Introduction

The Nevada 4-H Evaluation and Assessment Working Group administered an annual survey to Nevada 4-H members to assess the impact of 4-H on statewide participants. This fact sheet presents the results of the 2020 statewide survey and helps to demonstrate the general value of 4-H in quantifiable measures (Goodwin, 2007).

Methods

A working group using the Common Measures framework developed two surveys in 2018, a short version for youth in grades four through seven and an extended version for grades eight through 12. The Nevada 4-H Annual Survey uses two scales from the 4-H Common Measures 2.0, the   4-H Experience and Universal scales, including nine demographic items (National 4-H Council, 2017). The two frames of the statewide survey reported here included 15 4-H Experience items, and the instrument for older youth asked an additional 15 Universal items. Additional items included asking youth in which Nevada county they participated in 4-H in and asking older youth about their plans after high school. The survey for younger youth consisted of 28 items, and the survey for older youth contained 53 items. The 4-H Experience and Universal items were measured using a four-point Likert scale (4 = yes, 3 = usually, 2 = not really, 1 = no). Fifteen items in the survey formed the 4-H Experience scale, designed to measure participants on the eight essential elements of positive youth development (Kress, 2004). This scale had an excellent reliability score of .83, indicating that all scale items align with the essential elements. The 19 items that comprised 4-H Universal scale measure the personal growth mindset and social skills necessary to be competent members of society (National 4-H Council, 2017). The 4-H Universal scale items were only given to youth in eighth through 12th grades. Youth completed surveys both online via Qualtrics and in-person through paper copies.

Participation

Survey participation came from diverse-aged youth across the state, with ages ranging from 7 to 18. Of youth who participated in the survey, 65% were between 11 and 15 years old (13-17 years old made up 56% of respondents, an increase from 45% in 2019). Participation was higher among female youth (58%) than males (38%) and was largely non-Hispanic (88%) and White (81%). See Tables 1-3 below for a breakdown of participant gender, race and ethnicity. Of respondents, 56% participated in 4-H for three or more years, and 33% of youth participated for two or fewer years. See Figure 1 for a breakdown of respondents years in 4-H. The 2020 survey sample had more youth endorse being in   4-H “one year and fewer” and “four years and more,” reflecting a slight increase in multi-year involvement from the 2019 survey sample. Most survey respondents reported that their 4-H participation occurred at the county level (70%), with 91% of respondents participating in a 4-H club. Forty-four percent of respondents also reported participating in online/virtual meetings or activities. This virtual component of 4-H allowed youth to continue their involvement in club and program activities during the COVID-19 pandemic. The number of surveys returned by county are found in Table 4.

Program Impacts

4-H Experience Scale

The average mean of items for the 4-H Experience scale was 3.52, with “Is 4-H a place where adults care about you?” having the highest mean response (M = 3.79). These scale results suggest that Nevada   4-H is a safe place for youth to feel that they belong. Those feelings of belonging make it easier to focus on helping others and pursue activities the youth enjoy. The question “Is 4-H a place where you get to do things that you like?” elicited a mean response of 3.73, which suggests that 4-H participants have opportunities to pursue interests and hobbies that create constructive learning experiences. Nevada 4-H youth participants also suggested that they learn about ways to help their community (M = 3.63). When youth practice service in their community, they form bonds with members of their clubs and the community, a focus of the 4-H pledge. A reverse-coded item, “Is 4-H a place where adults make the decisions?” (M = 2.68), suggests that youth in 4-H are able to choose activities and figure things out for themselves. The scale results suggest that youth feel comfortable and safe in 4-H, allowing them more opportunities to make their own decisions. Survey items inquiring about a sense of belonging, group work and leadership opportunities appeared to decrease from previous survey years, which could suggest a limited amount of youth opportunities due to unprecedented circumstances or different youth respondents, among other reasons.

