4 -H alumni perceptions regarding the impact of the Indiana 4 -H Program

Steven Kenneth McKinley, Purdue University


This study utilized qualitative and quantitative methods to identify the impact that 4-H alumni perceived their participation in the Indiana 4-H program had on their lives. Alumni who were 4-H members for six to 10 years and completed their tenure in 1988 were sampled from five Indiana counties. Questionnaires were completed by 72 alumni; 17 participated in focus groups to identify reasons underlying the responses given in the questionnaires. Seven alumni were interviewed by phone to clarify responses and resolve discrepancies between focus groups and questionnaire responses. ^ The primary impact alumni reported from 4-H was development of life skills, enhanced family relations, and influences on their educational and career choices. Life skills developed most from 4-H were responsibility, self-confidence/worth, leadership, ability to relate to others, and personal goal development. Aspects of the Indiana 4-H program with the most impact on alumni were: opportunities to compete, projects, awards and prizes received, other members, adult leaders, trips, and club meetings. ^ Over 91% believed their 4-H participation in the Indiana 4-H program had made a difference in their lives. Nearly 96% agreed that knowledge and skills they had gained through 4-H had benefited them as adults. Alumni said they had the opportunity to lead others and make a contribution. Alumni were not as frequently included in making important decisions or given challenging tasks while in 4-H Relative to other youth experiences, alumni ranked 4-H as having the fifth highest impact behind family, church, school, and friends. ^ Other conclusions identified in this research were: 4-H alumni volunteer in their communities; fair and ethical competition is valuable; Junior Leaders provide 4-H members with challenges; and 4-H members with higher tenure receive more impact from 4-H. Some suggestions for improvement to the Indiana 4-H program included recruiting alumni as 4-H volunteers; enhancing training opportunities for adult 4-H leaders and project judges; improving 4-H marketing strategies; and more fully challenging 4-H members. ^




Major Professor: James D. Russell, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Education, Adult and Continuing|Education, Agricultural

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