Journal History

The National Association of Extension 4-H Agents (NAE4-HA), in cooperation with several partners, established the Journal of Youth Development - Bridging Research and Practice in 2005, with the first issue published in 2006. NAE4-HA is one of the largest professional associations for youth development workers focused on 1) professional development, 2) creating an inclusive and supportive network, and 3) integration of scholarship, research & practice.  Its current membership is over 3,500, most of whom work with Cooperative Extension systems and land grant universities.  Members come from all 50 states and several territories and work locally or at county, state, and national levels.  Many are directly related to the 4-H youth development program that serves over six million youth in virtually all counties of the United States and many territories.

NAE4-HA is an independent 501c6 but formally associated with the Cooperative Extension System of land grant universities and colleges as well as the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).  Other professional associations cover the family, community, and agricultural aspects of Extension. In addition, it is associated with the 4-H youth development program which is a multi-level public-private partnership serving over six million youth annually supported by 40,000 volunteers (see National 4-H Headquarters and the National 4-H Council websites for additional details).

The journal was created as a way to provide a refereed publication designed to enhance knowledge of matters of current interest to professionals in youth development and help accommodate the growing number of youth development professionals who sought to publish as a way to contribute to the field. The Research and Evaluation Committee of the NAE4-HA, together with active collaboration from a National Program Leader in Youth Development Research from the United States Department of Agriculture’s Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service (now known as the National Institute of Food and Agriculture) began meeting to discuss the journal in summer 2004 and plans began in earnest to formulate the journal’s structure in the fall of 2004.

The intent of the journal’s founders from the beginning was for the editorial board (now known as the Publications Committee) to be multidisciplinary, include leading scholars in the field of youth development research and practice, and include members from both within and outside of the Cooperative Extension system. Nominations for members of the first Editorial Board were solicited from the NAE4-HA Research and Evaluation Committee.