4-H Adulting 101 workshop series gives Lane County youths valuable life skills

Oregon State University Extension’s 4-H Youth Development Program in Lane County had been receiving requests for more programs that offered youths readiness skills that schools don’t always have time for. With schools having the pressure of standardized testing and academic goals, 4-H in Lane County wanted to offer classes that complemented schools and offered more life skills for teens.

In response, Elizabeth Gangwer, 4-H outreach program coordinator in Lane County, created Adulting 101: A Life Skills Series. This workshop series is designed for teens to gain life skills to take into their post-high school journeys. Sessions include:

  • Career readiness and goal setting.
  • Self-defense.
  • Budgeting basics.
  • CPR and first aid training.
  • Mental health care and wellness.
  • Emergency preparedness.
  • Cooking basics.
  • Car basics.
  • Food preservation basics.

Many of these workshops were taught by local volunteers, such as Extension Master Food Preservers and local martial arts instructors. CPR Works provided CPR and first aid classes. The workshop series goal was to provide a safe space for teens to learn about “adulting” and talk about stresses and fears surrounding getting older.

In addition to attending these sessions, teens got to take home tools and resources to continue the best practices that these sessions covered. The items included: planners, yoga mats and guided mindfulness journals, cutting boards and recipes, car emergency kits and certificates in CPR first aid and self-defense.

The Adulting 101 program had 17 teens sign-up and 14 attended all the sessions in 2023. In 2024, 22 signed up with 16-20 attending each session. Over 60% of teens that attended both rounds of Adulting 101 weren’t 4-H members, allowing general community members to be exposed to Lane County 4-H and OSU Extension Service. This was the most-attended non-club Lane County program since the COVID-19 pandemic started.

As a result of the series, feedback from Adulting 101 has been extremely positive. Youths, parents and community partners have all spoken highly of the lasting impacts this series on the teens who attended. At each session, teens expressed that they gained a new skill that they were excited to implement in their life as they continue toward adulthood. Parents and teens expressed interest in returning for more sessions, either new topics or continued topics with further depth. Lane County 4-H hopes to continue this program with the support of the Oregon 4-H Foundation, and in the future the program could expand to other counties.

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