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University of Minnesota Extension

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Kate Walker

Associate Extension professor and Extension specialist in youth work practice, editor of the Journal of Youth Development

kate walker portrait

Kate leads the understanding and development of youth work practice. She studies the role that adult program leaders, staff and volunteers play in supporting youth development in programs. She also leads professional development efforts aimed at supporting and improving youth work practice. This includes trainings on social and emotional learning and on the dilemmas that practitioners face in their everyday work with young people. Kate is also the editor of the Journal for Youth Development: Bridging Research and Practice.

Kate’s research explores the dilemmas that practitioners face in their everyday work with youth and their strategies for addressing these challenges. From 2010-2015 she served as principal investigator for the University of Minnesota’s subcontract (from the University of Illinois, Principal Investigators Reed Larson and Marcella Raffaelli) for the Pathways Project (Proyecto Caminos), a 5-year, $1.3 million study of the development of self-direction in youth-program-family interaction systems among Latino and non-Latino youth funded by the William T. Grant Foundation.

Kate has 20 years of experience conducting applied research and evaluation with youth programs. Before returning to her native Minnesota, she worked and studied at the University of Illinois, where she served as project director for The Youth Development Experience (TYDE), a qualitative study of the developmental processes that occur in youth programs. Prior to that, Kate provided evaluation support, training and technical assistance to community-based organizations.

Academic degrees and experience

Selected publications

Walker, K. & Weiss, T.G. (2016). Ethical dilemmas experienced by youth workers: Implications for practice and professional development. In K. Pozzoboni & B. Kirschner. (Eds.)., The Changing Landscape of Youth Work: Theory and Practice for an Evolving Field. Information Age Press.

Ross, L., Capra, S., Carpenter, L., Hubbell, J., & Walker, K. (2015). Dilemmas in Youth Work and Youth Development Practice. New York: Routledge.

Larson, R., Walker, K., Rusk, N., & Diaz, L.B. (2015). Understanding youth development from the practitioner’s point of view: A call for research on effective practice. Applied Developmental Science, 19(2), 74-86.

Walker, K. & Larson, R. (2012). Youth worker reasoning about dilemmas encountered in practice: Expert-novice differencesJournal of Youth Development, 7(1).

Walker, K. (2011). The multiple roles that youth development program leaders adopt with youthYouth & Society, 43(2), 635-655.

Walker, K. & Saito, R. (2011). You^th are here: Promoting youth spaces through community mappingAfterschool Matters, 14(30-39).

Larson, R. & Walker, K. (2010). Dilemmas of practice: Challenges to program quality encountered by youth program leaders. American Journal of Community Psychology, 45(3), 338-349. 

Walker, K. (2007). Youth empowerment evaluation: Learning voiceAmerican Journal of Evaluation, 28(3), 321-326.


University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus

Reviewed in 2019

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