Extension Council Youth Leadership

The Extension Council Youth Leadership (ECYL) module is a seven-part training for Extension councils seeking to formalize a role for young people on the council.  Training topics include the benefits of councils partnering with young people, exploring assets of various generations, planning for youth involvement, revising bylaws, recruiting and selecting youth to serve, and supporting youth members through adult mentorship.  Councils completing the module will emerge with an action plan for expanding youth and/or young adult involvement.

The module is designed to be a fun and interactive planning process, which councils can complete at a weekend retreat, in two evening sessions, or at monthly meetings over several months.  Module activities are designed for a mixed group of adults and young people who councils invite to join in the process.  A county program director, council chair, or combination of staff and members may facilitate module sessions. 

Training topics

Topic 1: County extension councils are youth-adult partnerships

This topic introduces councils to youth-adult partnerships and stimulates discussion on the benefits for youth, adults, and councils.

Topic 2: Understanding and working with multiple generations

This topic explores generational differences and stereotypes, and how councils can tap the assets of the various age groups around the table.

Topic 3: Creating youth non-voting representative roles and expectations

This topic walks through the nuts and bolts of formalizing a role for youth on councils, including bylaws revisions and job description for youth representatives.

Topic 4: Recruiting and selecting youth representatives

This topic digs into the motivations that young people have for serving on a board, and how councils can find and choose young people to serve.

Topic 5: Engaging young adults in voting positions

This topic examines the motivations and roadblocks young adults face in serving on a board, and how councils can engage prospective members. 

Topic 6: Mentoring and retaining youth and young adults

This topic identifies what youth and adults need in order to make mentoring partnerships successful.

Topic 7: Planning for councils as youth-adult partnerships

This topic wraps up the module by compiling council discussions and action steps into an action plan.


Information in this module is used with permission from:

Authors and contributors


  • Steve Henness, Project Coordinator, 4-H Center for Youth Development
  • Tony Delong, County Extension Council Coordinator
  • Leanna Baumer, Youth Project Coordinator
  • Melissa Scheer, MU Graduate Student

Steering Committee

  • Bud Reber, East Central Region Director, University of Missouri Extension
  • Ina Linville, Program Leader, 4-H Youth Development
  • L. Jo Turner, Interim Vice Provost, University of Missouri Extension
  • Bev Coberly, Program Director, Off-Campus Relations
  • Sam Hawkins, Chair, Missouri State Extension Council


  • Sherri Kempf, Cooper County Extension Council
  • Deanna Crocker, Boone County Extension Council

Module Development

  • Jana Thies, MU Graduate Student

2011 Module updates

  • Steve Henness, Project Coordinator, 4-H Center for Youth Development
  • Mary Jo Moncheski, MU Graduate Student
  • Leah Stotts, MU Student/ State 4-H Council

Special thanks

  • National 4-H Council and Surdna Foundation
  • Missouri 4-H Foundation
  • Carole MacNeil, National 4-H Youth in Governance Initiative
  • Shep Zeldin, Dept. of Child and Family Studies, UW-Madison