The LIT (Leaders in Training) program at Farm Discovery offers teens an opportunity to develop leadership skills by learning and teaching farming, food preparation, and basic ecology alongside camp participants. The goal of our program is to empower teens to develop the skills necessary to thrive in interpersonal and professional relationships through farming. Leadership training programs are short-term programs intended to help refresh and build on existing leadership skills in order to increase leadership capacity. Youth leadership is a theory of youth development in which young people gain skills and knowledge necessary to lead civic engagement, education reform and community organizing activities (Craney, 2019). Youth leadership programs, like Farm Discovery’s LIT program, aim to provide youth with the education and opportunities to guide others, influence opinions and policy, and become role models for their peers and younger generations.
The benefits and skills gained from participating in youth leadership programs can be used in personal, professional and community based settings. In Hine’s 2017 study of the benefits of leadership programs; students reflected on their personal experiences and noted growth in their self awareness, self confidence, establishing interpersonal skills and a shift in how they perceived their leadership identity. Moving from a leader-centric view to a more relational and collaborative process. While fulfilling a leadership position for an organization, it can also allow a student to gain a better understanding of themselves; setting personal and professional goals, organizing and setting smaller goals to meet their overall goal. This promotes better time management communicating with others when it comes to problem solving and relationship building.
Developing these skills through an organization like Farm Discovery not only allows them to connect with themselves and nature, but the community they serve and the younger generation they are leading as well. Our mission focuses on community engagement and through our youth leadership program, it allows participating youth an opportunity to bring their ideas to the farm to develop, learn and teach. They learn about the developmental stages of the campers they will work with, familiarize themselves with the farm and farm projects, learn group management techniques, and community building games. Through our summer farm camp, our youth leaders learn to use skills that help them in the future, including: time management , collaboration, goal-setting, communication, leading meetings, and making effective presentations; all of which are positive life skills that they will carry into adulthood.
“Working at Farm Discovery as an LIT in June of this year was an amazing experience. I had never worked with kids closely and I think it was a very eye-opening month. It was really nice to be surrounded with so many positive, fun-loving people every single day.t I left with a more accepting and happy outlook than I had before I went to volunteer… I truly feel like I was able to bond with the kids over the course of the month, and getting to see them grow as well as meeting new people was something that I really enjoyed. The experience of being an LIT as a whole was something that I will always remember. I would highly recommend going to Live Earth to anyone who has not; not only is it a very positive environment, but the landscape and farm animals are absolutely lovely.” – Izzy Rodriguez, age 15
Hine, G. (2017) Student perspectives of a leadership program: Benefits and shortcomings. Leading and Managing, 23(1), 77-97.
Craney, A. (2019). Youth Leadership in Fiji and Solomon Islands: Creating Opportunities for Civic Engagement. In H. LEE (Ed.), Pacific Youth: Local and Global Futures (pp. 137–158). ANU Press. http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctvt6rj8x.8