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4-H event boosts youth confidence in future studies

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By Stephen D’Angelo for the Cornell Chronicle

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Career Explorations participants synthesizing gold nanoparticles by using gold chloride and citric acid in hot water

More than 400 middle and high school students from 45 New York state counties and extension programs made their way to Cornell’s Ithaca campus June 27-29 to investigate the mysteries of the cosmos, perform physical exams on small and large animals, understand the intricacies of food science and learn to program robots.

These activities were only a few of the many workshops taught by Cornell faculty, staff and graduate students during the 4-H Career Explorations conference, an annual event that exposes youth to academic fields and career exploration by delivering a hands-on experience in a college setting.

“Our main purpose of career explorations is to give young people a chance to get a feel for careers that they’ve never even heard of, or maybe never even considered for themselves,” said Alexa Maille, conference coordinator and New York State 4-H science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) specialist with Cornell Cooperative Extension at the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research, a research and outreach branch of the College of Human Ecology.

“This is the first college experience for a lot our participants and we receive a good amount of feedback from these youth, both during the conference and after, saying that they are now interested in pursuing future studies or a career in one of the subject areas that they were exposed to here first,” Maille added.

Dozens of scholarships were made available through the New York State 4-H Foundation and Cornell University.

The conference’s 30 programs focused on healthy living, STEM, civic engagement and leadership and were facilitated by the Colleges of Human Ecology, Agriculture and Life Sciences, Arts and Sciences, and Engineering and Information Science, as well as the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art and the Museum of the Earth. The event connected youth to academic fields including engineering, animal science, astronomy, environmental science, food science, nanotechnology and human development.

A program titled “A Tour of Human Development across the Lifespan,” organized by the Bronfenbrenner Center’s Program for Research on Youth Development and Engagement (PRYDE), introduced human development to students with interests in sociology, psychology, neuroscience, medicine, education, public health or social work.

“We really wanted to expose the youth to both the idea of lifespan human development, showing them that development continues at all ages, and to different research methods,” said Jennifer Agans, PRYDE assistant director for research on youth development and engagement. “For us, this was really an amazing opportunity to work directly with youth and teach them about social science, as well as to align to our mission in connecting 4-H programs with campus research.”

Students heard from professors about their research, visited the fMRI lab and saw how brain scans can provide insights into human behavior. They also participated in career-related activities including interviews and focus group to better understand research methods.

And students discussed academic directions and personal career pathways with graduate students, lab managers, program assistants and postdoctoral fellows, who shed light on the transition from high school to college to career.

Skyler Masse, 16, from Niagara County, participated in the human development program and is interested in a career in medicine and health.

“Working hand-in-hand with the professors and students allowed me to be able to see that it’s okay not to have a direct route to college; there are many options, and a lot more options, than you may think there are,” she said. “Interviewing graduate students and postdocs, and hearing directly from them, helped me realize that it’s okay to change what you’re doing, even in college. You don’t have to have a set major, and that they went through the same thing.”

Meghan Stang, 17, from Cattaraugas County, is considering physical therapy as a career. She said the experience has given her more confidence in her future academic and professional life.

“Just listening to all of the graduate students and undergraduate students who came and spoke to us, they were in a similar situation when they were my age, and now they are succeeding in life,” she said. “It makes me think that even though I don’t know exactly where I want to go or what I want to do around physical therapy, I’ll be okay. I will succeed.”

 

4-H event boosts youth confidence in future studies - Cornell Chronicle

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4-H intern on The Chew with Carla Hall

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By Sheri Hall for the BCTR

news-4h-carlahall-inpostA 4-H intern from Brooklyn spent the day learning about cooking and entertainment from chef and TV personality Carla Hall thanks to a national 4-H mentoring program.

4-Her Jasmine Roberts is a dietician student at Brooklyn College. She spent a day shadowing Hall – a finalist on the cooking reality show Top Chef and co-host of the talk show The Chew – through the National 4-H Council's “Day in the Life Experience,” which connects youth with 4-H alumni.

Roberts is an intern with 4-H in New York City. She is currently mentoring high school students about the importance of nutrition and health through the 4-H Choose Health Action Teens program. She spent the day shadowing Hall at The Chew television set and then visiting Hall’s restaurant in Brooklyn.

Hall, herself, participated in 4-H cooking competitions as a youth, and said she appreciated the opportunity to give back to the program.

“Some of the skills I learned in 4-H that have helped me in life are being adventurous and trying something new,” she said. “Now, it’s about opening up the 4-Hers eyes to where they can go, and to the potential and to have no limitations.”

