Minnesota County 4-H Ambassadors

Brian McNeill, Extension Educator, Youth Development - 4-H

The 4-H Ambassador program is Minnesota 4-H’s signature program that provides leadership and civic opportunities for youth in grades 7th through one year out of high school. Currently, Minnesota provides two 4-H Ambassador Programs. We offer a County and a State 4-H Ambassador program. There are currently 76 County Ambassador programs and 25 State Ambassadors.

The state 4-H Citizenship and Leadership team just completed a one year pilot in the state of Minnesota. This pilot was created to test out a new model, new curriculum and a newly created handbook to guide the program. Out of the 87 counties 13 counties were selected to participate in this pilot. Counties in the Southwest region included Big Stone, Kandiyohi and Redwood. Over 150 youth, adult volunteers and 4-H program coordinators participated in the pilot. The state team collected data from quarterly check in calls with staff, 4-Honline enrollment data, end of pilot celebration data, end of pilot calls with staff and volunteers and are in the process of collecting feedback from the youth. 

The data is being used to finalize the new model of county implementation of the program. Some of the findings include:

  • All of the groups mentioned that “Time” was a factor. Time to schedule meetings, time to do the lessons and even time commitment of the participants. The Citizenship & Leadership team will have to try to address the “time” factor of the County 4-H Ambassador Program.

  • The majority of the locations mentioned the format that was provided gave meaning into gathering the youth together and they were appreciative of the lessons which gave them a real “purpose” to meet.

  • The majority of the sites appreciated the “social” side of the program. They developed and established meaningful relationships of peers and adult volunteers.

  • All of the locations reported that their groups would be meeting through the summer and either still planning or implementing their service ideas. Many of the groups also mentioned doing some work at the county fairs.

  • 10 of the sites indicated appreciation of the intentional program planning at the retreat and/or with the guidance of their regional contact person.

  • 4 of the programs indicated they would like to see a lesson every other meeting time.

  • 7 of the programs wanted a more action-based component to each meeting – focusing on service, promotion, doing things in their counties, take and teaches, etc. components, so individual lessons are not necessarily needed on those components.

  • One volunteer shared a reflection from a conversation with her daughter who participated in the program. The youth indicated she had noticed she was more confident in engaging in conversations at school and participated in discussions she normally would have just observed.

This is just the “tip of the iceberg” of data that has been collected through this pilot process. Once the team has reviewed the data revisions will be made to the revised County 4-H Ambassador Program.

Potential next steps include spring trainings for staff and volunteers, summer updates and announcements and a potential fall 2016 rollout of a consistent statewide County 4-H Ambassador model. 

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