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Diversity – Widen the Circle Wednesday!   arrow

The Colorado State University Extension Diversity Catalyst Team (DCT) invites all of Extension to celebrate the way we reach the communities we serve every day, by sharing ideas, stories, and discussion on how we ‘widen the circle’ of community members, participants, advisors, supporters, stakeholders and customers.

Often, ‘diversity work’ is considered an add-on to daily duties, but we know you ‘widen the circle’ every day.  Please read the following examples of Widening the Circle in Colorado Extension, and be sure to email any examples you have in your work (email to

Widen The Circle Wednesday #1

‘How do you Widen the Circle?’

  • In Broomfield County, the 4-H program brings home school and in-school families together in the traditional 4-H Club program.  This way, both groups can learn from the different family and education perspectives, and the youth can interact with each other in a common social setting that does not always exist in school.
  • In Elbert County, we are trying to reach more Family Consumer Science and agriculture-focused families, even though we do not have an agent specifically employed for those programs.  In this effort, we are targeting our marketing efforts toward different groups, like: TANF recipients, business professionals, public service entities, agricultural producers, and more.
  • In Denver County, the Tech Wizards program is connecting youth at a non-traditional school to scientists and passionate volunteers from outside their community to learn about science-related topics.  They share more than just curriculum and activities though, check out this video –
  • We have a leader of the Hmong community in our county on our Extension Advisory Committee. – Anonymous County

Widen The Circle Wednesday #2

‘How do you Widen the Circle?’

  • FLTI in Larimer County started in 2010 with an all white facilitation team. As we conducted the next three trainings, we recruited and (then) provided financial support to bring a more diverse (community) representation to our facilitation team.  Now we have Hispanic, African-American, male, female, and alternative lifestyle represented.
  • In Arapahoe County, we expanded our traditional 4-H programming beyond rural communities, to include youth on Buckley Air Force Base in Embryology, Sewing, Woodworking and Gardening projects.
  • In Extension, interview questions have been added to process which more clearly identify candidates’ diversity experience and commitment.
  • Scholarships for Colorado Master Gardener program applicants allowed a person experiencing homelessness to enroll and participate. – Anonymous County

Widen The Circle Wednesday #3

‘How do you Widen the Circle?’

  • More than two dozen Colorado 4-H Agents took it upon themselves to learn about several cultures and history, during a cultural immersion opportunity in Crested Butte, Colorado, during their association conference.  During the activity, agents learned about how the mountain town came to be, and the cultures that built, maintained and currently live in the town.  Agents met wonderful ‘locals’ who were happy to participate in the learning process. From Nepalese and Himalayan traditions and foods, to historical trivia, and from local foods access to meeting people from different backgrounds–everyone learned something, and the entire town was ecstatic to have our group there. Check with a 4-H agent in your county or area, and ask about how that experience went, or to show you a picture of them at the Third Bowl or Donita’s Cantina!

Widen The Circle Wednesday #4

‘How do you Widen the Circle?’

  • In Boulder County, the ‘Our Lands, Your Hands’ program serves 1200 youth from the Longmont area to hands-on, Ag-related experiences.   One 4-H club based in S.T.E.M. activities is geared toward the Latino community.
  • In Dove Creek, we are implementing S.T.E.M. day camps to introduce technology to students who would not otherwise have access.
  • We paired up with another community agency that was able to provide requested services to developmentally challenged participants, so they could attend and engage in our programs. – Anonymous County

Widen The Circle Wednesday #5

‘How do you Widen the Circle?’

  • In Boulder County we have developed a volunteer-led animal lease program for urban youth, who otherwise would have no means for learning or caring for large livestock.


Widen the circle in Boulder County

  • We have also mentored a volunteer to start our first club in the city of Boulder reaching families from a variety of backgrounds and cultures.
  • In Larimer County, we have enlisted the assistance of an AmeriCorps member to develop a 4-H Science Out-of-School program to reach underserved youth audiences with STEM. So far, we’ve had a robotics class at the Northside Azatlan Center in Fort Collins and taught 130 youth about insects over spring break.
  • Over 40 Front Range Extension staff joined the Western and Peaks and Plains staff by viewing the Widen the Circle – Move Beyond Tolerance training video today.  As part of a larger DCT effort, our statewide extension system can begin to widen the circle using many of the same language and concepts used in the training.

