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Iowa State University Extension

It’s significant: 4-H’ers become better citizens, leaders and communicators

4-H'ers build skills

Iowa 4-H’ers are gaining something significant from participating in 4-H clubs —something statistically significant, ISU 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.”

One 4-H’er put it this way: “4-H has unique opportunities that allow you to become a leader, to become a role model, to become an effective communicator and to become active in your community. It has given me the ability to see my own potential. I discovered the pathway to my future through 4-H.”

For more information contact Tallman,

This article appeared in April 2009 -- From Jack Payne Newsletter