Social change through Michigan 4-H Guiding Principles — Part 3: Commitment

Learn how the principles of 4-H relate to commitment.

Members of the 2017 Michigan 4-H State Youth Leadership Council.
Members of the 2017 Michigan 4-H State Youth Leadership Council.

In the first article of this series, “Introduction to the Social Change Model for Leadership Development,” we introduced the seven C’s that help frame the Social Change Model of Leadership Development from three different levels: individual values, group values and societal or community values. This next set of articles will further explain each of the seven C’s, how it fits with the Michigan 4-H Guiding Principles and share some Michigan 4-H examples of programming, activities or probing questions you could exercise to engage youth in the Social Change Model of Leadership Development.

To learn more about the Social Change Model of Leadership Development and the seven C’s, check out “A Social Change Model of Leadership Development” by the Higher Education Research Institute.

The first three C’s of the model—consciousness of self, congruence and commitment—are specifically related to individual values. Let’s discuss commitment as it relates to the Michigan 4-H Guiding Principles.

You utilize your consciousness of self and congruency in order to achieve commitment. Commitment is the energy and motivation it takes for someone to serve a collective effort. Commitment instills passion and intensity during the duration of tasks. It gives you value and a sense to accomplish goals. Feeling a sense of obligation or dedication to a cause, effort or action is the third C of the Social Change Model for Leadership Development: commitment.

Commitment is directly tied to the fourth Michigan 4-H Guiding Principle: youth are considered participants rather than recipients in the learning process. Michigan 4-H explains this principle as the creation of engaged opportunities for youth to actively participate in their own learning taking place in many different contexts and consider the wide variety of learning styles.

Some general elements of effectively practicing this guiding principle and helping youth develop the third C of the Social Change Model for Leadership are:

  • Encourage learning in formal and informal spaces during planned and unplanned opportunities.
  • Opportunities for shared decision-making, planning and implementation are created for youth and adults.
  • Participants work together to overcome barriers.

There are many ways Michigan 4-H helps youth develop and practice commitment through participation in learning. Inherently including youth in the actions and decisions that impact them (or their engagement) helps create a greater sense of personal buy-in from those whose voices were considered.

One example of Michigan 4-H helping local programs develop commitment is through advisory group resources. For some Michigan 4-H staff, helping advisory groups, councils and committees develop consciousness of self, congruence and commitment is a part of their job responsibilities.

A sample activity these staff members may facilitate to build these first three C’s is a collective visioning session. When using the Michigan 4-H Guiding Principles we’ve been discussing in this collection of articles, leadership staff will often ask individuals to brainstorm strengths, opportunities and ideas relevant to each of the seven principles. Through active dialogue, participants identify themes and then their priority actions for the next period of time.

Because of the participatory nature of this activity, individual participants are more likely to be committed to the common vision and action plan created than if the plan had just been dictated to them.

Another great example of the overlap between this Michigan 4-H Guiding Principle and the Social Change Model for Leadership is the Michigan 4-H State Youth Leadership Council. The State Youth Leadership Council is a statewide leadership opportunity for 4-H youth. Members serve as premier youth leaders and representatives of the Michigan 4-H program, promoting 4-H through state and local activities, and providing youth voice and perspective on the development of 4-H programs and curricula.

This group of 4-Hers are active in building and leading State Youth Leadership Council the way they see fit. They are the full participants and directors of where State Youth Leadership Council goes and are committed to helping their mission and vision come to fruition each year.

To learn about the positive impact of Michigan 4-H youth leadership, citizenship and service and global and cultural education programs, read our 2016 Impact Report: “Developing Civically Engaged Leaders.” Additional impact reports, highlighting even more ways Michigan State University Extension and Michigan 4-H have positively impacted individuals and communities in 2016, can be downloaded from the MSU Extension website.

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