Widen The Circle Wednesday #6

‘How do you Widen the Circle?’

  • We provide cooking, budgeting and nutrition classes with and through a partner organization in Spanish. – Anonymous County
  • In Gilpin and Denver Counties we have created a youth-centered engagement experience where pre-teens from each county teams up with another to traverse, learn about and get a little lost in the mountains and metropolitan areas of the state.  This year’s Mountain 2 Metro Adventure will be a part of the Come Alive Outside Challenge, and include Clear Creek and Broomfield County Youth.
  • One aspect of diversity we address (how we widen the circle) in our county is full-time versus part-time residence. We are targeting some programs of interest to ‘summer only’ residents to increase Extension’s reach. – Anonymous County

Widen The Circle Wednesday #7

‘How do you widen the circle?’

  • Providing food safety class for restaurant workers with translator and handouts (including PowerPoint presentation) helps many in this tourist community. The food safety as well as confidence of the workers is enhanced and the domino effect is that information is shared with those that did not participate.
    -Anonymous community

Widen The Circle Wednesday #8

‘How do you widen the circle?’

  • Tech Wizards sponsors a technical theatre and performing arts program at a school in Denver with 78% English Language Learners.  Imagine trying to teach technical theater concepts without someone who can help interpret!  Students in the class with greater English skills would attempt to interpret for their counterparts but we would often see them shrugging their shoulders due to barriers in their own understanding.  Javier Madrid has become a special mentor through his role modeling and bilingual skills this semester, allowing all students to better understand and engage in this program. Kudos to Javi!

Widen The Circle Wednesday #9

‘How do you widen the circle?’

  • In our county we make accommodations for people who have disabilities so they can participate in our programs, like acquiring an American Sign Language interpreter and a special assistant for participants on the Citizenship Washington Focus trip. – Anonymous County

Widen The Circle Wednesday #10

‘How do you widen the circle?’

·   In our county, the 4-H Sprouts are a blend of 4-H skills and hands-on  activities for Head Start students and families (in one pod module), that uses family interactions to boost student engagement for up to 30 youth who need the program per year.  – Anonymous County

Widen The Circle Wednesday #11

‘How do you widen the circle?’

  • In our county, one youth who lives with a severe disability has joined 4-H. Deb Alpe worked in partnership this youth, to engage and include, and the result was better grades and better social skills in school. – Jackson County
  • There once was a committee for community healthy food that was meant to represent all the community members. Tom Hooten realized there was no one to represent the Ute Mountain community members on the committee. He found a way to include the Ute community and not embarrass the organizers who inadvertently omitted including them.  Total grace!

Widen The Circle Wednesday #12

‘How do you widen the circle?’

  • In our county, we provide and read nutrition/health, human development, and financial information for one half hour, every week, during a section on a statewide radio station for the visually impaired. Visually impaired listeners have access to this program and other programming via internet/phone/audio connection equipment. – Boulder County
  • When providing food/snacks for Extension meetings/programs try to make sure that there are healthy choices/selections, including gluten free items, veggies, etc., so everyone has a chance to be included in the sharing and engagement that happens around food and drink…we also make sure not to have a meeting without dark chocolate….thank goodness dark chocolate is healthier than milk chocolate!!!! – Boulder County

Widen The Circle Wednesday #13

‘How do you widen the circle?’

  • Family Matters is a monthly CSU Extension newsletter that briefly introduces and discusses healthy eating habits, and ways to empower people wanting to improve their body composition (i.e. reduce obesity, ward off disease, improve self awareness).  Family Matters is a peer reviewed, one-page newsletter, written in English and Spanish and has photos that include different types of people, meals and is intended to engage all types of individuals and families.  Family Matters is available on the CSU Extension website for all counties to use and distribute either in hard copy or electronically.  ***Check out (and share) the CSU Extension webpage link to Family Matters….the page provides archived issues in English and Spanish communities can use.

