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Johnson County

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Johnson County
11811 S. Sunset Drive
Suite 1500
Olathe, KS 66061

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Monday - Friday,
8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.

(913) 715-7000
(913) 715-7005 fax

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Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service

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Effective Communications

Return to agent articles.

The word "character" sparks debate on what this means to today's youth. I asked my resident fifteen year old how she would define the word character. Her first response was "Harry Potter." I redirected and said,"No, not an actual character but what it means to be considered a person with good character." She followed up with "someone confident and willing to take risks." I thought this was quite insightful and I asked who among her group would fall into this category. She named a peer from her group. I probed some more and asked what else deems them worthy of good character. She stated this person was "confident, not afraid to ask questions and talked a lot. I found myself pondering her statements and concluded her peer is an effective communicator.

One of the fundamental skills which 4-H focuses on is public speaking and communications. The goal is to allow youth an opportunity to express their ideas, thoughts and opinions on specific topics of interests to a group of their peers. The 4-H Communications project offers youth a variety of ways to become involved and increase their presentation and speaking skills. The Communications competency is focused on the ability to create, deliver and interpret information effectively through formal and non-formal means.

This includes:

  • Speaking Ability
  • Listening Skills
  • Writing Skills
  • Non-Verbal Skills
  • Information Delivery & Dissemination
  • Marketing and Public Relations
  • Use of Technology

David M. Farrell, Ohio State University, Extension Associate, 4-H Youth Development states:

"Learning to be a good public speaker is something that will be useful throughout a 4-H member's lifetime. Good public speakers are made, not born. The necessary skills associated with being a good public speaker have always been an important part of the 4-H experience and 4-H clubs are encouraged to foster a positive, learning-oriented environment for youth regarding this subject. The degree of a 4-H member's public speaking skills is directly related to his or her leadership and social ability. Members who feel comfortable speaking in front of others have a greater sense of self-confidence, a feeling of respect for themselves and others, and generally have a solid feeling of accomplishment. Good public speakers are more apt to do well in a job interview or a presentation to colleagues at work."

As we look deeper into the word "character" and what it means today we realize the need to provide our youth opportunities to demonstrate and practice their communication skills. Many of our 4-H alumni will attest to this skill set being developed during their 4-H project work.

One of my favorite questions to ask alumni is, "What did you get out of the 4-H program?" The answer I have heard more than any other is that it provided a shy kid the opportunity to talk, demonstrate, present, and facilitate in front of a group. The idea of becoming a leader was not something they had considered before they began their 4-H experience.

If you are a 4-H alumni or someone interested in becoming part of this character building program we'd like to hear from you. Please fill out the alumni survey.