Youth identify leadership qualities gained through 4-H

Youth report gaining leadership and life skills from their 4-H experience.

The 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development through Tufts University’s Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development in Massachusetts says much about the importance of 4-H in the lives of young people. The study collected data from over 7,000 youth in grades 5-12 and over 3,000 of their parents. Tufts University’s study assessed the five C’s of positive youth development: competence, confidence, character, connection and caring. Also found in the Tufts University study is the impact of 4-H youth development. In this research is the discussion of a sixth C, which is contribution. The Tufts University study found that positive youth development “predicts both community contributions and lessened likelihood of risk/problem behaviors.” The study sites this example: “Positive youth development programs in grade 5 result in predicted higher youth contributions and lower risk behaviors and depression at grade 6.”

Michigan 4-H youth confirm these findings in the following excerpts from scholarship forms in Branch County.

Eighteen-year-old Cheyenne McCollough, with 12 years in 4-H, wrote, “4-H has taught me to work with all different kinds of people, which will help me in my career by knowing how to work with every individual that is different. I also learned that with hard work and dedication, you can persevere through any obstacle that is thrown your way. If you want it bad enough you will find a way to achieve it. 4-H has opened up a multitude of different opportunities to experience and learn about what real life can be like. It has taught me how to assume responsibility no matter what that is very important in life. 4-H has helped me to come out of my shell and experience all that life has to offer instead of sitting on the sidelines. It has taught me what a true leader should possess. It has taught me how to interact and handle different situations that might come about during my lifetime. I hope to give the younger generation the respect and guidance that I had been given. Through 4-H, I learned how to be respectful to others, which showed me how I would want to be respected…keeping true to your values and not letting them out of sight.”

Eighteen-year-old Renee Souva, with eight years in 4-H, wrote, “Hard work, dedication and leadership are just a few qualities that I have learned through my experience in 4-H. Learning these qualities at a young age has helped prepare me for the next 10 years of my life because with these qualities I will be a more successful employee and citizen. I am so glad that I have had the opportunity to be part of an amazing county where the youth get to have a voice in the 4-H organization. I want to give back to those organizations who provided me he leadership and communication skills influencing my life so I can help teach life lessons and skills to the future generations.”

Eighteen-year-old Shelby Gilbert, with eight years in 4-H, wrote, “Most importantly, 4-H has taught me to give back to the community. Being in 4-H has taught me many skills that I will be able to use in the future. So my 4-H experience has prepared me with all of the memories, laughter and happiness, giving back and having fun with some new and old friends and family.”

Eighteen-year-old Noah Winans, with 10 years in 4-H, wrote, “My career plan is to focus on agriculture and science. Agriculture is one of the most important fields to go into to have an impact on the future, not just on a community level, but also on a world level. With the world population expected to reach 9.7 billion people by 2050, we have to find ways to provide enough food to feed all these people. With my greatest strengths being in math and science, I want to pursue a career field where I can apply my talents to their full potential. By building on my strengths and expanding my knowledge, I know I can be part of the force that makes a difference in the world. 4-H and FFA have been a tradition for many generations in my family. I plan to carry on the tradition throughout my life and find ways to serve those around me. This is what 4-H and FFA has taught me and I am eager to put all this knowledge to use in the next 10 years.”

Eighteen-year-old Adam Clemens, with six years in 4-H, wrote, “I know that my participation in 4-H has helped me. Some of the important lessons learned like persistence, patience, being responsible, caring and not afraid of failing will be core values that will push me in my upcoming endeavors.”

Studies, coupled with quotes from youth, offer strong evidence for the importance of 4-H in developing leadership skills and other life skills. Michigan State University Extension and the Michigan 4-H Youth Development program helps to prepare youth as positive and engaged leaders and global citizens by providing educational experiences and resources for youth interested in developing knowledge and skills in these areas. To learn about the positive impact of Michigan 4-H youth leadership, civic engagement, citizenship and global/cultural programs, read our 2015 Impact Report: “Developing Civically Engaged Leaders.”

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