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From Jennifer: Together, we can ensure Minnesota youth thrive.

Photo of Dr. Jennifer Skuza wearing a purple shirt standing outside in front of a bushy green background
Dear 4-H youth, families and volunteers,

It is my honor to accept the role of Minnesota 4-H State Director, which I have been filling on an interim capacity since August. It has been since 1993 that I have served young people through Extension and seen just how impactful 4-H can be in the growth of our youth.

The 4-H youth development program is a wonderful place for youth to pursue a life of thriving.

What does it mean to thrive?

Thriving is characterized as the ability to pursue happiness and success, while feeling connected to others and our surrounding world. It is what we all want for our children, their friends and in fact every youth in our community.

But many young people are not on a pathway toward thriving.

Research shows that by the beginning of high school, only about a quarter of young people in the US are on that critical path to happiness, success and connection. So many youth are being left behind. What can be done?

I believe 4-H is part of the solution.

When 4-H is at its best, we empower youth with the skills necessary to thrive. We come along side our young people and offer positive youth development experiences that gradually help them learn and lead –building their capacity to thrive. That learning process can begin anywhere, at 4-H summer camp, a club meeting, animal science project day or community service gathering.

As we get to know each young person’s unique gifts, interests and hopes for their future, we can craft learning and leadership experiences that build on their potential. Step by step, they become globally-minded and engaged citizens who are ready and empowered to live happy, successful and connected lives.

In what ways are you helping youth thrive?

Each of us has a role to play in this critical youth development work. When you listen to the ideas of youth, when you empower them to take on leadership roles, when you support them through disappointment and failure, introduce them to new places and people, and celebrate their steady growth, you are making a difference. You are helping our youth thrive.

I am thrilled to continue my work in positive youth development with you in Minnesota 4-H.

Together, we can ensure Minnesota youth thrive.

Jennifer A. Skuza, PhD
Minnesota 4-H state director
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