Astroth has more than thirty years of experience working with young people. A former school teacher, camp counselor, and 4-H specialist in three states, Astroth has a passion for "making the best better." Astroth helped re-start 4-H programs in Latvia and Lithuania after the collapse of the Soviet Union, has published extensively on the critical elements of positive youth development, vibrant youth groups, and youth development scholarship; and has served as chairman of the Montana Children's Trust Fund for six years. Astroth has also served as president of the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents and the Joint Council of Extension Professionals.
Afterschool has proven to be one of the most important and seminal times in a young person's life. I am excited to be joining the NAA board of directors at this time so that I can advocate for support of afterschool programming, help strengthen professional development for afterschool providers, and continue to improve the quality, quantity and affordability of afterschool programs throughout the country," Astroth said.
Dr. Dale Blyth provides leadership for applied research in youth development, focusing on understanding whether and how the field makes measurable differences in the quality, availability, and impact of non-formal community learning opportunities. Blyth also uses his diverse background in university, non-profit, and policy work to connect practitioners, researchers, funders, and policy makers to improve the generation and use of research in youth development. He is currently examining new pathways to improve the impact of youth programs through aligning different types of data and accountability.
From 1998 to 2011, Blyth served as the associate dean for Youth Development and the director of the Extension Center for Youth Development, where he helped create the Youth Work Institute that reached more than 4000 youth workers with exceptional non-credit educational experiences and a series of symposia and webinars that bridged research, practice, programs, policy, and public understanding. In 2004-2005, Blyth served as chief of staff for the university president's Minnesota Commission on Out of School Time and its report "Journeys into Community: Transforming Youth Opportunities for Learning and Development." Blyth helped found and support the bipartisan, bicameral Children and Youth Legislative Caucus, served as the founding executive secretary for the Society for Research on Adolescence for ten years, and is also a founding member of the national Next Generation Youth Work Coalition. Blyth has helped start several journals in the field and served on multiple editorial boards including New Directions for Youth Development, Journal of Research on Adolescence, Journal of Youth development, Journal of early Adolescence, and Applied Developmental Science.
"The opportunities and experiences children youth have during the afterschool and summer hours are increasingly critical to their healthy development and success. I believe NAA has a critical role to play in supporting these opportunities, and especially in supporting and challenging the talented and dedicated professionals who make them possible. Joining the board is an exciting opportunity to work with NAA to help bridge research and practice and shape policy and practices that improve the lives of our young people," Blyth said.
"We are fortunate to have two well-respected leaders joining our Board," said NAA Executive Director, Gina Warner. "The experience, expertise and connections of both Kirk and Dale will allow NAA to continue our work to improve the practice of -- and increase the professionalism of -- the field of afterschool."
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Click here to read an article by Dr. Blyth that provides thoughtful and insightful answers about the some of the hottest topics in out-of-school time.