H provides youth with many opportunities to develop critical life skills. One need that has been identified through local needs assessment processes is for youth development programming to provide resources and education to help teens as they prepare to seek part-time jobs and consider the world of work and careers.
On Aug. 1 and 2, the University of Illinois Extension piloted the first 4-H Professional Leadership Skills Certificate Workshop. This is the first certificate of several to be available through the 4-H Youth Leadership Certificate Program. The Professional Leadership Skills Certificate is backed by the University of Illinois Extension and endorses the work-related skills the participants developed during the workshop. At the two-day workshop University of Illinois Extension was proud to award the 13 individuals, ages 15-18, the Professional Leadership Skills Certificate after completing hands-on workforce development information sessions and activities, with both individual and team exercises, throughout the sessions.
The Professional Leadership Skills Certificate workshop included the following sessions: Real Colors Personality Inventory — Participants determined their personality color temperament and incorporated their new self-awareness when making decisions and working in teams; Leadership — Participants explored the importance of leadership and worked to create their own professional pitch to answer the question, “Can you tell me about yourself?”; Professional Development — Participants defined professionalism and applied their definition to the workplace through attire, communication, appropriate use of social media and dining etiquette; and Workforce Preparation — Participants begin prepping for the workforce by creating a resume and cover letter and learning about the STAR Method for answering interviewing questions.
Breanne Gilligan, Extension youth development educator, stated, “The workshop was a success. The participants had fun while learning invaluable workforce preparation skills. The 13 teen participants answered unanimously they would recommend this program to their friends and would attend another workshop.” One participant, when asked if the information covered in the workshop relevant to their life responded, “Yes, it gave me a broader understanding of what I need to do to prepare myself for the future.” The Professional Leadership Skills Certificate Workshop not only provided the participants with needed workforce development tools, it also provided these young adults an opportunity to grow as a young professional and meet and work with other teens interested in building their leadership skills. Additional 4-H workshops for the series are under development focusing on career exploration, entrepreneurship and developing skills such as public speaking, team leadership and more. Understanding career options and how to move forward can be confusing when you do not have experience to base the decisions upon. This dedicated workforce training allows time to think about and prepare for the next steps for jobs and career planning as they unfold.
Four-H is the largest youth program in the world, and its evidence–based success has been proven for more than 100 years. Four-H provides youth with critical life skills. Through 4-H clubs, youth gain a sense of belonging within their groups, independence through decision-making and responsibility, a spirit of generosity toward others; and a variety of opportunities to master skills and knowledge. Research shows that young people who participate in 4-H clubs do better in school, are more likely to see themselves going to college, are less likely to engage in risky behaviors, and they contribute more to their communities. Four-H programs also focus on learning employment skills, experiencing healthy relationships, becoming physically fit, thinking green and engaging in science.
The local 4-H program offers many different opportunities for youth and family involvement. Bureau County has 4-H community clubs located across the county, programs at after-school sites, in-school programs, special events and workshops, and new Special Interest Clubs (SPIN) where youth meet to learn about a specific project or topic. New SPIN clubs include shooting sports clubs and after-school science clubs. For more information about 4-H, call the Bureau County Extension Office, 850 Thompson St., Princeton, at 815-875-2878.
The Mission of University of Illinois Extension is to provide practical education you can trust to help people, businesses and communities solve problems, develop skills and build a better future. University of Illinois Extension provides equal opportunities in programs and employment. Visit our website at http://web.extension.illinois.edu/blmp/.
Call the Bureau County United Way at 815-872-0821 for information on how you can lend a helping hand to those in need in Bureau County.