RESEARCH ON THE IMPACT OF 4-H ANIMAL PROJECTS
Studies on the impact of 4-H on former members generally use alumni as one cohort. In rural states, such as Montana, it is important to understand the impact of 4-H on alumni in these rural areas and the role 4-H plays in community involvement. The study reported here sought to determine the perception of current community leaders in rural Montana and the relationship between development of leadership skills and participation in 4-H. The study found that 4-H continues to influence rural community leaders in Montana, although it plays a modest role in influencing community involvement in all areas except agriculture groups.
Middle and high school students who care for animals as part of UW-Extension 4-H projects gain skills that benefit them for a lifetime — accepting responsibility, communicating effectively, developing relationships, making decisions, organizing their work, setting and achieving goals — all grounded in the strong technical knowledge and values they acquire during their years of participation.
An alumni survey was conducted to determine the affect participation in 4-H animal science programs has had on the development of life skills such as spirit of inquiry, decision making, ability to relate to others, maintain records, public speaking, positive self esteem, and ability to accept responsibility. Alumni were also asked how effective various events and activities were in developing life skills and if their involvement in 4-H animal science projects had any influence on their career choice. For all areas a positive relationship was indicated.
Does participating in the 4-H beef project help develop life skills in youth? Randomly selected parents of youth were mailed a survey asking them to determine if 13 life skills were enhanced as a result of their child participating in the 4-H beef project. The rank order for the top five mean scores were: "accepting responsibility," "setting goals," "develop self-discipline," "self motivation," and "knowledge of the livestock industry." A Pearson product moment correlation coefficient also revealed a low-to-moderate positive relationship for life skill development and years of participating in the 4-H beef project.
Youth must be provided opportunities to explore career options, be introduced to science and technology related to these career choices, and develop fundamental life skills to become productive members of society. Do traditional 4-H project activities provide these opportunities? To answer this question, a survey was conducted to determine the impact of the 4-H swine project on youth development.
The Kid's Klub is a new approach to curriculum for school-age child care in summer that focuses on building developmental assets. This project integrates 4-H adult and youth leaders, Master Gardeners, and UW-Extension Staff in presenting projects each week during the summer to first- through fourth-grade children. Public Adventures, a 4-H community service curriculum, was conducted. Fact sheets on building assets were written for parents. All parents reported that their children continued developing empathy, sensitivity, and friendship skills. Nearly three-fourths of the parents reported that their children gained in the following three areas: community values youth, youth as resources, and creative activities.