|Dear 4-H Youth Development Family,
Our hearts are hurting, and the continued heaviness and grief cannot be ignored. It is important to acknowledge the recent tragic deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery. The systemic and continual racism in our country have led to justifiable anger, sadness, and worry both individually and collectively. It is time to listen; it is time to change.
Diversity, equity and inclusion are foundational to the 4-H Youth Development Program. We do not condone racism, bigotry, violence, or hatred. We focus on positive youth development and the 4-H essential elements of belonging, mastery, independence and generosity. We want to make sure that ALL youth have the opportunity to thrive and not live in fear.
As a youth development organization, and specifically, as an organization within Washington State University, we have a unique opportunity to address systemic and societal problems that plague the people across our nation. Now more than ever, we need to focus on the social and emotional development of our youth and commit to doing the work of listening, learning and growing together.
What is critical at this time is believing in equality and showing respect, caring, and kindness. Many of us are struggling on how best to respond to these tragic events, but it is necessary. We all need to educate ourselves and be able to have conversations with our youth, so they understand why this change needs to happen.
Here are a few resources to help you get started on your journey of equity and racial justice.
Making progress and achieving equity and racial justice requires all of us, listening, working and standing together.
Nancy C. Deringer, PhD
4-H Youth Development State Program Leader
As the Washington State University 4-H Youth Development organization, here are some of the steps we are taking:
- National 4-H Council has created an Equity Toolkit to share resources on topics related to diversity, inclusion, and equity. These tools will provide you with an opportunity to foster greater discussion and learning around cultural competences. https://access-equity-belonging.extension.org/resources/national-4-h-council-equity-toolkit/
- Washington State University Extension 4-H Youth Development will provide professional development opportunities from speakers and educators who are as diverse and inclusive as the communities that we serve.
- Beginning in July, WSU Extension will host a number of reading and discussion groups to help volunteers, staff and faculty come to a deeper understanding of what equity is and how racism continues to exist. These reading groups will be hosted regionally and will include people who live and work close to you. As a general rule, the reading series will last one month, and meet once a week by zoom to review and discuss seminal readings concerned with equity.