About 190,000 youth ages 5-19 participate in 4-H programs throughout New York each year. The program – housed in the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research – serves as the youth outreach component of Cornell Cooperative Extension.

A major focus of 4-H is to help youth experience hands-on learning opportunities in science and technology, healthy living and civic engagement that help them grow into competent, caring and contributing members of society, says Andy Turner, New York State Leader for 4-H at Cornell University.

“Jasmine’s experience highlights core elements for 4-H,” he said. “It was hands-on and empowering.  You can see a powerful connection developing that could make a huge impact on how Jasmine thinks about her future goals.  That process of youth and adult partnership and mentoring lies at the heart of the 4-H program. “

 

The Chew’s Carla Hall Is Thankful for 4-H - Parade Magazine

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NY 4-H student shadows MSNBC anchor Craig Melvin

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John Gabalski at MSNBC studios, NYC. (Jason DeCrow/AP Images for National 4-H Council)

John Gabalski at MSNBC studios, NYC. (Jason DeCrow/AP Images for National 4-H Council)

By Sheri Hall for the BCTR

A 4-H student from Orleans County learned about broadcasting last month from an accomplished role model: NBC news anchor Craig Melvin.

Fifteen-year-old John Gabalski was selected to spend the day at NBC Studios at Rockefeller Center with Melvin, who anchors MSNBC Live on weekdays and co-anchors the Today Saturday edition. The visit was part of the National 4-H Council’s “Day in the Life Experience,” which connects youth with 4-H alumni.

Gabalski, who is interested in a career in journalism, had the chance to watch Melvin’s one-hour broadcast live and learn about what it takes to work at a major news network. “It was very interesting to see how everything works behind the camera, the way they handle the cameras and the lighting,” Gabalski told his local newspaper, orleanshub.com.

Gabalski is a member of the Orleans County Rabbit Raisers and Outback Orleans 4-H Clubs, and is also a member of Orleans County 4-H Senior Council.

John Gabalski with Craig Melvin on set at MSNBC. (Jason DeCrow/AP Images for National 4-H Council)

John Gabalski with Craig Melvin on set at MSNBC. (Jason DeCrow/AP Images for National 4-H Council)

About 190,000 youth ages 5-19 participate in 4-H programs throughout New York each year. The program – housed in the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research – serves as the youth outreach component of Cornell Cooperative Extension.  

A major focus of 4-H is to help youth experience hands-on learning opportunities in science and technology, healthy living, and civic engagement that help them grow into competent, caring, and contributing members of society, says Andy Turner, New York State leader for 4-H at Cornell University.

“One of the core foundations of 4-H is to connect youth to caring adult mentors who can help them explore interests and potentially help them shape their college and career pathway,” he said. “Although John’s experience with Craig Melvin was unique and exceptional, it represents the ideals and goals we are seeking for all youth involved in 4-H.” 

 

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New systematic translational review on outcomes for 4-H youth

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What is the quality of empirical evidence for youth outcomes as a result of their participation in 4-H? The BCTR's Research Synthesis Project addressed this question in their latest systematic translational review (STR).

4-H is the largest youth development organization in the United States, providing programming to over six million youth. Despite its reach, very little research has been conducted to assess youth outcomes within 4-H. To better understand the body of evidence for 4-H youth
participant outcomes, the Cornell Program for Research on Youth Development and Engagement (PRYDE) requested an STR to describe the quality, type, and focus of available evidence from both peer-reviewed and grey literature.

The Evidence for Outcomes from Youth Participation in 4-H STR finds that while there is some evidence suggesting 4-H participation provides some positive outcomes, most of the available studies lack rigorous research designs, which reduces confidence in the validity of these results.

The BCTR Research Synthesis Project supports the development of high-quality evidence summaries on topics nominated by practitioners and faculty within the Cornell Cooperative Extension system to illuminate the evidence base for their work.

To meet this need, the Systematic Translational Review (STR) process was developed to provide replicable systems and protocols for conducting timely and trustworthy research syntheses. STRs include the systematic features of a traditional review, the speed of a rapid review, and the inclusion of practitioner expertise to help guide search parameters and identify appropriate sources. By drawing upon both practitioner wisdom and the best available empirical evidence, the STR process supports the translation of evidence to practice in real-world settings.

A full listing of past STRs can be found here.

