Tufts research defines positive youth development statistics about 4-H

A study completed by researchers at Tufts University shows that 4-H has a positive impact on youth.

Recently a National 4-H Council news release announced the final results of an eight year study from Tufts University. The research was about 4-H and positive youth development for over 7,000 young people from different backgrounds in 42 states and was completed through land grant university faculty in those states.

In a report called The Positive Development of Youth: Comprehensive Findings from the 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development, researchers and scholars, Dr. Richard M. Learner, Dr. Jacqueline V. Lerner and their team at Tufts University, found that 4-H members are

  • 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)
  • Female 4-H participants 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 study is the first of its kind in showing a link between 4-H and positive youth development. The study showed that 4-H youth make healthier choices when it comes to delaying sexual intercourse, misuse of drugs and are more likely to be physically active. The report also shows that 4-H’ers excel in school by receiving better grades, being engaged in their school and expect to graduate from college. According to the research 4-H’ers surveyed in 11th grade are 3.3 times more likely to actively contribute to their communities than youth who do not participate in 4-H.

National 4-H reports that there are 540,000 volunteers, 3,500 professionals and more than 60 million alumni

The news release also stated, “The structured learning, encouragement and adult mentoring that young people receive through their participation in 4-H plays a vital role in helping them achieve success in life.”

Those statistics reinforces the National 4-H statement that, “4-H is the nation’s largest youth development and empowerment organization, reaching more than 7 million 4-H youth in urban neighborhoods, suburban schoolyards and rural farming communities. Fueled by university-backed curriculum, 4-H'ers engage in hands-on learning activities in the areas of science, healthy living and food security.”

In the annual 4-H report on the National 4-H website also states the 4-H mission “empowers youth to reach their full potential, working and learning in partnership with caring adults. And the 4-H vision is a world in which youth and adults learn, grow and work together as catalysts for positive change.”

According to Michigan State University Extension, it seems that the statistics completed in the Tufts study is evidence that 4-H has been successful in completing the 4-H mission and vision.

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