Kentucky launches Youth Social Justice Leadership Board

The COVID-19 pandemic’s stay-at-home orders combined with the murders of BreonnaTaylor and George Floyd left young people feeling isolated with a way to connect with other to process their feelings.In Kentucky, these colliding eventsled 4-H youth development professionals to create Critical Conversations,aprogram that provided anopportunity for youth to engage in meaningful dialogue across multiple platforms. Kentucky 4-H Youth Development launched a virtual platform that was then developed into a statewide medium for a Virtual Jr. MANNRS (Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences) club. The club met monthly to explore topics related to careers, colleges, equity in agriculture and more. Connecting virtually to talk about key issues helped more than 90% of participants feel a sense of belonging and empowered them to make their communities a better place. After the youths expressed an interested in continued involvement, Kentucky 4-H professionals and the University of Kentucky Office of Diversity helped them create the 4-H Social Justice Leadership Board.When young people are supported by caring adults, they feel empowered to effect positive changes to help their communities thrive.

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