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Doing Translational Research podcast: Jennifer Agans

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Research/Community Partnerships
Monday, December 5, 2016

Jennifer Agans
Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research, Cornell University

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Talks at Twelve: Jennifer Agans

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The Program for Research on Youth Development and Engagement (PRYDE): Integrating Research and Practice
Thursday, December 8, 2016

Jennifer Agans
BCTR, Cornell University

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Researchers evaluate a program for boys to avert sexual violence

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By Susan Kelley for the Cornell Chronicle

Jane Powers, Mary Maley, Amanda Purington, and Janis Whitlock

Jane Powers, Mary Maley, Amanda Purington, and Janis Whitlock

Cornell is helping to usher in new, more effective ways to prevent sexual violence.

A team from the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research (BCTR) is evaluating a curriculum for boys aged 12-14 aimed at preventing sexual violence. The program is a shift from previous approaches, which generally focused on helping people avoid becoming victims of sexual assault.

Instead, this approach aims to keep boys and young men from committing sexual violence in the first place.

“If you want to stop perpetration, this may be the best tack to take,” said Mary Maley, extension associate for research synthesis and translation. “This is an innovative approach, because we’re looking at reducing risk for perpetration, not reducing risk for becoming a victim.”

BCTR is working in partnership with the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH), which recently was awarded a $1 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). New York state is one of five awardees nationwide to receive a CDC grant to evaluate various programs to prevent sexual assault.

BCTR is the research arm of the NYSDOH project. The team will spend this first year refining the methodology, developing research tools and protocols, and recruiting program sites and participants. Data collection will begin in the fall of 2017.

The BCTR team will be working with a curriculum, the Council for Boys and Young Men, developed by the One Circle Foundation, which provides training and curricula that promote resiliency and healthy relationships. The basic idea is that male facilitators will set up and lead “councils” which consist of eight to 10 boys in seven to nine urban upstate sites.

Much of the content focuses on prosocial behavior. Councils will meet a few hours a week for several months, focusing on activities, dialogue and self-expression that challenge myths about what it means to be a “real man.” They’ll learn behavior that prevents violence, such as how to step in when they see bullying. They’ll also work on activities that develop empathic behavior, communication and relationship skills, and the ability to respect difference. Another seven to nine sites will serve as study controls to enable the researchers to test the efficacy of the curriculum.

“The idea is that they’re building strong relationships with each other and with a positive adult role model, so they’re actually able to model what positive relationships can be,” said Janis Whitlock, co-principal investigator and lead of the research team.

The middle school years are a prime time to help boys develop these skills, she said. This is the age at which they start to tune in to broader ideas about what it means to be a man or a woman.

Many of the risk factors for sexual violence, such as hypermasculinity and endorsement of aggression, are attitudinal and start to develop at this age through many moments of interactions with other boys and men, Whitlock said.

“This is a perfect time to be giving them a variety of models to choose from, because boys in particular face fairly narrow models of what it means to be a man,” she said.

Evaluation of this type of program comes at an opportune time, Whitlock said, as the definition of sexual assault has greatly expanded in recent years. Historically, sexual violence has meant penetration only. Now it includes unwanted touch, comments, penetration in various ways, and negative online behavior.

That’s important, because middle school boys have the potential to be involved in minor forms of sexual violence, such as unwanted touch, sexting and sharing of others’ images online, Whitlock said.

In this environment, the CDC’s vision was to evaluate the most innovative programs available, Whitlock said. “They wanted to push the envelope so we can get some traction on this issue, because it’s not getting better.”

The project continues a long and fruitful partnership between NYSDOH and BCTR, according to co-investigator Jane Powers. Together the two entities have collaborated over two decades to strengthen community support for youth using research-based programs and practices, she said.

“Results of this research will potentially improve the health and wellbeing of youth in New York state and beyond,” Powers said.

 

Researchers evaluate a program for boys to avert sexual violence - Cornell Chronicle

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Doing Translational Research podcast: Jennifer Agans

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podcast agansIn episode 9 of the podcast, Karl welcomes Jen Agans, assistant director of the Program for Research on Youth Development and Engagement (PRYDE). They discuss the importance of research/community partnerships, Agan's research on children's out-of-school time, and Agans explains what exactly the 4-H program is.

Dr. Jennifer Agans is assistant director of PRYDE in the Bronfenbrenner Center. Before coming to Cornell University, she received her Ph.D. and M.A. in child study and human development from Tufts University and her B.A. in psychology from Macalester College. Dr. Agans’ research focuses on youth development within out-of-school time contexts, and her work with PRYDE builds on her interest in bridging youth research and practice.

Ep. 9: Research/Community Partnerships with Jennifer Agans, PRYDE, Cornell - Doing Translational Research podcast

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Drone Discovery in Brooklyn and across the nation

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New York City schoolchildren fly foam gliders to mark 4-H National Youth Science Day at Public School 21 in Brooklyn.

