Decade-long study provides powerful evidence that high-quality positive youth development programs lead to impact
CHEVY CHASE, Md., Dec. 19, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, National 4-H Council unveiled a new and final report—The Positive Development of Youth: Comprehensive Findings from the 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development. Highly regarded as the first-ever research project of its kind, the study defined and measured positive youth development.
For more than a decade, preeminent youth development scholars, Drs. Richard M. Lerner and Jacqueline V. Lerner, and the team at the Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development at Tufts University, Medford, Mass., partnered with faculty at America's land-grant colleges and universities to conduct this groundbreaking research. The results are influencing research and practice around the world.
"We believe this work has changed for the better—the developmental science of youth development and the work of practitioners dedicated to enhancing the lives of our nation's young people," said Richard M. Lerner, Ph.D., study co-author, Tufts University.
The longitudinal study discovered that the structured out-of-school time learning, leadership experiences, and adult mentoring that young people receive through their participation in 4-H play a vital role in helping them achieve success.
Compared to their peers, the report shows that youth involved in 4-H programs excel in several areas. 4-H'ers are about:
- four times more likely to make contributions to their communities (Grades 7-12);
- two times more likely to be civically active (Grades 8-12);
- two times more likely to make healthier choices (Grade 7);
- two times more likely to participate in science, engineering and computer technology programs during out-of-school time (Grades 10-12); and
- 4-H girls are two times more likely (Grade 10) and nearly three times more likely (Grade 12) to take part in science programs compared to girls in other out-of-school time activities.
"This scientific research shows that the 4-H approach to high-quality positive youth development works," said Donald T. Floyd, Jr., president and CEO, National 4-H Council, who will be retiring on December 31st after 22 years with 4-H. "After nearly a decade of rigorous research and review, we now have a way to evaluate and demonstrate the effectiveness of these programs. The research is proof positive that young people are assets to be developed; not problems to be solved," added Floyd.
"At Philips, we're committed to attracting and developing students who stand out among their peers, especially in the science, technology, engineering and math disciplines, which are critical to the future of our business," said Greg Sebasky, chairman, Philips North America. "We support 4-H in their mission to find new and innovative ways to get kids excited about science, as we believe it is the key to solving the critical challenges affecting people around the world."
The Positive Development of Youth: Comprehensive Findings from the 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development is a longitudinal study that began in 2002 and was repeated annually for eight years, surveying more than 7,000 adolescents from diverse backgrounds across 42 U.S. states.
The first wave of research began with fifth graders during the 2002-2003 school year and ended with twelfth graders (Wave eight) in 2010. More recently, the Tufts research team examined all eight waves of data and conducted new and more rigorous analyses in order to produce the comprehensive report of findings. The new report, while sometimes diverging from earlier results, provides powerful evidence of the impact of 4-H participation throughout Grades 5-12.
The 4-H study is helping families, schools, communities and youth programs develop strategies to support children and adolescents. Effective youth development programs like 4-H are putting the research to work by focusing on three important areas:
- Positive and sustained relationships between youth and adults
- Activities that build important life skills
- Opportunities for youth to use these skills as participants and leaders in community activities
Funding for this research was provided by Philip Morris USA, an Altria company, through its efforts to prevent underage tobacco use. For more information on the company's underage tobacco prevention efforts, visit the website at www.ALTRIA.com.
About 4-H: 4-H is a community of seven million young people around the world learning leadership, citizenship, and life skills. National 4-H Council is the private sector, non-profit partner of the Cooperative Extension System and 4-H National Headquarters located at the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) within the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). In the United States, 4-H programs are implemented by the 109 land-grant universities and Cooperative Extension through more than 3,000 local offices serving every county and parish in the country. Outside the United States, 4-H programs operate through independent, country-led organizations in more than 50 countries.
SOURCE National 4-H Council