Exploring the Impacts of State 4-H Council Service on Career Readiness


  • Bradd LeBow Anderson 4-H Center for Youth Development, University of Missouri




state 4-H council, positive youth development, career readiness, leadership, phenomenology


The State 4-H Council of Missouri 4-H is an experiential leadership opportunity that engages youth as valued, contributing partners and ambassadors of the 4-H organization. While several state programs have a state 4-H council, there is little research regarding these councils or the impacts of state 4-H council service. This study employed a hermeneutic phenomenological approach to explore the experience of State 4-H Council service among alumni within a framework of positive youth development theory. Council membership was found to carry expectations for lasting relationships and a sense of connectedness. In the area of leadership, State 4-H Council service was found to enhance understanding, develop strategies, and foster specific skills that allowed members to utilize these abilities in the early stages of their careers.

Author Biography

Bradd LeBow Anderson, 4-H Center for Youth Development, University of Missouri

Dr. Bradd L. Anderson is an assistant extension professor in the Department of Human Development & Family Science at the University of Missouri, and serves as a state 4-H youth development specialist.  His primary research interests include contemporary positive youth development theory, youth-driven leadership, and organizational transitions towards diversity and inclusiveness. 

As a practitioner, Dr. Anderson specializes in leadership development, with expertise in communication, developmental relationships, and youth leadership councils.  He coordinated Missouri’s State 4-H Council for 13 years, provides leadership to Missouri’s statewide 4-H Teen Conference and State 4-H Public Speaking Contest events, and founded the national 4-H film festival.  Anderson’s experience in developing youth councils in rural county, statewide, garrison, and national military contexts spans over 20 years and informs his perspective as a research-practitioner. 

During Anderson’s service as Youth Development Coordinator, the 4-H/Army Youth Development Project (AYDP) was recognized by USDA Secretary Michael Johanns with the USDA Secretary’s Honor Award for 2006, the highest honor that can be bestowed by the USDA.  Anderson’s other awards include a group commendation from the United States Department of Defense for the work of the 4-H/AYDP, the Outreach & Extension Teamwork Award for his work on Missouri’s Aerospace Camp, and various individual certificates of appreciation. 


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