February 1996 // Volume 34 // Number 1 // Ideas at Work // 1IAW3

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Ohio 4-H Teen Community Leadership: Teens Teaching Youth and Adults

This article describes the Ohio 4-H Teen Community Leadership College. This program has given teens extensive training in leadership skills that they are using to teach other youth and adults. The teen teachers are having a great impact in their schools and communities by teaching leadership skills and fulfilling leadership roles. The Ohio 4-H Teen Community Leadership College is an excellent example of a train-the-trainer program.

Susan Rinehart, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
County Extension Agent
4-H/Community Development/Chair
The Ohio State University
Logan, Ohio
Internet address: hodson.1@osu.edu

Scott Kleon
Assistant Professor
County Extension Agent
Circleville, Ohio
Internet address: kleon.1@osu.edu

Local need surveys conducted in several Ohio counties have identified teen leadership skill development and preparing teens for increased community involvement to be priority issues. Secondary school administrators have stated that Ohio 4-H Teen Community Leadership College graduates are having a great impact on students in their schools by teaching them skills they can use in fulfilling leadership roles in school and community groups. Students have used their leadership skills by playing an active role in school and community affairs.

Teens have taught conflict management, communication, time management, decision making and leadership skills to over 6,000 youth and adults since the program's origination in 1989. A multiplier affect is helping to ensure that a wide range of audiences are bettering their way of life by using skills enabling them to make wiser decisions, participate in community affairs and decision making, resolve conflict, and increase communication skills.

The objectives of the program are as follows:

  1. To train teens in the areas of leadership, communication, conflict management, decision making, time management, and leadership styles.

  2. To teach teens they have the ability to achieve and are responsible for their own lives.

  3. To empower teens by teaching them how to develop their positive attributes enabling them to be self-confident and independent thinkers.

  4. To allow teens to actively participate in the community and pass their skills and values on to other teens through volunteerism.

  5. To promote the volunteer ethic among teens, which includes serving as ambassadors for furthering 4-H youth development.

As a result of the Ohio 4-H Teen Community Leadership College, 180 teens have received extensive training in leadership skills that they are using to teach other youth and adults. The youth and adult audiences are providing leadership in groups that help plan programs, form policies, and work with other youth and adult groups. The training enables them to do a better job of helping other adults and youth gain leadership skills.

To become trainers, teens must complete a three-day workshop that focuses on training participants to become effective teachers of leadership and self development programs. During the program, teens are trained in the subject matter areas of time management, leadership styles, communications, self esteem, decision making, and conflict management. Teaching methods are also a part of the curriculum. On the last day of the college, teens are required to team-teach a lesson on one of the subject matter topics. Each team is critiqued by professional instructors to help prepare them for programs in their home counties. Participation in the college is limited to thirty participants annually which allows for both individualized attention to the teens and development of a teamwork attitude.

Human and financial resources have been gained through collaboration with outside organizations, individuals, and groups. The program has included collaboration with community leaders, educational leaders, community business managers, the media, and community/corporate volunteers. One example is a program conducted for teaching 100 high school and junior high students. Collaborative efforts included a teenage sexuality and pregnancy prevention grant, Kiwanis Club, a mental health and alcohol and drug addiction center and local schools working together to sponsor the education program.

The program allows teens to participate in the community and pass their skills and values on to other teens and adults through volunteerism. The trained teen leaders have been involved in teaching roles in various settings and for a wide range of audiences including district teen retreats, Ohio 4-H Congress, school programs for all grades, minority programs, camp counselor education, officer and advisor training, drug and alcoholism counsel programs, and school programs for talented and gifted students.