Skip to Main Content

Indiana 4-H Programs Lead to Positive Youth Development

“4-H began over 100 years ago and has since grown into the largest youth development program in the nation. 4-H prepares young people to be leaders in their community and around the world through hands-on experiences alongside their peers and caring adults. Backed by a network of more than 6 million youth, 540,000 adult volunteers, 3,500 professionals, and more than 60 million alumni, 4-H delivers research-based programming around positive youth development. 4-H is delivered through America’s 109 land-grant universities and the Cooperative Extension Service, reaching every corner of our nation.

 In Indiana, 4-H can be found in all 92 counties delivered through Purdue Extension. Community clubs, afterschool programs, school enrichment, camps/workshops, and special interest programs are all ways youth across Indiana can be involved with the 4-H program. In 105 4-H programs held across 46 Indiana counties, areas, multi-county collaborations, statewide, and virtually, there were 1,784 youth (grades 4-12) who completed Common Measures 2.0 post-surveys. Over half (59.1%) reported they were female. For grade levels, 12th grade had the largest percentage (14.4%), followed by 5th grade (14.0%), and 4th grade (13.5%). The largest number were 11 years old (15.4%), age 10 (13.6%), and age 13 (11.2%). Two-thirds (67.9%) reported their race as White or Caucasian. Program evaluation efforts focused on core concepts: 4-H experience, universal skills, including personal mindset, social and leadership, animal science, civic engagement, healthy living, science and engineering, and college and career readiness. Focusing on the 4-H experience, 485 youth in 14 programs reported (4-point scale) that 4-H is a place where they feel safe (3.80), they learn about ways to help their community (3.77), it’s okay for them to make mistakes (3.76), and adults care about them (3.76).

 For universal skills, 249 youth in 16 programs reported (4-point scale): I am willing to work hard on something difficult (3.68), I try to learn from my mistakes (3.56), I treat others the way I want to be treated (3.55), and I like to learn new things (3.50). In animal science, 82 youth in three programs reported (3-point scale) that they learned the right way to store and handle feed (2.49), they practice safe animal handling (2.48), and they learned about housing/shelter for their animal (2.45). Youth reported aspirations toward animal science, showing they would like a career caring for animals (2.35), raising animals (2.33), and training animals (2.14). Looking at civic engagement, 138 youth in 10 programs reported that they (99.3%) like helping people in their community, they (92.0%) had met community leaders because of 4-H, they (87.7%) had encouraged others to volunteer in the community, they (92.6%) feel a responsibility to help their community, and they (97.1%) were inspired by 4-H to volunteer in their community. In healthy living, 169 youth in 16 programs reported they (98.4%) learned about healthy food choices at 4-H, they (71.0%) have given their family ideas for healthy meals or snacks, they (83.3%) encourage friends to be active with them, and they (70.0%) talked about ways to be active at 4-H.

 With science and engineering, 341 youth in 30 programs (4-point scale) reported learning about robotics (3.22), engineering (3.19), and animal science (3.17). Youth expressed positive attitudes about science, with nearly all (96.8%) reporting that they like science. Most (86.0%) responded that they would like a job that uses science. Focusing on college and career readiness, 388 youth (grades 8-12) in 16 programs reported (4-point scale) that it is important to be trusted by an employer (3.99), arrive to work on time (3.97), do their job well (3.96), and show respect for others (3.93). Youth reported that 4-H helped them to think about the amount of education they might need in the future (98.7%), identify things they are good at (95.7%), and explore future career options (92.4%). In current 4-H activity, youth reported spending less than one hour to five or more hours each week on 4-H activities.

For past 4-H involvement, youth reported they are in, or have been in, a 4-H Club (67.6%), participated in county-level competitive events (54.7%), and attended 4-H camp or another overnight 4-H experience (42.1%). Just 21.4% of youth reported that this was their first 4-H event. Looking ahead to future 4-H participation, youth were interested in activities with animals, will not participate/am not active in 4-H, becoming a teacher, Bringing World-Class Education to Rural and Urban Communities 21 leader, counselor, or volunteer, advancing grade levels for participation, attending meetings/having in-person meetings, and projects/fair activities. Indiana 4-H contributed to positive youth development, to growth in personal and social skills, to gains in knowledge and skills, and to positive attitudes through civic engagement, healthy living, animal science, science and engineering, and college and career readiness programs.”

To Top