Vibrant Leadership

Carrie Ann Olson, Extension Educator, Youth Development

October 2016

Webster's Dictionary defines Vibrant as “pulsating with life, vigor or activity."

We all want to belong to groups that are “pulsating with life, vigor or activity”.  Dr. Kirk Astroth, with Arizona State Extension, was intrigued with the different levels of energy, enthusiasm, and life that seemed to exist among the youth groups he and others worked with.  He was so intrigued that he conducted a yearlong study to determine why some youth groups are healthier and more effective than others. He found these groups shared a number of characteristics.

This year’s Minnesota 4-H Fall Volunteer Training “Vibrant Youth -- Vibrant Clubs, Leadership Takes a Village” focuses on four of these characteristics that really pertain to building leadership in clubs.

Vibrant YouthVibrant youth groups:

  1. Support each other.  They take time to encourage and give timely feedback.  Discouraging comments are rarely heard in a vibrant youth group.
  2. Change how they do things but not what they do.  They hold true to their mission, but don’t get bogged down in “it’s always been done like this.”  Vibrant youth groups are open to the fresh ideas of new members and their families.  
  3. Communicate and listen.   Members in vibrant youth groups feel like they’re listened to and respected.  They make a conscious effort to involve everyone in discussions and decisions.
  4. Take time for training.  They are intentional about planning for the involvement and success of youth and view youth and adults as equal partners.

Because we want all young people to experience 4-H, these characteristics are particularly important as Minnesota 4-H looks at engaging more first generation 4-H families and volunteers.  Groups with vibrant leadership attract and retain membership while engaging all in its activities.  Check out the MN 4-H fall volunteer training website to learn more about training in your area.  

Adapted from: Astroth, Kirk A. (1996). Welcome to the Club: Education Where the Bell Never Rings. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University.

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