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4-H teen wins public health achievement award for teaching younger youth

Meet Briana M.

Briana is a 4-H'er from Washington County. She recently received a Public Health Achievement Award for her work encouraging healthy living in fellow youth.

4-H grows healthy and engaged young people.

A Senior at Park High School, Briana is in her second year helping younger youth make safe and healthy choices as a 4-H Youth Teaching Youth teen teacher.

"I used to babysit a lot, but got involved with 4-H because I wanted to learn more about being a teacher. I had no idea how hard it is or how rewarding it feels when kids learn from me."

Teaching elementary schoolers about healthy living

Partnered with a peer co-teacher, Briana visits local elementary schools to share her knowledge about internet safety, food & nutrition and character education. She sees so much value in being a teen teacher that she gives up part of her normal academic time to be with elementary students.

"It's hard to miss class for this work, but I know teaching others is really important. Sometimes I have to make hard choices about teaching or going to class. It's good that I'm one of several teen teachers. We work together to cover for each other when classes get busy."

Inviting fellow teens to become 4-H role models

Briana believes so strongly in her work as a teen teacher that she's started a 4-H club at her high school so that more youth can get involved. Along with her friend Ashley, they've helped connect 30 Park High School students to this important leadership opportunity.

"We learn a lot from 4-H. Being able to speak in front of others is definitely something I've gotten better at. But collaborating with peers is something else we're all learning. And being patient with younger kids, treating them with respect and kindness…there's just so much to learn as a teen teacher."

Caring adults help teens find confidence

4-H staff , like Heather Cory, are important supporters of Briana and other teen teachers in the Youth Teaching Youth program. They help youth build the knowledge and skills required to be engaging and effective teachers, even for the youngest of learners.

"I used to be so afraid when I even thought about talking in front of others. My voice would shake and I'd rush. Nobody could understand me. Heather has helped me build skills through practice. We go through lessons ahead of time and figure out how to communicate in ways the kids will understand. I'm way more confident now. I've learned to trust myself."

Just the beginning of a lifetime of impact

So far, Briana has taught in 15 local classrooms, with more scheduled before the school year ends. She's also expanded her teaching into summer opportunities, encouraging youth to make healthy eating choices when they're not at school.

"Every time I teach, I learn something new about myself. I think a lot more teens should join 4-H. You might discover your passion, just like I did!"

University of Minnesota
Extension Center for Youth Development

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