Helping youth find their spark

Volunteers can help youth find their spark through the 4-H program.

A hand holding a sparkler in the dark.
Photo credit: Pixabay.

Young people join 4-H because they have a spark; a passion for an idea or skill they would like to grow. We can watch sparks grow, create joy, and lead to purpose and direction in life as youth journey through 4-H. Adults volunteering in Michigan 4-H have a significant role as champions for the sparks youth have by assisting in the development of their passions, helping provide positive energy, and building aligned skills for the spark.

One important step to cultivating sparks for youth in their 4-H experiences is to create an environment where they can flourish. Ensuring youth feel welcomed and have a sense of belonging helps them build a positive relationship with 4-H volunteers. By creating a nurturing and inclusive space, youth can thrive and develop their sparks.

Additionally, as a volunteer, you play a key role in helping youth find their sparks. Here are some ideas to help you be a spark champion for youth:

  • Watch for the moments when you see the light bulb go off. By pointing out moments that youth are showcasing joy and positive energy, you are helping them identify a spark.
  • Help affirm a youth’s spark by asking questions, listening, attending activities the youth is involved in, and providing encouragement.
  • Identify opportunities for youth to express their sparks. Assist in finding ways they can showcase their talents, strengths, interests and future potential.
  • Model your own sparks so youth can see your passion and excitement.
  • Help youth navigate obstacles that may pop up with their spark.

The influence of spark champions during adolescence can be incredibly helpful for youth. Helping youth know their sparks can help set aside the pressures of life and let them focus on something that brings them excitement and joy. Michigan State University Extension and Michigan 4-H Youth Development have a variety of resources that 4-H volunteers can utilize to help youth foster their spark, leading to a thriving future that has direction and purpose.

For more information on helpful volunteer training information, check out the MSU Extension Michigan 4-H Volunteer Webinar Series webpage.

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