Youth Focus

Youth Focus
Youth development is the work of young people. It is an ongoing process through which young people attempt to meet their basic needs and develop competencies they perceive as necessary for survival and transition to adulthood.

Positive youth development refers to development that is healthy and productive for both youth and their communities. Such development requires making connections with others, learning to demonstrate caring and compassion toward others, developing moral character, and gaining confidence in themselves that allow them to make meaningful contributions to their world (Pittman, 2000).

Youth-In-Governance is engaging youth in their communities to serve on boards or committees that make decisions about issues that concern youth. When young people work in partnership with adults on boards, coalitions, commissions, or other governing structures, it is called youth in governance. Youth in governance is also referred to as youth on boards and youth as decision makers.

The goal is to engage young people in determining outcomes related to an issue, a project, or a program in their communities.

An upcoming YOUth Leadership Academy in Pierre from March 30 through April 1 will help youth/adult teams learn how to involve young people in community decisions that affect youth.

"YOUth Leadership Academy is a conference for youth and adults who want to participate together in the decision-making process in their communities," said Marilyn Rasmussen, a youth development/4-H specialist for South Dakota State University Cooperative Extension. "Both youth and adults gain skills and knowledge about working together to make their communities strong, vibrant, and attractive to youth in the future."

The event is open to high school sophomores and juniors with an adult partner from a sponsoring organization. Examples of possible sponsoring organizations are service organizations such as Kiwanis, Rotary or Lions clubs; a church board, school board, or fair board; a city council or county commission; a community foundation; or a parks and recreation department.

Participants will learn how youth/adult partnerships work; gain skills in civic engagement; learn how to involve young people in decision-making; and develop action plans for their organizations or communities.

Registration costs $100 for one youth and one adult partner, or $150 for two youths and one adult partner. The event takes place at the Ramkota Hotel in Pierre starting at 6:30 p.m. on March 30 and ending at 10 a.m. on April 1.

Download registration information online at Click on "Adults/Volunteers." You can also request a registration packet by calling Marilyn Rasmussen at (605) 688-4167, or by e-mailing her at

Local county Extension offices will also have the information needed to register. Applications are due by March 3.

Support for the conference comes from Governor Rounds' 2010 Initiative, the South Dakota Cooperative Extension Service, the Corn Utilization Board, the South Dakota Community Foundation, the South Dakota 4-H Foundation, and South Dakota commodity groups.

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