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A sense of belonging (11/29/2017)

We all want it, right – that feeling of security that comes from a smile and encouraging word from a co-worker, peer or leader of a group we’re a part of.  A sense of belonging is a basic need of all people, no matter their age, background or orientation, and we have a responsibility to deliver on this with our co-workers, peers and program participants. It’s not just the right thing to do, it’s an expectation of all NDSU employees and county support staff.

The Extension Diversity Council and Deb Gebeke have been working with Dr. Katherine Soule, national 4-H experts and NDSU Equity Office personnel on training that can help all of us be better at creating a sense of belonging for others, especially those of the LGBTQ+ communities. Dr. Soule, a University of California Extension professional who has done extensive research in supporting individuals who identify as members of the LGBTQ+ communities, has insightful information to share with us. All Extension employees will receive an email from Deb and the Diversity Council soon about online training and Q/A sessions with Dr. Soule. Please take note of the materials and plan to participate. Because this subject is especially critical in our work with 4-H youth, I ask each county office to sit down together as a staff to discuss the materials and brainstorm ways in which they can collectively make their programs a safe and judgement-free place for youth.

I thank Deb and the Extension Diversity Council (Cindy Dunn, Randy Grueneich, Vanessa Hoines, Trisha Jessen, Naeem Kalwar, Randy Mehlhoff, Megan Ness Ditterick, Todd Weinmann and Ron Wiederholt) for their work on this and additional trainings in the future.

Chris Boerboom, Director

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