by Zoë Van Nostrand 

Doctors Charlie Izzo and Debbie Sellers, of the Bronfenbrenner Center on Translational Research, have been collaborating with Primitive Pursuits staff on an innovative field project since January 2016. Their project helps people examine the interaction, connection, and communication that occurs within mentoring or helping relationships.

Charlie’s team has been collecting video recordings of the unique types of interactions that our staff have with students, and then sharing them with us to better define how we at Primitive Pursuits use nature as a tool for human connections. For our staff the value of his project has been in allowing staff to review their “teaching” moments and methods and improve on them.

In Charlie’s words:

“The main purpose of this work is to provide greater insight for practitioners about their own high quality interactions with young people and the role that key types of interactions play in building connections and promoting good social and emotional development. To do this, we are piloting a method that involves capturing video clips of high-quality interactions between youth/family workers and their participants and then replaying these clips to the program team at a series of workshops to facilitate reflective discussion and learning.”

Program Coordinator Sarah Brown notes that for Primitive Pursuits staff, “the ability to watch their interactions with the kids and see spaces where they did well, as well as see areas where they could further develop their interpersonal methods, is an invaluable teaching device.” Charlie plans to expand the Interaction Project to other 4-H programs in Tompkins and Ontario counties over the next two years.