Need something new and fresh to invigorate your youth family history program? Check out “Project My Story: Past and Present.” This certification program gives young people the chance to learn and check off family history skills as they go. They start with themselves, recording information about their lives, then discover and preserve memories of their ancestors, finding names for the temple as they go.
Why certify youth?
In our LDS ward, we’ve held many classes and activities introducing family history to our youth and teaching them skills. This year, we wanted a way for them to see just how much they’ve learned and also to encourage them to keep progressing. We decided a family history certification program would be a great way to reach those goals.
What is youth certification?
We based the program upon the three main purposes for LDS family history:
1. Do temple ordinances for our ancestors -FIND, TAKE, TEACH
2. Get to know our ancestors and preserve memories
3. Create a record of our dead that is “worthy of all acceptation” (D&C 128:24)
Our certification program lists each of these purposes followed by required actions and optional actions to help youth master the associated skills. Two levels of certification ensure that there is something for every level of experience. Many of the actions dovetail with requirements for the BSA Genealogy Merit Badge, YW Personal Progress, and YM Duty to God, and are noted on the form.
How we’re using Family History Certification
Through much experience with youth (and adults for that matter) we’ve discovered that papers get lost, so we’ve gone to a cloud based reporting system. We set up a Google Drive folder with a certification form in Google Doc format for each youth. They can access their form on any device anytime they’re working on family history and check off items they’ve accomplished. The adult consultants have access to the folder with all of the youth forms and also have some paper forms for those without a Google account.
Download: Youth Family History Certification Checklist docx file
Download: Youth family history Certification PDF file
When to do Family History Certification
We have three regular times that youth come together to do family history and work on their certification.
Monthly Sunday School Class: eaach week, a different youth Sunday School class joins us in our family history computer room during the 2nd hour of our regular meeting block. As adult consultants, we work one-on-one with the youth and their teachers to pass off skills.
Monthly Meeting: all the temple and family history consultants (youth and adult) meet monthly to work on various certification skills. We also plan ways to help the other youth and ward members increase their love for family history.
Quarterly Classes: we hold an afternoon youth family history class one Sunday per quarter. Everyone brings their laptops to an adult consultant’s home. We have treats and lots of fun as the youth access their personal certification form and go to work. The youth help each other and youth consultants have an opportunity to teach their peers.
Motivation and getting the word out
Before beginning “Project My Story: Past and Present,” we presented the idea of certification to our ward leaders. With their enthusiasm behind the program we moved forward, with the plan that there would be a fun reward at the end of the year for all the youth who had completed the requirements.
We remind families through our monthly ward newsletter of the program and how it can be used in many ways: family home evening, fulfilling BSA Genealogy badge, YW Personal Progress, and Duty to God requirements.
Here is a flyer you can download and customize for your ward.
How is it working?
So far, we’ve had a really great response from the youth. They love checking off the boxes as they demonstrate their skills. As the year progresses, we hope to involve families as well.
How can you get started?
1. Download the Certification form by clicking here: Family History Certification Checklist
2. Meet with your ward youth and adult leaders to see if this might help your youth progress in their temple and family history work.
3. Schedule regular times where you meet with the youth to work on certification.
4. Celebrate progress!
Setting up your cloud based youth certification program
1. Click on this link to go to the google doc checklist template. This is a view only file.
2. Click “File” and select “Make a copy.” This will allow you to have the file in your own google drive folders.
3. Customize the copy of the document: add the name, membership # and email of the youth.
4. Continue making copies of the original certification form and customizing it for each youth in your ward.
5. Save each document with the youth’s name in the file name to a folder titled Highland Ward Youth Family History Certification (insert your ward name).
6. Share each document individually with the youth, then share the entire folder with the other temple and family history consultants in your ward.
To help youth learn to find names for temple work, we use the “Adopt A Family Checklists.” The checklists teach how to use Pandora’s Hope Chest and Puzzilla.org to find individuals on FamilySearch needing temple work. Additional checklists introduce the youth to the FamilySearch Wiki and encourage sourcing and pedigree analysis to make sure duplicates are found and merged appropriately.
DOWNLOAD: ADOPT-A-FAMILY Checklists
Best of luck in all of your temple and family history work!