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  1. Collaboration Profiles
  2. USDA and the Military: Positive Youth Development
  3. USDA and the Military Support Youth through Positive Youth Development

USDA and the Military Support Youth through Positive Youth Development

Lessons Learned

Read more about the lessons that the USDA, NIFA, and the military have learned while working collaboratively.

Goals and plans must be reevaluated to keep up with a changing environment

While the mission of the collaboration has remained consistent for more than 25 years, the collaboration partners are actively working to ensure that the guidance that drives their work is relevant and effective in an environment that is continuously changing as a result of political shifts, changes in the availability of funds, and internal staff transitions as many of the individuals who were in-seat at the inception of the collaboration retire. 4-H Military Liaisons are currently working to develop a youth logic model and strategic plan that will help guide the vision of 4-H and the Extension partnership in working with youth from military-connected families. Collaboration members will be involved in this work as it moves forward. Many of the individuals who were in-seat at the inception of the collaboration are now retiring, while partners are analyzing the current leadership structure to make sure that it still fits the needs of the work. From years of experience, the collaboration acknowledges these kinds of shifts and self-reflection are necessary for progress.

See promising practices for more information on the importance of collecting and sharing data among partners.

Understanding the needs of the population is key

Members of the armed forces and their families are a dynamic population facing a unique set of challenges. The issues faced by military families are often out of their control and shaped by national and global events or changes in administration. Collaboration partners have developed an understanding of the necessity of keeping track of the changing needs and challenges of military-connected youth and their families in order to make sure services, programs, and research are targeted and effective.

This update of services is evident in the evolution of the collaboration’s programs throughout the years. Most recently, partners have been focusing on the issue of reintegration, as many service members who were previously deployed return home. The Army is currently conducting an ongoing study to gather data on reintegration, which will inform programming and services to families and service members moving forward. The evolution of the collaboration’s work is equally dependent on information coming from those working directly with families in the field, as well as staff focused on the latest youth development research.

See promising practices for more information on using partner expertise to strengthen the research base of programming and services.