• Research

  • Positive Youth Development

    Research Shows 4-H Helps Young People Excel Beyond Their Peers

    The structured learning, encouragement and adult mentoring that young people receive through their participation in 4-H plays a vital role in helping them achieve success in life.

    For more than a decade, preeminent youth development scholars, Drs. Richard M. Lerner and Jacqueline V. Lerner, and the team at the Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development at Tufts University, Medford, MA, partnered with faculty at America’s land-grant colleges and universities to conduct this groundbreaking research. The results are influencing research and practice around the world.

    The Positive Development of Youth: Comprehensive Findings from the 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development is a longitudinal study that began in 2002 and was repeated annually for eight years, surveying more than 7,000 adolescents from diverse backgrounds across 42 U.S. states.

    Highly regarded as the first-ever research project of its kind, the study defined and measured positive youth development. Compared to their peers, the report shows that youth involved in 4-H programs excel in several areas. 4-H'ers are about:

    • Four times more likely to make contributions to their communities (Grades 7-12);
    • Two times more likely to be civically active (Grades 8-12);
    • Two times more likely to make healthier choices (Grade 7);
    • Two times more likely to participate in Science, Engineering and Computer Technology programs during out-of-school time (Grades 10 – 12); and
    • 4-H girls are two times  more likely (Grade 10) and nearly three times more likely (Grade 12) to take part in science programs compared to girls in other out-of-school time activities.