Benefits of youth participation in Career Development Events

Career Development Events (CDEs) contribute to youth’s life skill development in animal science-related areas.

According to Michigan State University Extension, 4-H and FFA programs exist throughout the country and have a similar goal of preparing young people for future careers. Career Development Events, or CDEs, exist in many forms. In Michigan 4-H, these CDEs are commonly referred to as Expo’s and in Michigan FFA they are referred to as Skills Contests. However, the motivation behind both organizations events is to expose youth to grow in content knowledge, life skill development and to have fun while learning.

Several studies have identified decision making, increased self-esteem, improved communication, and organization and leadership skills as life skills that are developed by youth participation in CDEs. A study conducted by Purdue University, Youth motivation to participate in animal science-related career development events, explored what participant’s motivation to participate in CDEs was and what resources they utilized to prepare for the CDE.

The study found that youth participated in the CDEs to develop career skills, compete and to have fun. The study also found that youth participate because they want to learn more about an industry or content area.

Youth reported that in order to prepare for the contests, they used experiential learning activities and technology resources such as judging workshops, invitational contests, videos and/or DVD’s, coach-created materials, and websites.

The implications of this study can be applied by keeping youth motivated to participate in the forefront of preparation. Focusing on teaching youth transferable career skills, allowing them the opportunity to compete and to have fun with their peers during these events is critical.

Michigan 4-H will be hosing numerous expos through the 2013-2014 program year.

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