Working with young people is important business.
The UACE helps organizations make a difference in the lives of children through its youth development programs. These programs equip organizations with strategies for providing the best possible growth experiences for Arizona’s young people.
The Phoenix zoo is one of many Arizona organizations that have benefited from UACE youth development training programs. These programs improve the youth development skills of employees who work in after-school and recreation programs including 4-H, Scouting, and homeless shelters.
The zoo strengthened its already flourishing youth programs after five zoo employees underwent the nine-month UACE professional development training. “We learned some really important fundamentals,’’ said Ruth Allard, executive vice president for conservation and zoo experiences.
The goal is to help organizations create high-quality programs that promote the development of young people, said Lynne Borden, Family and Consumer Sciences Cooperative Extension faculty.
Allard said the zoo, which educates hundreds of thousands of kids each year, was already doing many things right. But the UACE program taught them to keep the focus on their intentions, with all actions aimed at creating an environment where children thrive.
Allard learned about the importance of intentionality from Borden. “Through masterful teaching, Dr. Borden explained the need for intentionality. With everything we do, we ask ourselves, ‘what is our intention, what do we want to accomplish and are we going about it in the best possible way?’ ”
Networking with other organizations during training was also invaluable, Allard added. Armed with additional tips and tools, the zoo created a new handbook and training for employees working with teen volunteers.
“It helps us follow best practices and lets us be part of something significant in these kids’ lives,’’ Allard said.