Extension Council Youth Leadership
The Extension Council Youth Leadership (ECYL) Program supports County Extension Councils in diversifying their membership to include youth and young adults on councils.
The goals of the program are to:
- Support Extension councils in engaging youth, ages 14-17, in non-voting capacities (voting members must be at least 18 years old by Missouri State Statutes);
- Support Extension councils in engaging more young adults, ages 18-25, in voting positions; and
- Integrate youth-young adult participation into ongoing council leadership development.
Through ECYL, councils gain fresh ideas, new energy, and generational insights from youth and young adults. Having young people serve on councils leads to enhanced dialogue and decision-making, and increases council linkages to other youth and adults in the community.
ECYL was developed in response to a statewide survey of Extension councils, showing council leaders were seeking support with expanding the involvement of younger generations on councils.
Training materials were developed to assist council leaders with seeing councils as youth-adult partnerships, modifying bylaws, adding youth and young adult members, and supporting and recognizing new members.
ECYL works with councils to track youth/young adult membership, orient new members, connect them with leadership development opportunities, and recognize youth/young adults for service to their counties.
Over 40 Extension councils have participated in the program since 2005.
Counties have welcomed new voices to the table and cultivated community and civic leaders for the future. Councils report more diverse membership, enhanced dialogue on community issues, and improved relations between youth and adults in the community. Some counties report that youth members have catalyzed councils to take action.
Youth and young adult members report stronger connections to MU Extension and aspirations to continue serving in the future.