Growing Together is the title of the 2017 4-H Professional Research, Knowledge, and Competencies (PRKC) framework which provides a roadmap for us as 4-H youth development professionals. The PRKC framework uses a four-level taxonomy including domains, topics, components, and competencies to help us in every aspect of our work – from program planning and evaluation to volunteer development, and from diversity training to organizational effectiveness. The framework also offers guidance on the essential subject matter and competencies that identify the skills and behaviors we need to be effective youth development professionals. The 4-H PRKC is designed around the following six domains:
- Youth Development – utilizing the knowledge of the human growth and development process to create environments that help youth reach their full potential
- Youth Program Development – planning, implementing, and evaluating programs that achieve youth development outcomes
- Volunteerism – building and maintaining a volunteer program management system for the delivery of youth development programs
- Access, Equity, and Opportunity – interacting effectively and equitably with individuals and building long-term relationships with diverse communities
- Partnerships – engaging youth in community development and engaging the broader community in youth development
- Organizational Systems – using systems effectively to build capacity of the organization and its people to work with and on behalf of young people
Matrix of Topics under each Domain (not shown in this chart are the components and competencies for each topic)
Using the PRKC
It is important for us to take charge of our own career development. The PRKC can support us in getting better at our current jobs and help prepare us for future career opportunities. Having a goal in mind makes selecting professional development experiences and competencies more useful. It is not expected that every one of us will be highly effective in implementing every competency. Rather the framework is part of a professional development process that is accompanied by a self-assessment tool. By periodically completing the self-assessment we can identify areas we would like to further develop and/or strengths where we would like to become experts.
The assessment tool is an effective resource to use with our supervisors when developing our annual professional development plans. Remember, intentionally choosing professional development resources to help improve competencies is the intended outcome of our development plans. There is a wealth of knowledge and information available to us. It is important to use the PRKC as a guide while sifting through all the potential resources. Once useful resources are identified, it is important to actively engage in the experience. Setting goals is only part of development; we also have to give our very best effort to reach those goals.
It is important for 4-H program leadership to help in the implementation of relevant professional development, to create a culture of focused growth experiences, and to provide a variety of resources. Resources may include, but not be limited to, financial considerations. In fact, having all of the 4-H professionals within a state or who are part of a specific team complete the self-assessment, is a great way to identify the collective training needs of a group. While it is not recommended to use the assessment tool as part of a performance review, it can be helpful in planning intentional professional development strategies on a statewide or regional level. Be creative in what is provided for professionals to learn.
The hiring process is another option for using the PRKC. The six domains are the basic areas relevant to most 4-H professionals. Job descriptions and interview questions that reflect the PRKC can be instrumental in identifying people who will be effective right from the start.
We cannot thank the National 4-H Professional Development Committee enough for their work in the review and revision of the 2017 PRKC. These committee members feel strongly that the framework provides a relevant path forward for intentional professional development – here at 4-H National Headquarters, we couldn’t agree with them more. This committee is now working toward identifying and/or developing additional tools beyond the framework and self-assessment. Once available, these tools will help identify specific professional development resources related to each of the PRKC domains. Professional development planning templates are also being considered. In the meantime, the committee and Headquarters challenge you to grow together and provide the best positive youth development program experiences for all of our nation’s youth.
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