Welcoming Latino youth to California 4-H!
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The University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) invested close to $2,000,000 over a period of three years to welcome Latino youth, families and volunteers to 4-H. The counties selected to participate in the pilot program encompass rural, suburban, and urban areas and include: Sonoma, Santa Barbara, Kern, Orange, Riverside, Monterey, and Merced. The objective of the pilot, called UC ANR 4-H Latino Initiative, is to develop, deliver, and assess culturally responsive program models to attract and retain Latino youth, families, and volunteers into 4-H. Seven 4-H Program Representatives (equivalent to Extension Educators in other states) were hired to work under the supervision of the county-based Advisors and the Assistant Director for 4-H Diversity and Expansion. This effort faced challenges and opportunities while designing the job description and conducting the selection process to ensure success of the program, even though research and promising practices from the literature were used to develop the position description and identify the qualifications of successful hires. This article shares the challenges, opportunities, and successful strategies used. Hiring staff with strong cultural capacities and positioning them in key roles is critical to building a cultural competent organization and addressing structural discrimination.