FOR NEW 4-H WILDLIFE STEWARDS
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
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- Have a list of willing
volunteers always handy. The PSO (aka PTO, PTA) will usually be a
good source of parent volunteers for you.
- 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.
- 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.
- Work from your strengths;
draw on the strengths of others.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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
- 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).
- KEEP LEARNING AND KEEP
FORMING CONNECTIONS. Networking is very beneficial. You never know
where the next great idea or opportunity will come from.