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Thursday May 12

Building Capacity of 4-H Volunteers to Support Youth Mental Health

2:30pm ET (1:30 CT; 12:30pm MT; 11:30am PT)


1) Bend, Don’t Break: Building Resilience in Rural Youth

Presenters: Aly Kloeckner and Becca Turnquist, University of Minnesota Extension Center for 4-H Youth Development

Rural youth and families are disproportionately affected by a range of stressors and face challenges accessing mental health providers. This can be due to provider shortages or perceived stigma. While we cannot provide direct mental health services through 4-H programs, we can provide volunteers with resources to build resilience and coping skills into daily lives of youth. Equipping volunteers with these resources before youth hit a critical point of intervention is crucial. In this session we will share how we are empowering volunteers to equip youth to bend, don’t break.

2) Training Volunteers to Support Youth Mental Health

Presenters: Kea Norrell-Aitch, 4-H Educator, Michigan State University Extension and Monica Lobenstein, Learning Resources Specialist, University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension

Participants will receive an overview of the Supporting Youth Mental Health Training for Volunteers. This Volunteer Training was created to assist in preparing volunteers to better understand and support youth who may be experiencing a mental health challenge, crisis, or just need a listening ear. Participants will experience the training development process, a sampling of training activities, and the different delivery models. The training content was developed by educators with Michigan and Wisconsin Extension, which includes a hybrid and virtual option. Presenters will share the strengths and challenges of each training model and allow time for questions.

3) Translating the Science into Practice: The Turnaround for Children Toolbox

Presenters: Katie Brackenridge, Turnaround for Children

Building on the science of learning and development as presented by Pamela Cantor, M.D. in her conference keynote, this interactive workshop will lead participants in a curated exploration of the Turnaround for Children Toolbox so that they can move from knowledge of whole-child design into implementation and action in their own communities. The Toolbox is based on Turnaround’s Whole-Child Design Blueprint and offers an array of free-to-use resources – tools, videos, articles – that staff can use to create the conditions for each and every young person to learn and thrive. This session will focus on tools that support young people’s (and staff’s) wellness and mental health.

4) Empower Volunteers to Apply Program Quality Principles to Build Youth Resiliency

Presenters: Lena Hosking, Oregon State University and Mike Knutz, University of Idaho

COVID-19 has changed the way we live and interact with each other. Youth have been immersed in a pool of stress: parent’s loss of income and access to childcare, constant school changes, long periods of social isolation from family and friends, and very few outlets to relieve their disappointment. Children are returning to out-of-school time activities and trauma-informed volunteers can help youth navigate their mental health challenges brought on by the pandemic. In this session, participants will be provided with the tools to train their volunteers on how to apply eight quality program principles and the protective factors they provide.

5) Navigating Stakeholder Friction to Support LGBTQIA+ Youth Mental Health

Presenters: Alison White, Washington State University; Jeremy Elliot-Engel, Arizona State University; Dani Castillo-Dávalos; Oregon State University; Anna EldenBrady, Michigan State University; Maru Gonzalez, North Carolina State University; Nancy Moores, University of Florida; Joseph Rand, University of Minnesota; Liliana Vega, University of California; David Widdison, Utah State University

LGBTQIA+ youth experience negative mental health outcomes at higher rates than their cisgender, heterosexual peers. There are ample best practices 4-H can employ to support better outcomes, however, implementing these practices can lead to push back from stakeholders, like volunteers. Without preparation for this response, the very best of intentions to improve mental health trajectories are mute. This session will provide perspective and low-stress practice with communication strategies that allow 4-H youth development professionals to navigate pushback and improve the capacity of their volunteer team to support positive mental health outcomes for LGBTQIA+ youth.