Push” and “Pull” A Qualitative Study of Factors that Contribute to Older Youth Leaving the 4-H Program


  • Mary Beth Albright Ohio State University Extension
  • Theresa M. Ferrari Ohio State University Extension




For years, 4-H has struggled with the complex issue of membership retention, especially among older youth. However, little research has been done concerning why 4-H members choose to leave the program. The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the reasons for leaving 4-H with the ultimate goal of improving retention of older members. Specific objectives of the study were to (a) explore reasons why youth chose not to re-enroll in the program, (b) identify barriers to participation, and (c) determine what conditions would facilitate participation. Focus group participants consisted of older youth (n=16) who were enrolled in 4-H in a community club in 2007 in Erie County (Ohio), but who did not re-enroll in 2008. Significant findings from the study concerning the retention of older 4-H youth were related to (a) experiences with adult leaders, (b) experiences with competition, and (c) conflicts with other activities. Recommendations for theory, research, and practice are offered.






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