Thesis (M.S., Agricultural Education & 4H Youth Development)--University of Idaho, June 2014 | The purpose of this study is to describe how participation in Idaho 4-H youth development programs impacts the citizenship, civic engagement and leadership life skills of the participants in adulthood. Objectives for the study included: describing particpants' perceptions of citizenship and leadership and how Idaho 4-H youth development programs have impacted their views and actions in citizenship, civic engagement, and leadership life skills as adults; describing other factors participants feel have contributed to the growth, views and actions in those life skill areas; determining what 4-H programs, activities and projects Idaho 4-H alumni participated in and which were most impactful to their growth and development of citizenship, civic engagement and leadership life skills; and describing improvements or changes that participants feel need to be made to the Idaho 4-H program which would strengthen the development of citizenship, civic engagement, and leadership life skills.
This study utilized a qualitative ethnographic research design and methodology. Particpants were interviewed using an open-ended questionnaire. Most of the interviews took place over the phone but a few were done in person because the particular participants lived nearby. A total of 15 interviews were collected over a period of three months in the fall of 2013. Because of the large amount of data generated, only 12 of the interviews were used in the final analysis.
Overall participants felt the Idaho 4-H program had a positive impact on their citizenship, civic engagement and leadership life skills but they also noted other non-4-H youth development programs and activities that had influenced these life skills. However, several participants said involvement in 4-H had given them the confidence and abilities to be involved in these other programs and activities. Participants listed several current 4-H activities such as 4-H National Congress, 4-H National Conference, Teen Conference and Know Your Government Conference as having been especially important in the development of their citizenship, civic engagement and leadership life skills. While they felt these activities were beneficial, they had several suggestions for improvements and changes.