University of New Hampshire
Health Management and Policy
Mentor: Dr. Robert McGrath
Evaluation of the Impact of 4-H Essential Elements: Belonging, Mastery, Independence and Generosity
The 4-H national youth development organization is one of the oldest programs in the nation working to build a strong generation of youth to ensure a successful future. Through the theory of positive youth development, 4-H focuses on building youths’ strengths through their head, heart, hands, and health. The 4-H organization has created fundamental “essential elements” to their programming, derived from the positive youth development philosophy of The Circle of Courage©. These essential elements comprise of belonging, mastery, independence, and generosity. These four characteristics have become the theoretical backbone of 4-H and aim to integrate throughout all 4-H programming. The University of New Hampshire’s Cooperative Extension has led the State’s 4-H Program since 1914. Despite its extensive history, there is limited data illustrating how 4-H programs achieve their goals. This research study focuses on the outcomes of 4-H involvement associated with the 4-H essential elements.
Data: This project uses qualitative video interviews to explore the impact of 4-H programs on participants and alumni. This data is then validated through a brief quantitative survey, adopted from the evaluation tool: 4-H Common Measures for 8th-12th Grade Universal Items.
Results: The project will result in both a final paper and short documentary. The findings of this study will allow the New Hampshire 4-H organization to recognize their impact on participants and create more effective program goals. Results of this study may also provide evidence of a successful publicly funded program with the potential to expand efforts to other youth populations in need.