4h Wildlife Stewards Logo

4H Wildlife Stewards
Bringing Science and Nature Together...one school at a time.


By Lisa Albert
4-H Wildlife Steward
OSU Extension Master Gardener

Here are some important lessons I have learned over the years as a 4-H Wildlife Stewards. Some lessons were learned the hard way and some lessons came slowly over time. Hopefully, some of these tips will be helpful to you as a new 4-H Wildlife Steward

  1. Good communication. Find the form that works well for you and your group. Email works really well for me. I have a written copy of communication and I can work at my convenience. Plus it makes me think things out more thoroughly.

  2. Organization. Lay all steps out in advance. In your mind go through the activity and think about what materials you'll need. This helps avoid any "uh-oh" experiences. It helps to have another read your plan to catch anything you missed.

  3. Be flexible with how your team functions. Your team will go through changes. Each time it does, you should discuss the new format, responsibilities and expectations. Make sure all are comfortable with this. My team has gone from each having roughly equal roles to the current team where I am in charge and I delegate. I prefer the team approach but that is not how my current teammate wants to work.

  4. Include on your team someone to help with administrative tasks and material gathering. This person doesn't have to be a trained volunteer but a willing pair of hands of a parent or community member will prove to be a great time-saver and stress-reliever.

  5. Have a list of willing volunteers always handy. The PSO (aka PTO, PTA) will usually be a good source of parent volunteers for you.

  6. Find a willing teacher/curriculum staff member to proof curriculum to make sure it meets necessary benchmarks and is age appropriate and doable, both for grade level and within the time frame.

  7. Make regular reports (either in person or by a delegate) to the PSO (aka PTA, PTO) to gain visibility of the program. This will help when the time comes to ask for funding help or volunteers. Several WS schools issue a regular newsletter to promote their program.

  8. Work from your strengths; draw on the strengths of others.

  9. Don't be afraid to ask for assistance from others in the 4-H Wildlife Stewards program, etc. Know when to say "I don't know" and offer to find out. Learn from others' experiences to save time and avoid repeating their mistakes.

  10. Recognize limitations of self and of program. Don't be afraid to say "no" when proposal is outside the realm of your expertise and responsibilities and outside the scope of the WS program. Ex: X-mas tree farm proposal.

  11. Start small and work towards success before taking on something new. Think long term and draft long-term plan and work towards. Have a wish list so that when opportunity knocks you can save time and move forward quickly. Ex: Eagle scout projects.

  12. Keep activities/programs learning oriented for the kids. Do not make them adult focused and adult engineered. Have faith that kids can accomplish a lot and let them prove it. Give them tasks and guidelines and don't rework what they do (or only very slightly). This will build pride and ownership which is critical to program success and student achievement.

  13. When something unforeseen happens or a setback occurs, be flexible and open-minded. Be creative in your thinking to find a solution. "What can I learn from this?" "What can the kids learn from this?" "How can we avoid this happening in the future?" Turn it into an opportunity if possible.

  14. The more time you spend setting up guidelines and programs initially, the more smoothly everything will proceed. Tedious but makes it easier to hit the ground running the next time. Include in this garden maintenance (weed ID crucial).

  15. KEEP LEARNING AND KEEP FORMING CONNECTIONS. Networking is very beneficial. You never know where the next great idea or opportunity will come from.

4-H Wildlife Stewards, Sunnyside Environmental School, 3421 SE Salmon 1209,
Portland, OR 97214 - 503-916-6074, e-mail: wildifestewards@oregonstate.edu
Copyright 2002-2007. All Rights Reserved.