Speak Up: Kansas 4-H members tackle national communications course



Youth hone skills in public speaking

MANHATTAN, Kan. – Kansas 4-H members had no problem putting some of their extra stay-at-home time during the COVID-19 pandemic to good use.

Diane Mack, a 4-H youth development specialist in the northeast region, said youth from 32 extension units in Kansas participated in a course to help them communicate their ideas more effectively.

“When the pandemic hit, we asked club leaders what it is that they needed during these times,” Mack said. “What we learned was that they had an interest in hands-on learning activities that could be taught in 15-20 minutes.”

A team of regional 4-H youth development specialists designed a six-part course based on the National 4-H Council’s communications curriculum. Beginning last October, 4-H officials trained 98 volunteer project leaders to teach the lessons.

Mack said communications is one of 34 projects available to youth enrolled in the Kansas 4-H program.

The course, she added, helped youth think about key aspects of communication, such as active listening, responding to an audience and actually giving a presentation or demonstration to a group or person.

“One of the things we stress to young people is to start with a topic that you really have an interest in and that you know something about so you can share that with others, versus trying to just pick up a topic you don’t know anything about,” Mack said.

The six-step process began with a lesson titled ‘Communication and Me.’

“The goal of that one was for youth to become more aware of their own communication preferences, as well as introducing verbal and non-verbal communication, and active listening,” Mack said.

Other lessons covered tips for making communications clear and concise; writing an outline for a talk; using illustrations in public presentations; and effective ways to give a demonstration.

Many of the youth put their learning to the test during the annual 4-H Days, during which they gave presentations to a judge for feedback. Many others will use their skills at this summer’s county and state fairs, according to Mack.

Training webinars for volunteers are available on the Kansas 4-H communications project web page. More information on opportunities available through Kansas 4-H is available online.

FOR PRINT PUBLICATIONS: Links used in this story
Kansas 4-H, www.kansas4-h.org

Kansas 4-H project list, www.kansas4-h.org/projects

Kansas 4-H communications project, www.kansas4-h.org/projects/personal-development/communications.html

K State Research and Extension is a short name for the Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service, a program designed to generate and distribute useful knowledge for the well being of Kansans. Supported by county, state, federal and private funds, the program has county extension offices, experiment fields, area extension offices and regional research centers statewide. Its headquarters is on the K State campus in Manhattan. For more information, visit www.ksre.ksu.edu. K-State Research and Extension is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Story by:
Pat Melgares
[email protected]

For more information:
Diane Mack
[email protected]


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