Members of the Kent County 4-H program took part in a weekend Junior Leader Retreat from Friday, Feb. 23 through Sunday, Feb. 25 learning skills to increase their leadership abilities and gaining additional tools to use when working with groups and leading.
The participants took part in workshops that covered everything from communication skills needed when working as part of a team, to how to help those in need who are being pestered by a bully, to learning all about how to use social media in a safe, responsible way.
They also planned the Younger Member Weekend where they will lead younger members of 4-H, ages 8-12, through a weekend retreat of their own.
Jenny Trunfio, 4-H program assistant, said that the 4-H participants practiced a lot of team challenges to help with leadership and communication skills. One such challenge involved teams working together to put together a puzzle but they couldn’t talk and weren’t allowed to touch other members’ puzzle pieces.
“Some thoughts for them during that exercise were that if you can’t communicate, if there’s no way for you to say, ‘Your puzzle piece goes over here,’ how do you get around that? We did a lot of activities like that to get them thinking about how to communicate with a team, how to work together and then we also did some leadership type activities and showed them some challenges in their leadership roles,” Trunfio said.
Rachel Taylor, a member of 4-H who attended the event, said that her favorite part of the weekend was hanging out with friends, sharing laughs and making new memories.
“We did so many activities that helped us determine the type of leader we are [such as one] through animal comparisons. As a specific animal group, we learned the strengths and weakness we hold as a leader. This was a fun way to better ourselves as a leader,” said Taylor.
Taylor added that 4-H allows its members to find their true selves.
“Throughout the course of the retreat, youth are able to find their strengths and weaknesses as a leader. When you determine these characteristics, it helps you determine how you can improve yourself to be the best leader possible,” said Taylor. “It also provides knowledge that you can bring back to your club and community. For example, I attended a social media workshop. During this workshop, I learned how to be safe when using social media. I can take the knowledge I learned and bring it into a presentation that I could do with my club.”
Christy Mannering, communications specialist in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Delaware, led the presentation on social media and stressed that there are a variety of social media platforms that all have different privacy and location settings.
“They’re all going to have different terms and privacy policies. The more you’re connected to them and the more they’re connected to each other, the more they share with each other cross-platform,” said Mannering.
Mannering also let the 4-H participants know that sometimes even though they are posting in an appropriate fashion, other people may tag them or mention them in something public, saying that it doesn’t hurt to Google yourself every now and then to see what is out there.
To emphasize this point, the first 10 minutes of her presentation shared information she had found about each member participating in the session, as Trunfio had given her a list of names in advance.
“It’s important to know that you’re pictures and your interests are connected, your favorite sports, book, hobbies are linked with pictures of your face, you don’t want strangers to take advantage by using that information,” said Mannering.