Extension and Ag Research News


NDSU’s Building Connections Program Honored

NDSU Extension’s Building Connections program receives national recognition.

The North Dakota State University Extension Service has received a certificate of commendation for Building Connections, its project to strengthen families and increase positive youth development at Home on the Range and on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation.

Standing Rock, in south central North Dakota, and Home on the Range, a residential child-care facility in Sentinel Butte for youth ages 10-18, also received a certificate of commendation.

The awards were presented during this spring’s Children, Youth and Families at Risk (CYFAR) conference in San Antonio, Texas.

Federal funding through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service helps support the project.

Building Connections provides 4-H activities for youth at Home on the Range and educational newsletters for their parents. At Standing Rock, the project provides parent education and 4-H programming.

The youth component of the project is designed to increase youths’ sense of positive identity, improve their self-esteem, help them deal with their emotions and problems in their lives, and increase their social skills and behaviors so they develop positive relationships with others.

The project helps parents at Standing Rock increase their knowledge of child development, enhance their parenting skills and increase healthy living habits, such as a nutritious diet and exercise. In addition, Building Connections helps them foster a sense of cultural identity as a parent.

Youth participating in the program report they’ve learned new skills, such as how to work as a team, have more patience, think through their problems, manage feelings of anger, deal with stress, stay calm and get along with family members.

Parents say the program taught them some positive ways to help their children behave better and improved their understanding of how they can help their children develop. Parents say they’ve also learned more patience, they are more aware of their children’s needs and they’ve become more involved in their children’s lives.

“Strengthening family relationships and promoting positive development for youth help to counteract some of the negative risk factors that youth and families may face,” says Sean Brotherson, NDSU Extension family science specialist and project director. “This commendation recognizes the tremendous effort of those who have been involved in our work with youth and parents, as well as highlighting the positive impacts that have occurred for youth and families through the Building Connections CYFAR project.”

Others from the NDSU Extension Service who are involved in the program are Kathleen Schmaltz, project co-director and Extension’s Region VII Parenting Resource Center coordinator; Deb Theurer, Home on the Range site coordinator and Extension’s West Dakota Parent and Family Resource Center parenting resource coordinator; Sharon Kickertz-Gerbig, county Extension agent for Stark and Billings counties; Sue Isbell, Standing Rock site coordinator and county Extension agent in Sioux County; Gerald Sturn, NDSU Extension southwest district director; and Brenda Jacobsen, graduate student.

More than 600 youth and adults from Standing Rock have participated in the project. At Home on the Range, about 80 youths and their families take part in the project each year.

NDSU Agriculture Communication

Source:Sean Brotherson, (701) 231-6143, sean.brotherson@ndsu.edu
Editor:Ellen Crawford, (701) 231-5391, ellen.crawford@ndsu.edu
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