Widen The Circle Wednesday #14

‘How do you widen the circle?’

  • During the spring semester of his internship at the University of Colorado at Denver, Javier Madrid decided to work with the Denver County 4-H program out of the Colorado State University Extension Office in Denver.  As a volunteer candidate, Javier attended an interview, orientation and training.  In first meetings with Javier, it became clear his experience as a Denver 4-H volunteer would be anything but typical.  What follows is Javier’s story of triumph, service and compassion, all in the name of 4-H and Youth Development: Javier’s Story

Widen The Circle Wednesday #15

‘How do you widen the circle?’

  • As a part of a program our Denver Extension Office is involved with, I had the opportunity to teach guitar to a youth group who are also part of a refugee community.  The blank stares and faces made me realize these kids don’t have the cultural background that I have had, growing up in the United States. That day I learned about culture, Thailand, kids, music, refugees, lifestyles and more. I feel very fortunate to have had my circle widened in this way! Check out all of Rusty’s Story.

Widen The Circle Wednesday #16

‘How do you widen the circle?’

  • On Tuesday, May 20, the Adams County Extension Office hosted eight Fellows from South Africa who were part of the Cochran Fellowship Program. They came to our office to learn about what CSU Extension does to strengthen food security by enhancing the agricultural practices of small-scale farmers, and to strengthen the government’s capacity for assisting a large base of small-scale farmers from Thaddeus Gourd and Eric Hammond.  They also learned the impact 4-H on youth from Julia Hurdelbrink and Erin Post.

Adams County hosting eight fellows from South Africa

Widen The Circle Wednesday #17

‘How do you widen the circle?’

  • Our team of nutrition interns has been working hard to share their skills in culturally-relevant ways with a nonprofit organization, Project Worthmore, which serves people transitioning to life in Denver from refugee backgrounds.  One of the projects involves picking up vegetables from Sprout City Farms for a community veggie distribution.  Since some of the vegetables are unfamiliar to people who come from diverse backgrounds, the nutrition interns have devised simple recipe cards and will be preparing the recipes at weekly demonstrations during the distribution.   Feedback from community members was used to develop recipes that can be well-accepted based on cultural preferences and the simplicity of the cards allows English Language Learners to easily understand the recipe. – Denver/Arapahoe Countiesrecipe diagrams

Nutrition intern training

Widen The Circle Wednesday #18

‘How do you widen the circle?’

  • In Arapahoe County, fifteen-year-old 4-H’er Stephen Walton is in it to win it.  He isn’t letting his disability get in the way of his success this year at the Arapahoe County Fair.  Stephen was diagnosed with mild Cerebral Palsy at age 2. He is a little behind his peers developmentally and intellectually. As much as Walton has benefited from 4-H, his peers continue to learn from him too, said CSU-Extension Director, Tim Aston. “Kids who otherwise may not have met someone with special needs are getting to know the person behind the disability by getting to know Stephen,” said Aston. “They are learning compassion, acceptance, inclusion and they can have the opportunity to mentor him.”

Widen The Circle Wednesday #19

‘How do you widen the circle?’

  • Extension continues to support professional development (through funding) and in an effort to be sure we are all widening the circle, PD support requests will now be accompanied by answer(s) the following question within the body of their request:

Widen The Circle Wednesday #20

‘How do you widen the circle?’

  • CSU Denver Extension 4-H Youth Development nutrition interns and ENFEP nutrition educators have been working with the Student Council and a third-grade class at Place Bridge Academy in Denver to share information about nutrition and physical activity.  Place Bridge is a magnet school for elementary-aged refugee students and serves many English Language Learner (ELL) students.  In order to gain cultural competencies and better serve the populations represented at Place Bridge, nutrition interns have received relevant cultural information, attended events in the community, and visited students’ homes with 4-H staff, getting to know family members over a cup of tea or meal.  Through community assessment, and forming partnerships with local agencies that serve refugee/immigrant populations, CSU Denver Extension is striving to engage community members, parents and students to develop community-based, culturally relevant programs.

