Allamakee County 4-H youth among those participating in Youth Voice in Action Summit

Allamakee County 4-H youth participate in Youth Voice in Action Summit ... A total of 55 youth, from nine area schools, from seven northeast Iowa counties attended the Youth Voice in Action! 4-H Youth Summit held at Upper Iowa University in Fayette. Participants learned about using their voice for leadership and created and action plan to implement within their community, in addition to listening to a variety of workshop topics. Submitted photo.

Youth attended a day-long 4-H summit at Upper Iowa University in Fayette led by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach county and state youth outreach staff September 28. During the event, 55 youth from nine area schools learned about using their voice for leadership, making an action plan for change in their community and heard from ISU Extension and Outreach specialists on a variety of workshop topics. Schools attended from the following counties: Allamakee, Bremer, Buchanan, Chickasaw, Fayette, Howard and Winneshiek.

Learning to work with others based on leadership style was one part of the overall process for developing a community action plan. To determine their leadership style, youth took a short survey to determine if they were more like a buffalo, eagle, mouse or beaver. This humorous activity grouped like youth together based on their leadership style. They reviewed their strengths and shared pointers others should know about working with their leadership style. Youth reported they feel confident in being able to treat others fairly and equally when they are in charge of a group.

As a school team, youth used a “5 Why’s” activity to define an issue in their school or community. Some topics identified included how to better welcome new students to their school, increase classroom involvement, and increasing youth service projects and community involvement. Led by a caring adult from their school, youth began writing the first steps towards solving the issue.

To better equip youth with the tools needed to address community issues, county staff led workshops related to food science, financial literacy, communication and art, leadership, and mindfulness. One workshop with Peggy Schilling, K-12 Outreach Coordinator for Clayton County, walked youth through a practical communication activity. Students quickly discovered the importance of clear and precise messaging when describing a new topic. Youth reported an increased awareness of the importance of being specific with a variety of communication such as verbal and posters.

Another workshop led by Becky Rea, K-12 Outreach Coordinator for Allamakee County, walked youth through a leadership activity to stress the importance of teamwork. One student commented, “This activity helped me practice leading others through hard situations.”

After leaving the event, youth will use their voice and leadership to implement their community action plan by the end of the current school year. A county ISU Extension and Outreach staff will follow up with their schools on their action plan progress and other engaging leadership opportunities.

This event was made possible with funding from Iowa 4-H Foundation, local county extension and outreach offices, and facilities support from Upper Iowa University. The annual Youth Voice in Action! Summit has helped grow young leaders in local communities, connected ISU Extension and Outreach to schools for further learning, and opened the door for youth to discover how powerful their voices in action can really be.

For more information on the Iowa 4-H Youth Development program, contact the local county ISU Extension and Outreach office or visit the Iowa 4-H website at ISU Extension and Outreach is willing to bring youth opportunities for all ages to any classroom and community.