The Milwaukee County Cooperative Extension Youth Development program area offers learning opportunities for youth to gain skills, knowledge and memories. Through a hands-on model, youth explore life skills while participating in practical learning experiences. Youth development activities include civic engagement, environmental studies, entrepreneurship, arts, multicultural awareness, pre-college and technology. Our goal is to teach, train and share research-based curriculum with teachers, practicioners, lay people, etc. and form community partnership with schools, youth-serving agencies, churches, and community groups in order to assist and support young people’s development. The focus is to build strong character and future leaders throughout the Greater Milwaukee Community.
Youth Development programs offered in Milwaukee County include:
- 4-H Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Programs
- African Diaspora
- Developing Cultural Competency
- Health Rocks
- Nature in the Parks
- Pre-College Institute
- Professional Development Opportunities
- Program Assessment and Action Planning
- Rite of Passage
- Volunteer Opportunities
- Youth and Adult Leadership Training
- 4-H Community Clubs
What is Youth Development?
One can define ‘youth development’ as:
“‘The ongoing growth process in which all young people (children, teen, adolescent) are engaged in an intentional process to meet their personal and social needs of feeling safe, cared for, supported, valued, and useful in order to be spiritually grounded and competencies that will allow them to function and contribute in their maturation process.”
This definition accurately describes Youth Development as a process that engages young people in their own development toward becoming adults. As this definition implies, the journey should involve the entire community as supporters in young people’s development, led by elders or wise men and women. The Administration for Children and Families states that when young people are nurtured by caring adults, are given opportunities to develop skills and are actively engaged in community activities, they become valuable contributors to the quality of community life.
The role of Youth Development educators in Milwaukee County is to provide communities with research-based learning opportunities for positive youth development to occur as it pertains to efficacy, resilence and education. Our objective is to foster life skills, using multi-cultural methods for transformational learning and awareness to occur. Our goals are to integrate youth, families, and community into a practical learning model for natural learning experiences to occur and to integrate a holistic community-wide approach where youth are socially connected with programs, people, institutions and systems that provide opportunities they need to empower themselves.
“Young people are the unnecessary victims of a necessary process: learning to be adults. Our challenge as adults is to make that process less painful and more productive.”