4-H Universal Scale

The average mean of the 4-H Universal scale was 3.49. Items “Do you like to learn new things?” and “Do you show respect for others’ ideas?” elicited the highest means (3.75 and 3.72, respectfully), possibly suggesting that youth are developing a healthy personal mindset necessary for individual, school, and workplace success. Various items in the 4-H Universal scale declined in mean from the previous survey year. This could possibly be explained by continued restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic or a decrease in multi-year 4-H participants and an increase in first-year youth, among other possibilities.

Additional Items

Other survey items note that 97% of respondents selected “yes” or “usually” when asked “Can you be counted on to follow through on things you say you will do?”, and 94% of respondents agreed that it is important for them to give their time to help others. When asked “Is 4-H as place you can stay connected with others during the pandemic?” 81% of youth respondents answered “yes.” This response suggests that implementing virtual 4-H activities helps youth feel connected and important during the pandemic. The complete list of 4-H Experience and Universal scale items, the number of responses, and their means (2019 and 2020) can be found in Appendices A, B and C.

Post-Graduation Plans

Finally, respondents grades eight through 12 were asked about their plans following high school. Most (64%) answered “Go to college.” “Find a full-time job” has the next highest response rate (14%), followed closely by “Go to trade school” (12%). This response suggests that many wish to continue their education. Of respondents indicating that they wanted to go to college, 33% answered that they plan to attend a college or university outside of Nevada; 20% of respondents wish to pursue their education at the University of Nevada, Reno; and 30% of respondents are undecided on where to go.

Discussion/Next Steps

Overall results from the 4-H Experience (Mean = 3.53) and Universal (Mean = 3.45) scales, both on a 1-to-4 scale, reveal that youth engaged with the Nevada 4-H Program are reporting high levels of positive engagement and skill development throughout their participation in 4-H. These results are especially promising during the COVID-19 pandemic. Youth participating in Nevada 4-H indicate that they are developing character, growth mindset, persistence, decision making and ethics skills, all of which are important for academic and workplace success. Nevada 4-H participants show positive skill and relationship development despite the COVID-19 pandemic, which is perceived to put youth at a higher risk for adverse psychosocial effects (Morefield & Fabregas Janeiro, 2021). These findings also confirm that Nevada 4-H participants can grow positive relationships with caring adults in a safe, inclusive and engaging environment. Creating positive relationships with caring adults and thriving in supportive environments can be a buffer to stress and trauma youth may be experiencing (Ludy-Dobson & Perry, 2010). 4-H has the unique opportunity to continue to champion and facilitate positive youth development opportunities that promote youth well-being, a sense of purpose and identity, during and after the pandemic (Arnold & Rennekamp, 2021).

Limitations

Limitations to the survey included: restrictions stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, which limited survey administration options; the self-reported nature of the data; lower response rates than previous years; and a nonrepresentative sample of the greater Nevada 4-H population.

For the complete report with tables, graphs, and Appendixes, use the link below to download the PDF version.

Maio, H., Chvilicek, S., Luckey, B., Evans, W., Stark, C., Chichester, L., Baker-Tingey, J. 2021, Nevada 4-H Annual Survey Summary Report - 2020, Extension, University of Nevada, Reno, FS-21-94
 

Also of Interest:

 
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Haack-Damon, K. 2022, Extension, University of Nevada, Forms
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S. Chvilicek, C. Stark, Horse Leaders' Council 2022, University of Nevada, Reno Extension, 4-H Forms
General Rules and Regulations for Washoe County 4-H Livestock Members
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S. Chvilicek, C. Stark, Washoe County 4-H Livestock Leaders' Council 2022, University of Nevada, Reno Extension, 4-H Forms
General Rules and Regulations for Washoe County 4-H Small Animal Members
Form for acknowledging the Rules and Regulations governing Washoe County 4-H Small Animal projects. Signatures required.
S. Chvilicek, C.Stark, Washoe County 4-H Small Animal Club Leaders' Council 2022, University of Nevada, Reno Extension, 4-H Forms
Home Arts and Sciences Commitment to Excellence
Form attesting to a 4-H member's commitment to excellence for his Home Arts and Science project. Signatures required.
S. Chvilicek, C. Stark, Leaders' Council 2022, University of Nevada, Reno Extension, 4-H Forms