Examination of Leadership and 4-H Experience among 4-H Participants
Type of DegreePhD Dissertation
Education Foundation, Leadership, and Technology
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The future of the nation, and the future of world civilization, will soon rest in the hands of today’s youth (Kleon & Rinhart, 1998). Youth organizations such as Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and 4-H provide lifelong leadership and life skills that youth of all ages will continue to use throughout their life. Leadership and positive youth development both play a significant role in youth development organizations throughout the world. Life skills are learned competencies known to support individuals in leading productive and rewarding lives, and include decision-making, accepting differences, teamwork, self-responsibility, cooperation, and communication (Culen, Jordan, Maass, Place, & Wilken, 2006). The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between 4-H members whose project area is 4-H Leadership and Citizenship, and the following three binary pairs: rural verses urban counties, elementary/middle school verses high school, and in-school verses out-of-school participation. Knowing more about the 4-H members’ leadership qualities will enhance current research on youth 4-H experience. For this study, the research sample included 2,110 active 4-H members ranging from ages 9–18; 913 male and 1,197 female 4-H members; 165 high school 4-H members and 1,946 elementary/middle school students; and 1,681 in-school 4-H members and 430 out-of-school 4-H members. The ethnicity of the group included 1,227 White and 885 persons of color. The sample also included 833 urban 4-H members and 1,278 rural 4-H members. Based on the results of this study, over a three-year time frame, there was a statistically significant difference among 4-H members who reside in urban counties verses 4-H members who resides in rural counties. The data revealed that 4-H members who reside in urban counties demonstrated more of the 4-H Essential Elements skills (Belonging, Independence, Generosity and Mastery) than youth in rural counties. Results also indicated that over a three-year time frame, there was a statistically significant difference among 4-H members who were in high school verses those who were in elementary/middle school. The data revealed high school 4-H members consistently demonstrated stronger 4-H Essential Elements involvement than elementary/middle school members. The data likewise indicated a statistically significant difference among 4-H members who were involved in in-school verses out-of-school 4-H programs. The data specified 4-H members who were involved in in-school 4-H programs had higher 4-H Essential Elements leadership skills than out-of-school 4-H members. In summary, the results indicated 4-H members who participated in Leadership and Citizenship programs with the connections to the following three binary pairs: rural verses urban counties, elementary/middle school verses high school and in-school verses out-of-school participation, all had different outcomes than expected. Within this study, the life skills and 4-H Essential Elements (Belonging, Independence, Generosity and Mastery) gained by the youth allow them to prosper and grow into outstanding 4-H Alumni as well as productive adults.