Recognition can occur for different reasons

Introduction to the five types of recognition.

Recognition is a part of the 4-H experience and a key aspect of volunteer and youth development.  Many times when we think of recognition we simply think of competition and overlook the other forms of recognition that individuals may seek. Michigan State University Extension says understanding that there are different forms of recognition can help you design opportunities to implement each of these types during the year.

The first type of recognition is progress toward self-set goals. Members, and leaders alike, are encouraged to set goals for their clubs and for themselves. When we set goals we announce, to at least ourselves, this is where I want to go or this is what I want to accomplish. After that big decision we can then talk about how the goal can become a reality and design our plan of action. Writing these action steps down can help us measure our progress along the way and keep us focused on the ultimate goal. It is important to take a look periodically at where you are in your action steps to see how you are doing in working towards your goal.

Many times we forget to stop along our journey to reflect on where we have been and where we are going. We forget to reevaluate if we still want to be headed in the original direction. Sometimes we made need to take a different route or we may choose to go in a new direction. When we do this we can celebrate the steps we have taken and be proud of our club, our friends and ourselves for moving toward the bigger goals we have set.

Recognition for participation is also important to acknowledge. When we see youth and adults trying something new we can highlight their participation. When young people try a new food we can give them a sticker indicating they tried something new. When they stay at camp, away from home, for the first time we can celebrate that they have taken a huge step towards independence; we can also be proud of the parents who trusted the staff enough to let their youth go away overnight without them. Participating is some events, activities and programs takes courage and should be considered milestones and learning experiences in life. Learning experiences can help build life skills that will contribute to becoming successful later in life.

Working as team and being cooperative is valued in today’s world by many and is not always an easy feat. Working with your peers to set and achieve goals is important and deserves recognition. Many times we see cooperation being a key to successful community service projects or large fundraisers. When everyone works together towards the same goal great things can happen, and often do. Recognizing cooperation is important as it may set the tone for how the group works together in the future. Bringing everyone along and leaving no one behind shows character and builds team spirit.

Perhaps the most talked about recognition is that in which we name a winner and a loser. Some individuals thrive with competition while others could prefer to simply walk away from the arena.  When peers compete to be the best, they are participating in this type of recognition. Ribbons, trophies and banners are coveted by those who enjoy and even thrive to be in the competitive environment. It is critical to remember that everyone does not thrive in this environment and other opportunities for recognition are needed.

The good news is that 4-H offers a bit of all of these to its members and leaders. As youth development staff understands that each of these types of recognition has a place in the program and we encourage you to consider how you can implement these recognition types into the work that you do with children and adults. Everyone likes to be appreciated in some way and taking a moment to reflect on how best to do it for that special person in your life, your club members or your committee can make all the difference when you ask them to volunteer again.

Remember recognition does not need to cost a great deal of money or be bright and colorful. It may be subtle, inexpensive and just plain fun. However, recognition should always be appropriate for the circumstances and the individual.

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