Midland County 4-H program helps youth build developmental assets

The Midland County 4-H program is building developmental assets in youth. Let’s explore the recent results of program evaluation done on the 4-H program.

Mean composite asset scores among Midland County 4-H participants in 2013 and 2016.
Mean composite asset scores among Midland County 4-H participants in 2013 and 2016.

Created in the 1990s, the 40 Developmental Assets are a compilation of positive experiences and qualities that influence a young person’s development and helps them to become successful adults. The 40 Developmental Assets were developed by the Search Institute, with framework for the program grounded in research on child and adolescent development, risk prevention and resiliency. Research from the Search Institute shows that the more assets young people have, the less likely they are to engage in risky behaviors.

Results from a recent study done by the Legacy Center of Midland, Michigan, shows that 4-H does a great job of helping youth to develop assets and keep those assets over time. From the data in the graph (view larger version of graph), it shows that Midland County 4-H members increased assets in the area of empowerment, social competencies and positive identity. The other areas did show a decrease (some very little), but are still in the excellent or good range. Comparing these numbers to the general population average of 18 assets at sixth grade shows the Midland County 4-H program does help build assets and have a positive impact on youth.

Overall, the study reflects that through the Michigan State University Extension 4-H Youth Development Program, youth are building assets through positive relationships with leaders, empowering youth to be creators of their own development and helping others through service. As parents and youth in our communities, the 4-H program can be a helpful tool as we strive to develop the positive assets that will help our youth be successful in life.

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