While the Extension Office has been successfully developing young people into capable, competent, caring, contributing citizens through 4-H for more than 100 years, it is becoming increasingly evident that the skills needed for success in the 21st century work force are not the same skills needed 100 years ago.
As a result of a transition into a knowledge-based society and economy, changing demographics, technology and other forces, young people are entering a fast-paced and knowledge-intensive workplace and are facing challenges they need to be prepared for.
Organizations are looking for employees with skills for success in the knowledge economy, skills such as work ethic, teamwork, communication and problem-solving. The Extension 4-H program offers these skills for our youths.
However, we must adapt our programs to meet the current needs for workforce preparation of todays employers. This process entails Extension gaining a greater knowledge of the local community and its connection with local employers. Furthermore, it will allow Extension to integrate work-force preparation skills to add value to current programs to provide a real-world connection to the skills our youths are developing.
La Plata County 4-H will look to build 21st-century skills language into our programs and use tools and opportunities for focused reflection that will facilitate the generalizing process and application to the future.
We will encourage our members in making a connection between what they are learning now and skills needed for the future. In addition, we must foster practical experiences to practice these skills in 4-H. This can be done through establishing work-based learning programs and service-oriented work opportunities. We can then effectively collect and report the impacts our young people are making in our community and through our partnerships with different stakeholders.
In times of economic challenge, Extension 4-H programs must also lead the way in the motivation and commitment to creating the entrepreneurs of our future. As the local food movement continues to grow, it provides 4-H with a tremendous opportunity to train the next local farmers, ranchers and home-economics professionals for our area. In addition, 4-H can help our youths develop the skills needed to create a successful small business through our emerging programs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Providing our youths with increased knowledge in the information-based economy can give them a greater competitive edge for employment in the future.
Through working on the implementation team for the La Plata County Children, Youth and Family Master Plan, it will not only be encouraged but expected that our youths take part in shaping the future of La Plata County. Extension 4-H, through its ability to link youths with the proper skills in workforce preparation, can have great benefits for our community. Colorado State University Extension is a valuable resource provided by our government to assist in this process.
We ask that all youths, businesses and organizations interested in taking part in greater job preparation training in our area, please contact our Extension office.
email@example.com or 382-6463. Greg Felsen is 4-H youth development agent for the La Plata County Extension Office.