In Real Life Blog Series: Strengthening Cultural Ties through Mentoring

Donna Ennis, Fond du Lac 4-H Tribal Youth Mentor Program
June 29th, 2016
Posted In: In Real Life

Research confirms that quality mentoring relationships can have powerful positive effects on youth in a variety of ways. This June, we’re sharing stories about how mentoring can benefit all young people, and how you can add your voice in support of those most at-risk of becoming disconnected from school, work and their community. This post recognizes the important work done by the Fond du Lac 4-H Tribal Youth Mentor Program in support of Native American youth.

Fond du LacMentoring is necessary if we are to support healthy communities and native youth. Through my work with the Fond du Lac 4-H Tribal Youth Mentor Program on the Fond du Lac Reservation in Minnesota, I have seen the life-changing effects mentoring has in supporting Native American youth on their path to success through building relationships, and research shows this is a critical asset deserving of national attention. Mentors guide and support youth in building social competencies and through building relationships with youth on the reservation, can strengthen family bonds and cultural ties.

The Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa has accepted the President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper Initiative Challenge to join other mayors, tribal leaders and county executives across the country to develop a plan of action to improve the lives of Native American youth by strengthening, expanding, and implementing youth mentoring activities.

This initiative has enhanced local community efforts to:

  • Provide mentors and role models – Create close connections between adults and kids through adult education, mentoring and skill-building.
  • Convey cultural values – Review, discuss, clarify and apply value system and teachings to all programs, activities and practices.


Niwaawiindamaage, weweni indendam nishtigwaan
Gwayakochige ninde’
Wenda-minochige nininjin, idash gwayako-bimaadiziyaan nindoodawaa
Nindinawemaaganag, maawanji-idiwag nimiziwekamig gaye.


I promise to pledge to people, proper/correct way of thinking, my head.
My heart to loyalty (do things the right way).
Do things in a good way, my hands
Live a good and healthy life, for my relatives, my club gatherings, and my world/community

Having a Tribal Youth Mentor Program has benefitted all of the community. Youth have become engaged in leadership development, career exploration, and service learning projects related to the environment, Ojibwe culture, and community needs. Family Night Out events are held monthly and these family get-togethers help strengthen family bonds by doing things that foster trust, kindness, healthy communication, problem solving and building positive family practices in real life.

This past January, members of the Fond du Lac 4-H Tribal Youth Mentor Program had the opportunity to attend MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership’s National Mentoring Summit in Washington, DC to meet with members of Congress and learn more about mentoring young people.  Staff received information and tools necessary to help improve outcomes for young people and recruit additional mentors in the future. We are grateful to MENTOR and the Mentoring Partnership of Minnesota for their support and guidance as we continue to strengthen and grow our program.


9 million young people in America are in need of a trusted adult in their lives to guide them in moments big and small. Join the In Real Life movement and become an advocate, make a donation or become a volunteer.

One Comment

  • Kyra Paitrick says:

    Great article. I can see this program is making an impact by all of the smiling faces in the photo. Thank you for writing this.

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