Widen The Circle Wednesday #21

‘How do you widen the circle?’

  • Mountain 2 Metro AdventureFor the second year, Denver and Gilpin Counties collaborated to offer the 2014 Mountain 2 Metro Adventure to its 4-H youth, this time, with the help of Clear Creek County!  This year’s Adventure included 4-H Youth from not only Denver, Gilpin and Clear Creek, but Larimer and Arapahoe Counties as well.  The Mountain 2 Metro Adventure is an enrichment overnight summer camp where youth from different walks of life have the opportunity to learn about one another, the places they live and the similarities they share. Check out the pictures of the youth during the Tug of Peace on the Pearce Ranch, and OK Corral checkpoint in Gilpin County, and at Denver Health serving Newborns in Need (left)and getting wet at Confluence Park (right).

Mountain 2 Metro Adventure

Mountain 2 Metro Adventure

Mountain 2 Metro Adventure

Mountain 2 Metro Adventure

If you are interested in more information, please contact any of the 4-H staff in the involved counties, and please do take time to read the article written by Patty Unruh.

Widen The Circle Wednesday #22

‘How do you widen the circle?’

  • For the past two years, Weld County 4-H has sponsored a 4-H Tech Wizards Expo during the Weld County Fair.  Thanks to Claire Dixon for the pictures

Widen The Circle Wednesday #23

‘How do you widen the circle?’

  • My family and I went to Berry Patch Farms last weekend to pick some berries and flowers, and we met Tim Ferrell there, who helped us have a great time.  Tim and other local agriculture-interested individuals helped Claudia Meister, highlight the connection between health and Colorado agriculture in a video called ‘Thank A Farmer’.  Often times, farmers go unrecognized for the important impacts their work has on the health of the community. We appreciate their efforts, which not only provide a bounty of flavorful fruits and vegetables, but also include the first steps in keeping fresh produce safe.  Reaching out to a local farmer to say ‘thanks’ is a great way to widen your circle, and you can start by checking out the short video Claudia posted:

Widen The Circle Wednesday #24

‘How do you widen the circle?’

  • As part of the CSU Diversity Symposium, Youth Development Agents Ken Grimes and Robert Franklin delivered the ‘Widen the Circle: Moving Beyond Tolerance’ training to a group comprised of students, administrators, faculty and CSU Alumnus.  Some very telling results came from the presentation (other than folks frustrated at not knowing all of the people/celebrities in the photo association section), and we want to share some of those with you:

*71% of our participants could not readily agree CSU is institutionalizing cultural knowledge.

*While a 2/3 of our participants believe all people connected with CSU and the Ft. Collins community should participate in the Widen the Circle Campaign, 33% of our participants felt it more important CSU students see/connect to the training.

*86% of our participants believe after the training, they will take back to their job/community an understanding of heritage, and work toward valuing the heritage of others.

While we were very pleased to deliver the training, opportunities abound when considering the University community and Widening the Circle.

Widen The Circle Wednesday #25

‘How do you widen the circle?’

  • In our county, the Youth Foundation hosted the 2nd Annual Family Connect event on September 14, 2014.  This free family resource fair provided an opportunity for agencies to host activities, arts and crafts and developmental screenings for both English and Spanish speaking families.  CSU Extension was represented by all three Extension Agents.  Family & Consumer Science Extension Agent, Glenda Wentworth exhibited the “Rethink Your Drink” display which showed how much sugar is in a variety of sugar sweetened beverages; encouraging families to offer water, low-fat milk, or 100% juice as the beverage of choice.  Jeff Pieper, Horticulture Agent, featured a “Roly-Poly” race.  All ages enjoyed watching the Roly-Polies crawl off of the race track.  Finally, Jenny Leonetti, 4-H Youth Development Agent conducted “Grass Heads” for youth to create to demonstrate the various 4-H projects available. This event reached 49 participants.  It was a great event to connect with Spanish speaking families.  Not only were we able to reach members of our community, we were also able to network with other agencies.  – Eagle County

Widen The Circle Wednesday #26

‘How do you widen the circle?’

