4-H workshops explore young people’s leadership journey

Published 8:00 pm Tuesday, March 14, 2023

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Minnesota 4-H held the Southeast BLU and TEEL leadership workshops on Feb. 25 and 26 at Camp Victory in Zumbro Falls, and three youth attended from Freeborn County, two as participants and one as a leader. The youth had the opportunity to connect with youth and leaders from 10 other counties. They also had the choice of participating in Camp Victory’s High Ropes Course or completing STEM and arts activities, and all youth learned about the Crayon Initiative and other ways they can make a positive impact on the environment.

Four regional BLU and TEEL leadership events were held across the state. BLU was facilitated by youth leaders from the Minnesota 4-H State Ambassador program and TEEL was led by older 4-H youth leaders and 4-H alumni. The events were also supported by a team of adult chaperones.

This year’s theme focused on “Seasons of Growth.” Youth learned about leadership while connecting to their own personal story and experiences through hands-on activities. They engaged in small group discussions, educational workshops and large group activities to meet other young people from throughout the region. Youth also had the chance to learn about the Crayon Initiative, which is an organization that takes used crayons, melts them down and creates new crayons for kids in the hospital. This organization helps bring joy to children who are ill and keeps millions of crayons out of landfills.

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BLU focuses on youth who are in middle school to help them develop their leadership skills, whereas TEEL targets high school age youth to help them take their leadership skills to the next level and help them look deeper into their journeys as leaders.

Using a youth-teaching-youth model, the 4-H BLU leadership workshops are developed and led by 4-H State Ambassadors and Minnesota 4-H youth who have been selected to serve as spokespeople for 4-H. Their purpose is to educate youth and adults about the importance of youth development, leadership, citizenship, service, teamwork and other invaluable life skills. To challenge the older youth that attend, TEEL is designed and facilitated by a team of older youth and young adult leaders to build on the leadership skills older youth have developed at BLU and through their lived experience both within and outside of 4-H. 4-H staff from the area also plan components of BLU and TEEL to bring a regional perspective to the statewide focus.

Rayea Roberts, a 4-Her from the Hartland 4-H Club as well as a current Minnesota state ambassador, shared this about her experience at BLU: “BLU was awesome! At BLU, the state ambassadors led interactive activities, and we went outside to the high ropes course and had a 4-H dance. This years’ theme was ‘Seasons of Growth,’ so we had activities that incorporated each season while developing and strengthening leadership skills. This was my favorite BLU that I attended because I made many memories and connections with the youth over the weekend. I can’t wait to see 4-Hers at YELLO in June.”