New York City schoolchildren fly foam gliders to mark 4-H National Youth Science Day at Public School 21 in Brooklyn.

By Jon Craig for the Cornell Chronicle

A Brooklyn school gymnasium was transformed into a landing pad for drones on Oct. 7 as part of a Cornell-sponsored science discovery program.

Laughter, cheering and plenty of questions from more than 300 inner-city schoolchildren filled the air at Public School 21. Drone Discovery in New York City was a big hit, and part of a larger 4-H National Youth Science Day that involved an estimated 100,000 children across the country.

Lucinda Randolph-Benjamin, Cornell Cooperative Extension-New York City extension associate for family and 4-H youth development, kept busy rounding up and lining up students in various work stations. At one of the stations, they eagerly learned coding – to design virtual flight paths. Another gave them a chance to make gliders and hover aircraft while learning about vertical and horizontal flight maneuvers.

The most popular task of the day, however, was flying drones made of white foam and videotaping solo flights with mini-cameras.

Teachers, Cornell staff, collegiate 4-Hers and 4-H leaders and volunteers designed the drone challenge and later guided excited schoolchildren through the learning exercises.

“We get to constantly learn, too,” said Jackie Davis-Manigaulte ’72, a senior extension associate based in Manhattan.

Susan Hoskins, senior extension associate at Cornell’s Institute for Resource Information Sciences, said the children are also taught about how unmanned drones are used in many real-world applications beyond warfare, including collecting agricultural data on crops, plants and diseases; bird and other wildlife studies; in search-and-rescue operations; and inspecting underneath bridges and servicing out-of-reach utility lines.

“We continually learn from each other and together,” Hoskins said.

Davis-Manigaulte said teachers are given 4-H discovery packets so they can continue discussing and practicing what the students learned at P.S. 21 on Oct. 7.

“We want to make sure these youths get stimulated,” Hoskins said.

They’re encouraged to think differently from how they would in a traditional classroom setting, Davis-Manigaulte added, noting the exposure might get them thinking about studying different subjects or pursuing careers in research, science or aviation.

Drone Discovery and the accompanying engineering design challenges were developed by staff and faculty members in Cornell Cooperative Extension and the College of Human Ecology. In addition to solving real-world problems, students are taught about safety and regulations, remote sensing and flight control.

“We’re trying to connect these kids with bigger issues,” Hoskins said.
[end of Chronicle article]

maille 4-h

Alexa Maille with schoolchildren in Brooklyn on National Youth Science Day

NY State 4-H at Cornell was selected by National 4-H to design and lead this year's 4-H National Youth Science Day project. This spring, at the time of the announcement that NY 4-H would lead the competition, Alexa Maille, NY State 4-H STEM specialist in the BCTR, said, “4-H is a powerful vehicle for STEM education because it is based on what young people are interested in, allowing them to take an active role in their learning. Drone Discovery will provide youth an outlet to practice thinking like scientists and engineers, as well as engaged citizens, as they explore cutting-edge technology. This project will foster a sense of discovery in youth all around the country.”

 

A drone flies in Brooklyn; kids fascinated - Cornell Chronicle

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Talks at Twelve: Jennifer Agans, Thursday, December 8, 2016

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jennifer agans

The Program for Research on Youth Development and Engagement (PRYDE): Integrating Research and Practice
Jennifer Agans, BCTR

Thursday, December 8, 2016
12:00 - 1:00 PM
Beebe Hall, 2nd floor conference room



The Program for Research on Youth Development and Engagement (PRYDE) is a relatively new project in the BCTR. Working in partnership with New York State 4-H Youth Development programs, PRYDE strives to understand and improve the lives of today’s youth and promote positive youth development through innovative research and evidence-based approaches. In its first year, PRYDE has received considerable support and encouragement from both campus and county. In this talk Agans will discuss the program’s strategies, progress, and ongoing learning about the process of research-practice collaboration.

Jennifer Agans, Ph.D., is a research associate in the BCTR and the assistant director of the Program for Research on Youth Development and Engagement (PRYDE). Her work with PRYDE focuses on building capacity for campus-county partnerships between researchers at Cornell and 4-H programs across New York State. This work builds on her interests in translational and applied youth development research and the ways in which out-of-school time activities can foster positive youth development.

 

This talk is open to all. Lunch will be served. Metered parking is available in the Botanical Gardens lot across the road from Beebe Hall. No registration or RSVP required except fo groups of 5 or more. We ask that larger groups email Patty at pmt6@cornell.edu letting us know of your plans to attend so that we can order enough lunch.

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