4-H Volunteer Attainment of Quality Positive Youth Development Practices

Sarah T. Hensley, Heather C. Kent, Brent A. Broaddus, Stacey Ellison, Shane T. Michael, Vanessa Spero


The University of Florida 4-H program evaluated volunteer perceptions of behavior adoption resulting from the completion of training focused on best practices that promote positive youth development. The evaluation effort was a quasi-experimental design that surveyed all enrolled volunteers electronically. The survey was designed to determine the types and frequency of training that 4-H volunteers participated in, their satisfaction with the training, the volunteer’s role of service, and outcomes of adopting best practices of program quality. A response rate of 27% (n = 340) provided a representative sample of the enrolled volunteers across demographic categories and geographical regions of the state. The results show that volunteers report practicing elements of positive youth development as categorized by the Essential Elements framework and that correlations between the type of training volunteers participate in and their implementation of quality practices are significant. Implications for volunteer trainings include the consideration of frequency, expanding opportunities beyond traditional delivery, and incorporating training elements that promote high-quality youth programming. This evaluation effort provides baseline data that informs future research for the Florida 4-H program.


positive youth development; volunteer; essential elements; evaluation

Full Text:



Arnold, M. (2015). Connecting the dots: Improving Extension program planning with program umbrella models. Journal of Human Sciences and Extension 3(2). www.jhseonline.com/article/view/685

Arnold, M., & Cater, M. (2011). From then to now: Emerging direction for youth program evaluation. Journal of Youth Development, 6(3), 80-92. https://doi.org/10.5195/jyd.2011.176

Dillman, D. A., Smyth, J. D., & Christian, L. M. (2014). Internet, phone, mail, and mixed-mode surveys : The tailored design method (4th ed.). Wiley. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip,uid&db=nlebk&AN=827492&site=ehost-live

Eccles, J., & Gootman, J. A. (Eds.). (2002). Community programs to promote youth development. National Academy Press.

Hager, M. & Brudney, J. (2005). Net benefits: Weighing the challenges and benefits of volunteers. Journal of Volunteer Administration 23(1), 26-31.

Kress, C. (2005). Essential Elements of positive youth development. In Strengthening positive youth development environments (pp. 20-23). University of Wisconsin Extension 4-H Program.

Lerner, R. M., & Lerner, J. V. (2013). The positive development of youth: Comprehensive findings from the 4-H study of positive youth development. National 4-H Council. https://4-h.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/4-H-Study-of-Positive-Youth-Development-Full-Report.pdf

Search Institute. (2014). The developmental relationships framework. Author. https://www.search-institute.org/developmental-relationships/developmental-relationships-framework/

DOI: https://doi.org/10.5195/jyd.2020.882

Copyright (c) 2020 Sarah T. Hensley, Heather C. Kent, Brent A. Broaddus, Stacey Ellison, Shane T. Michael, Vanessa Spero

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.