Informing Youth Health and Well-Being Programs: A National 4-H Healthy Living Evaluation Study


  • Donna J. Peterson Mississippi State University
  • Laura H. Downey Mississippi State University
  • JoAnne Leatherman National 4-H Council



healthy living, 4-H, effective programs, environmental scan, evaluability assessment


4-H Healthy Living programs address healthy eating; physical activity; social-emotional health and well-being; alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use prevention; and injury prevention. Using the Systematic Screening and Assessment Method, this paper identified 32 4-H Healthy Living programs across the nation ready for comprehensive outcome evaluation and/or national replication based on 6 criteria. Weaknesses in an additional 78 programs that did not meet the criteria were also identified. Programs that failed to meet the criteria did so primarily because they lacked a clearly delineated theory of change or appropriate evaluation. Implications for practice include ways to strengthen program planning and use of a comprehensive evaluation framework. Specific attention is given to professional development for 4-H professionals.


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