December 2001 // Volume 39 // Number 6 // Tools of the Trade // 6TOT3

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"Booster Shots" for Post-In-Service Learning

A technique to reinforce learning and encourage program application after an in-service training was developed in Pennsylvania. Monthly "booster shots" are sent electronically to participants to highlight a resource or reinforce a concept from the in-service. This stimulates application of information in local educational programming. Response to the boosters has remained positive for over a year after the in-service.

Claudia C. Mincemoyer
Assistant Professor, Agricultural and Extension Education
Penn State University
Internet Address:

Daniel F. Perkins
Associate Professor, Agricultural and Extension Education
Penn State University
Internet Address:

"I wish I had more time to reflect on what I learned and to explore available resources for my Extension program."

This was a familiar evaluative statement by youth and family educators following a 2-day in-service on community youth development. During the in-service, educators were given a "youth development toolkit" consisting of over 15 resources such as books, activities, and teaching outlines for use in local educational programming. After the in-service, participants developed an action plan to indicate how they planned to use the information and resources obtained from the in-service. A clear pattern that emerged from the action plans was the need to take the necessary time to explore the toolkit resources (Mincemoyer & Perkins, 2001).

The authors have met the need in what has proven to be a successful way. Monthly, they e-mail a "booster shot" to the participants from the in-service training. With an applied focus, the authors highlight a useful idea or reference from one of the resources in the toolkit. This idea or reference is the "booster" for the educators. It is designed to prompt them to examine the resource, to think about ways to use it, and to remind them to take time to reflect on what they learned.

Over 16 booster shots have been sent, receiving positive feedback from the recipients. After a year, the authors surveyed the youth and family educators to examine the perceptions of the booster's usefulness. Out of the 26 educators who replied, an overwhelming majority (85%) responded positively and requested that the booster continue. Below are two sample "booster shots."

Booster #1:  Making Headlines

Looking for a way to add creativity to a leader training workshop or a teen leader retreat?  Read on . . .

"Headlines" (p.49) in Working Together: 55 Team Games (Ukens, 1997) is a unique way to have small groups report back on a topic related to the training. Each group is asked to create three headlines that portray three distinct concepts related to the training. Each group presents their headlines to the rest of the participants and explains the intent of the message. A headlines worksheet is included. Explore the rest of the book, and you will find lots of games and teaching techniques to use in your educational workshops with both volunteers and youth.

Booster #2:  Reaching Hard-to-Reach Kids

Check out Building Assets for Hard-to-Reach Kids (Handout 60) of the resource entitled Pass it On: Ready to use handouts for asset builders (Griffin-Wiesner, 1999). This handout suggests that there are two major tasks we need to perform when trying to engage hard-to-reach kids. First, we need to go out to them; we cannot wait for them to come to us. Second, we need to create asset-building opportunities and relationships. The handout presents tips on accomplishing these two tasks. Over the next month, promise yourself that you will try a new technique to reach out.


A significant amount of resources were devoted to providing both the training and the "toolkits" to in-service participants. Contact with participants following the in-service to support and assist them in the application of concepts allows for additional learning at no cost and increases the likelihood that the resources are used. More important, youth development concepts are reinforced long after the training is over.

Reinforcing learning with "boosters" after an in-service also conveys a message to participants that their work is important and that they have support at the state level. Booster shots are easy to implement and a concept that can be used regardless of the in-service or training topic.


Griffin-Wiesner, J. (1999). Pass it on: Ready to use asset handouts for asset builders. Minneapolis, MN:  Search Institute.

Mincemoyer, C., & Perkins, D. (2001). Building your youth development toolkit: A community youth development orientation for Pennsylvania 4-H/Youth programs. Journal of Extension [On-line], Available at:

Ukens, L. (1997). Working together, 55 team games. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass/Pfeiffer.