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From Jennifer: In 4-H, all youth are welcome to learn and grow

Dear youth, families and volunteers,

One of the things I most value about 4-H is that it is open to all young people.

4-H is a public youth development organization. That means we receive funds from state and local government to ensure all young people can access high-quality youth development experiences. Whether from urban, suburban, rural or tribal communities, youth living in Minnesota can find 4-H learning opportunities that encourage and challenge them to grow.

Safety and engagement are our priorities

Research shows that youth grow the most when they feel safe. In 4-H, that means attending to the physical and emotional needs of youth who have been in our programs for many years as well as those who are new to us. If you’re unsure what the youth around you need to feel safe and welcome, just ask them. They know their needs well and can help adults adjust as necessary.

Prioritizing safety does not necessarily mean that every 4-H experience is easy or without struggle. In fact, we design 4-H opportunities to help young people investigate and consider ideas and perspectives that are different from their own. When diversity of opinion arises in 4-H, we can guide youth to discuss conflicting values with openness and respect. This form of engagement is something all our communities can benefit from.

A legacy and future of growing leaders

For over 100 years, 4-H has been committed to the growth of young people. This is why we offer such a wide range of learning and leadership experiences across Minnesota. In 4-H, youth can dig deep on a topic they already care about and explore new ideas in a safe and supportive environment. I encourage you to help the youth in your community to stretch into some new experiences this coming year. The leaders we need for our future are curious, compassionate and committed to civility.

I am so grateful for the many people who work tirelessly to ensure all young people can find their place within our proud, public organization. 4-H truly is for everybody.

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