Extension News

It’s Significant: 4-H’ers Become Better Citizens, Leaders and Communicators

3/19/2009

AMES, Iowa -- Iowa 4-H’ers are gaining something significant from participating in 4-H clubs —something statistically significant, Iowa State University Extension research shows. According to Keli Tallman, an ISU Extension 4-H youth development state specialist, a new study shows that Iowa youth credit their 4-H clubs with making them better citizens, leaders and communicators.

The 2008 study examined self-reported changes in 4-H club members’ citizenship, leadership and communication knowledge/skills and behavior/practices. Using a five-point scale, the youth compared their skills in each area after participating in 4-H with their skill level before participating in 4-H, Tallman said.

“4-H club members’ ‘after’ 4-H scores were higher than their ‘before’ scores, and the differences were statistically significant for every indicator of citizenship, leadership and communication knowledge/skills, as well as behavior/practices,” she explained.

Tallman said 508 randomly selected 4-H club members from 25 counties completed the Iowa 4-H Youth Citizenship, Leadership and Communication Self-Assessment Tool in fall 2008. Results showed, on average, that after participating in 4-H clubs, 80 percent of the youth indicated their citizenship skills had increased and nearly 74 percent indicated their citizenship practices had improved. About 67 percent indicated their leadership skills had increased, and 72 percent indicated their leadership practices had improved. In addition, 73 percent of the youth indicated their communication skills increased, and 72 percent indicated their communication practices had improved. 

“The results are phenomenal,” Tallman said. “When they look at citizenship, leadership and communication, Iowa youth say they have been able to gain the skills and demonstrate the behaviors because of their participation in 4-H clubs.”

In terms of citizenship, 4-H’ers said 4-H clubs help them connect to their community and understand their community’s needs and strengths. They have the opportunity to participate in service learning projects, and be fair and trustworthy as they work together to get things done.

4-H clubs helped youth gain leadership skills through opportunities to serve as club officers and activity team leaders. They learned to work as a team with people who have opinions and ideas different from their own. The youth also said they learned to set personal goals and handle conflict respectfully.

The 4-H’ers said being involved in 4-H clubs helped them gain communication skills through creating demonstrations and presentations and speaking in front of groups. In addition, they learned to work together with people of various ages, to speak and write effectively, to listen attentively to others’ views and to express their ideas.

For more information contact Tallman, ktallman@iastate.edu.

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Contacts :

Keli Tallman, ISU Extension 4-H Youth Development, (515) 294-0688, ktallman@iastate.edu

Laura Sternweis, Extension Communications and External Relations, (515) 294-0775, lsternwe@iastate.edu