It is the season for being thankful and anticipating family celebrations and a new year. We at University of Idaho Extension 4-H Youth Development wish you a very happy holiday season and that you can celebrate your individual holiday safely with family and friends.
This has been a trying year with the COVID-19 restrictions, especially with a positive youth development program such as 4-H. Much of the success that 4-H brings to young people comes from the long-term positive relationships that youth develop with caring adults. This becomes difficult as face-to-face meetings have been restricted.
This 4-H Matters newsletter explores the resilience of teens during the pandemic and innovative county-based programs that celebrate the independent thinking of county faculty and staff.
As always, if you have questions or thoughts about 4-H in Idaho, please email us at email@example.com.
Cooking at Home
Throughout Idaho, UI Extension faculty members help young people learn skills in food preparation. Now with a twist, youth are using Instant Pots to cook family meals (PDF).
Dabble in Dissection
Youth in Twin Falls County are digging into anatomy. STEM skills continue to be important for our youth’s future, though public-school systems have reduced hands-on learning because of online teaching and budget reductions that affect all areas of schools. Our innovative dissection program supplements in-school learning. Explore Dabble in Dissection (PDF).
Building Teens’ Resilience to Cope with COVID-19
In May 2020, National 4-H Council commissioned a poll to assess the resilience of teens (13-19 years old) to cope with the current coronavirus pandemic. Over 1,500 teens responded, of which 15% identified as 4-H members. Not surprisingly, teens are very concerned about their current mental health and well-being. The Teen Mental Health (PDF) report presents multiple indicators of teens’ stress but also of how resilient teens feel. 4-H youth development can play a role in improving teen coping skills during stressful times and their overall resilience. After all, UI Extension 4-H Youth Development has been developing capable teens for over 100 years.
The Teen Mental Health report asked teens if they were resilient or non-resilient. Sixty-eight percent of teens self-identified as resilient, selecting the statement “I consider myself to be resilient.” Two key aspects of resilient teens are:
- Less likely to engage in negative health behaviors as coping mechanisms or experience mental health issues (such as anxiety and depression) during the pandemic.
- More likely to speak with their peers about mental health in person or on social media and be able to identify and seek out positive coping mechanisms.
Key findings (PDF) from the report include:
- Most teens (81%) say mental health is a “significant issue for young people in the U.S.” and 64% believe “the experience of COVID-19 will have a lasting impact on their generation's mental health.”
- Teens who are less resilient seem to struggle, reporting more frequent feelings of anxiety and depression, as well as a stronger struggle with ambiguity and pressure from others to hide their feelings.
- Resilient teens report higher levels of confidence solving their own mental health struggles, as well as helping others with theirs struggles. They also feel more equipped to tap into support networks than their non-resilient counterparts.
- All teens are craving more communication with 65% of teens saying their family rarely talks about mental health issues, while 58% wish they had more outlets to talk about how they are feeling.
Resilient teens look for outlets to balance their stress and anxiety with their well-being. Healthy coping mechanisms include doing something creative, exercising more and talking to someone. Teens are looking for ways to support their friends. Sixty percent indicated that they “let my friends and peers know I am available to talk to if they need someone.” And 43% “followed or supported someone on social media who has openly talked about their mental health issues.”
While 4-H teens indicated their strengths, they also shared concerns. 4-H’ers are likely to have acted by donating to mental health charities, joining mental health clubs and online communities, and advocating for mental health legislature. However, they also shared that during the pandemic, they have felt anxious or depressed due to:
- Worrying about running out of basic necessities — 27% of 4-H’ers vs. 20% of non 4-H’ers.
- Loss of normalcy and routine — 40% of 4-H’ers vs. 32% of non 4-H’ers.
- Cancellation of extracurriculars, jobs, internships — 44% of 4-H’ers vs. 32% of non 4-H’ers.
4-H in Idaho is listening and helping to find mental health resources for youth and families. We are moving forward, focusing our healthy living efforts on the body and mind incorporating these actions:
- Sponsoring Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) online training at no cost to our UI Extension personnel and 4-H volunteers and anyone who works with youth. The one-hour QPR training provides innovative, practical and proven suicide prevention strategies. Begin the registration process by filling out this form: Begin the registration process by filling out this form: https://uidaho.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_6eRrE4ykkGbvuVT.
- Encouraging youth to practice mindfulness, which means being intentional about thoughts, movement and actions. Using mindfulness strategies may help young people relax and improve well-being throughout the day. 4-H mindfulness resources and curricula are available on our website.
- Advocating for sleep time at all 4-H weekend meetings, camps and conferences. We are educating teens that sleep is not optional, but a requirement to be their best.
- Incorporating physical activity or movement in all 4-H gatherings.
- Serving nutrient-rich snacks and meals at all 4-H gatherings. Taking time to create a reasonable activity budget that supports nutritious foods is the best step, rather than assuming fruits, vegetable, whole grains, low-fat dairy and proteins are unaffordable.
To learn more about healthy living efforts in Idaho, email Maureen Toomey, Area Extension educator, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Helping 4-H Volunteers Address Teen Suicide in Idaho
It is a frightening reality that Idaho is currently one of five western states leading the U.S. in suicide rates. Over 30% of Idaho’s youth in grades 9-12 report experiencing feelings of hopelessness or having suicidal thoughts. The UI Extension 4-H Youth Development program has teamed with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare to bring QPR training to all 4-H volunteers throughout the state. QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer) Gatekeeper training is designed to teach the warnings signs of a suicide crisis and how to respond.
Any 4-H volunteer can invest an hour and help save a life. 4-H volunteers can register now at no cost.
The following resource gives additional information about suicide:
You can make the difference.
I started in Idaho 4-H as a Cloverbud when I was six years old and am looking forward to being a 4-H member for life. Through Idaho 4-H, I have learned all about the world around us: the branches of government, benefits of community service and valuable leadership skills.
One of the best things I’ve learned through Idaho 4-H is that there are so many ways to give back to your community. This year, I am planning community service experiences for my club, Mountain View 4-H.
Supporting Idaho 4-H significantly impacts transformational programs like Know Your Government, Leadership NOW!, and supports activities of local clubs around the state.
Your gift, no matter the size, makes a difference for Idaho 4-H and members like me. Please consider renewing your support of 4-H programs today.
Mountain View 4-H