Creating Community Through Cohort Learning: A Training Model for Youth Development Professionals


  • Amber Shanahan University of Minnesota Extension, Center for Youth Development
  • Trisha Sheehan University of Minnesota Extension, Center for Youth Development



cohorts, action learning, onboarding, staff development


University of Minnesota Extension Center for Youth Development (CYD) initiated a learning cohort for their local youth development professionals, 4-H Extension educators (EEs) to fulfill a need to better support staff beyond onboarding. The Youth Development Learn and Lead (YDLL) cohort is grounded in integrative leadership that influences professional relationship building through the sharing of applicable skills and theory across hierarchical boundaries while providing a community of practice to discuss ideas and share resources. The cohort has positively impacted employee engagement and has shown impressive results around networking, relationship building, and learning objectives. The YDLL cohort has been deemed an essential training by CYD, and has been replicated internally to encompass a larger audience with unique staff development needs.

Author Biography

Amber Shanahan, University of Minnesota Extension, Center for Youth Development

Extension Center for Youth Developemtn; Assistant Extension Professor

Amber Shanahan has been with Extension Youth Development since 2012. Her research is focused on staff development within a youth development context through the development, delivery and evaluation of cohort training models that support staff. She shares YD supervisory and leadership research and best practices through the Leadership Matters course. She also leads the 4-H Youth Teaching Youth program, developing cross-age teaching programs and curricula that support social and emotional learning. 


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