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Using disruptive innovation to grow 4-H

Tags: 4-H,   Andy Turner,   CCE,   New York,   video,   youth,  

By Sheri Hall for the BCTR

Portrait of Andy Turner

Andy Turner

If you follow business news – and specifically small, up-and-coming companies – you may have heard the term “disruptive innovation.” The theory, developed by Clayton Christensen from the Harvard Business School, describes how a product or process can leap ahead of established market leaders by reducing cost, increasing convenience, and bringing new customers to the table.  Could disruptive innovation help grow 4-H?

Andy Turner, head of the New York State 4-H Youth Development program (administered through and housed in the BCTR) of Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) thinks so. He is applying disruptive innovation theory to 4-H.  His dissertation, published in 2016, documented disruptive innovation at Cornell Cooperative Extension and attempted to identify the factors and conditions allowing innovation to grow and be adopted more widely.

Turner was asked to present his work at the Joint Council of Extension Professionals (JCEP) Virtual Town Hall Meeting in Orlando Florida earlier this year.  Turner and the other panelists discussed the challenges and barriers facing innovation adoption and responsiveness to emerging issues in CCE. The presentation reached a live audience of 300 and an online audience of an additional 500 extension staff from across the country.

Cooperative Extension has existed for more than 100 years with established programs and a track record of success, Turner said. But its approaches and organizational culture may not align well with changes in our culture, demographic shifts, and the impact of the internet on all facets of education.

“As a result, disruptive innovation is particularly relevant to Cooperative Extension as its work shifts to new ways of thinking and acting that will appeal to youth with new challenges, different approaches to learning, and markedly different expectations for engaging with educational institutions,” he said.

Dr. Turner is applying his work on innovation at a critical time for 4-H. 4-H offers an experiential learning approach to reach over 6 million youth annually, with programming in nearly every county in the nation.  However, like many large youth organizations, 4-H participation levels have not been growing, and there are many communities and youth that are underrepresented in 4-H programming.

In response, the national leadership of 4-H has embraced an ambitious growth vision, with the goal of using concepts like disruptive innovation and collaborative design processes to increase 4-H’s enrollment to 10 million youth by 2025.  Turner will be working with national 4-H leadership and private-sector 4-H supporters over the next two years to develop a blueprint for change based on identifying promising innovations already underway within state 4-H programs.

Dr. Turner leads a team of 8 program and administrative leaders at the New York State 4-H Office in the BCTR. You can reach him at ast4cornell.edu.

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: 4-H    Andy Turner    CCE    New York    video    youth   

NY 4-H student shadows MSNBC anchor Craig Melvin

Tags: 4-H,   Andy Turner,   media mention,   video,   youth,   youth development,  

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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(0) Comments.  |   Tags: 4-H    Andy Turner    media mention    video    youth    youth development   

New podcast episodes with Turner, Loeckenhoff, and Burrow


The BCTR's Doing Translational Research podcast engages researchers and practitioners in conversation about their work, and how they are involved in translational research. Our latest three episodes feature Andy Turner, Corinna Loeckenhoff, and Anthony Burrow.

turnerIn episode 3, BCTR director Karl Pillemer speaks with NY State 4-H leader Andy Turner about 4-H/Cornell connections and changes he sees that will keep 4-H at the forefront of youth development programming.

loeckenhoffNext for episode 4 Karl talks with Corinna Loeckenhoff (associate professor of Human Development and director of the Laboratory for Healthy Aging at Cornell and associate professor of Gerontology in Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College) about her research on aging and its effects on emotional and mental health.

burrowAnd, in the latest podcast, episode 5, the discussion is with Anthony Burrow (assistant professor of Human Development, director of the Purpose and Identity Processes Lab, and co-director of the Program for Research on Youth Development and Engagement (PRYDE) at Cornell) about the importance of purpose in the lives of young people and the ways that we can encourage youth connection to purpose for their own benefit.

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(0) Comments.  |   Tags: Andy Turner    Anthony Burrow    Corinna Loeckenhoff    doing translational research    podcast   

Doing Translational Research podcast: Andrew Turner, Thursday, April 19, 2018

andyturner View Media

Doing Translational Research podcast: Andrew Turner

The Future of 4-H
Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Andrew Turner
Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research, Cornell University


The Future of 4-H
Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Andrew Turner
Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research, Cornell University

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: 4-H    Andy Turner    CCE    doing translational research    podcast    youth    youth development   

New research initiative to promote positive youth development


Anthony Burrow and Jane Mendle

Anthony Burrow and Jane Mendle

The BCTR is pleased to announce the launch of a new initiative called the Program for Research on Youth Development and Engagement (PRYDE). Continuing the legacy of Urie Bronfenbrenner, the program will link science and service in innovative ways by involving 4-H communities in basic and applied research designed to understand and improve youth experiences.

PRYDE is led by BCTR faculty affiliates Anthony Burrow and Jane Mendle, both faculty members in the Department of Human Development. The program is supported by a BCTR-funded post-doctoral fellow, Jennifer Agans, as well as an advisory committee of 4-H and BCTR faculty and staff including Andy Turner, Karl Pillemer, Elaine Wethington, and Marie Cope. PRYDE’s initial projects include the development of an interactive mapping tool for Cornell faculty and staff to identify 4-H Youth Development programs with populations that meet their research needs, as well as and a new study to examine the role of purpose in youth engagement in 4-H programs.

These activities will lay the groundwork for PRYDE’s primary goal of creating a nationally prominent program for translational research on youth development to benefit the thousands of urban and rural 4-H participants in New York State and beyond. Stay tuned for resources and opportunities to get involved!

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: 4-H    Andy Turner    Anthony Burrow    Elaine Wethington    Jane Mendle    Karl Pillemer    Marie Cope    PRYDE    youth    youth development   
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