To find out how 4-H clubs improve youths’ communication, citizenship and leadership skills, it’s best to ask the source. That’s why ISU Extension surveyed 466 randomly selected 4-H club members in 2007. According to Keli Tallman, an ISU Extension 4-H youth development state specialist, “The 4-H’ers told us how much their skills had improved as a result of their participation in county 4-H clubs.”
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. “For every indicator of communication, citizenship and leadership, the youths’ rated their skills significantly higher after participating in 4-H.”
The research showed on average, 46.1 percent of 4-H club members indicated a one-point increase in their communication skills after participating in a 4-H club. In addition, 17.6 percent indicated a two-point increase, and 2.8 percent indicated a three-point increase, Tallman said. The youth reported similar increases in their citizenship and leadership skills.
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.
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 respect their own skills and the skills of others 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.
For more information contact Tallman, firstname.lastname@example.org.