  • The La Plata County 4-H Youth Development program “Widened our Circle”, by developing the “4-H Giving Back Garden”.  This garden was a collaboration with Ft. Lewis College – Old Fort Incubator Plot Farm program, Southwest Conservation Corps and the USDA Commodity Food Distribution.  The garden has had an amazing harvest season.  The whole project was entered into the “Come Alive Outside Challenge”, sponsored by JP Horizons and John Deere – which encourages youth and communities to engage in more activities outside.  Please read more about our project here, and then watch our video! – (you will need a Facebook login to view, and vote)

Widen The Circle Wednesday #27

‘How do you widen the circle?’

  • This campaign has elicited sharing from outside of Extension.  As such, several folks on Campus shared: as a result of participating in the Widening the Circle: Moving Beyond Tolerance training:
    • I am willing to talk with others about inclusion and mostly to be aware of my own circle(s) and how to open it (them) to others. – CSU Financial Aid Counselor
    • I am widening the circle (on campus) through slam poetry performance and talking about all the (diverse) topics…and inviting others to come and watch or perform their own stories. – CSU Freshman
    • I can now develop many different relationships with a variety of people. – CSU Freshman & LDC member
    • I will remember to stay conscious of what stereotypes/assumptions I make both on and off campus. – CSU Accounting Staff

Widen The Circle Wednesday #28

‘How do you Widen the Circle?’

Often, popular culture influences the way we move about the world.  Sometimes, popular culture can impact work in our community, and those inside and outside our circles.  After being inspired by the a story of 4-H Youth Director, Jeff Goodwin, widening the circle in a very personal way, the Denver County Extension Office participated in a group facilitated discussion after viewing part of the movie, The Butler.

The questions, comments and discussion that ensued after watching the movie prompts this challenge:

  • In your office or county, take time to watch the movie, The Butler, together and take time to discuss these thoughts:
    • What themes are playing out in this scene/movie?
      • This question may seem obvious, but as we all know, perception differs person to person, so this is a great introductory question.
    • How historically accurate are the events in the scene/movie?
      • While there are many answers to this question, everyone remembers historical events differently, especially as time passes on.
    • Are there present-day examples of the way the characters in the scene/movie interact?
      • While this question is pretty straightforward, the way we view conversations and relationships between other people is a reflection of our own connections with others.
    • What is important for me/you/us to know and remember about what is happening in the scene/movie after today?
  • Here are a couple of clips to start with… (don’t watch them by yourself!)
  • After watching the movie, and having an open and honest conversation, email so we can add your story to the Widening the Circle Campaign.
  • In Denver County, participants said they: now have a larger respect for the people they work with; appreciated how the movie allowed for honest conversation about perceptions; now have an idea of some type of work they need to do in their community to widen the circle; believe the impact of the conversation will have a greater impact on our entire client base.

Widen The Circle Wednesday #29

‘How do you widen the circle?’

Community garden

  • Each spring and summer, a group of Denver Master Gardeners provide on-site landscape training at the Colorado Governor’s Residence on Capitol Hill in Denver for a small group of participants in the Jefferson County Recovery Court Program.  Each week, Master Gardeners lead a one hour hands-on workshop about basic horticulture practices.   In turn, the participants complete their required community service by performing landscape maintenance services on the grounds of the mansion.  The participants in the Recovery Court Program are non-violent offenders who have had issues with substance abuse, and are working toward bettering their lives.  The Master Gardeners involved with the program have said that it is inspiring to see these young adults persevere to turn their lives around.  Several participants have gone on to pursue landscaping jobs in the community.  Check out the work done by the participants and Master Gardeners (right).

Call for more…

We are sure you ‘Widen the Circle’ of community members you serve all the time. Please take a moment to reflect on a moment you ‘Widened the Circle’ and send it to, along with a picture (if applicable), so we can share it in a Widen the Circle Wednesday email like the ones you just read!