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YFE Week: Brian Hubbard on Strengthening Youth Participatory Evaluations

Hello fellow evaluators! My name is Brian Hubbard and I am an administrator and youth worker who created and continues to work directly with a youth council from the Conservation Corps.  I have seen the benefits of working with and alongside youth engaging in participatory evaluation.

The Conservation Corps is a non-profit organization that provides hands-on environmental stewardship and service learning opportunities to youth and young adults while accomplishing energy conservation, natural resource management, and emergency response work. There are a total of seven alumni on the Youth Council from the Conservation Corps youth programs, 15-25 years old, from diverse locations in Minnesota. Two participants are deaf and three are English Language Learners (ELL).

Hot Tip: Conservation Corps Youth Council members created an interview protocol with current youth program participants, youth workers, staff members and the board of directors that focused on their perceptions and experiences of what happens before, during and after a Conservation Corps youth program. For example, Council members interviewed youth program participants, on their first day of the program, during the program, in the final closing week and one month after their participation.

Rad Resource: This project was inspired by the Conservation Corps Youth Council’s participation in activities from Kim Sabo Flores book Youth Participatory Evaluation: Strategies for Engaging Young People. More specifically are the before, during and after activities featured in Kim’s AEA 365, June 30th, 2010 blog post in the Rad Resource section.

Hot Tip: Increase reflective dialogue! As a result of the interviews this project has increased reflective dialogue within the Conservation Corps youth programs. For example, Conservation Corps Youth Council members have been invited to present their findings at staff meetings. Youth workers have the opportunity to hear and ask questions related to data gathered by Council members from their interviews with Conservation Corps youth participants. In addition, Members of the Council have published articles and video representations of their findings on the Conservation Corps website.

Lessons Learned: Find partners! It is very helpful to find organizations that can help in training youth in video production. Recently the Conservation Corps Youth Council members have attended trainings in video production with the Saint Paul Neighborhood Network (SPNN). The Conservation Corps Youth Council has also partnered with SPNN to produce a promotional video about the Conservation Corps youth programs that will be featured on the Sprockets Program Finder, a website that helps youth and families connect with after-school programming.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Youth Focused Evaluation (YFE) TIG Week with our colleagues in the YFE Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our YFE TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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