Using the 4-H Essential Elements to Evaluate Teen Programming


  • Joy R. Lile Washington State Department of Children, Youth and Families
  • Elizabeth H. Weybright Washington State University
  • Pam Watson Washington State University



adolescence, 4-H, program evaluation, needs assessment, Essential Elements


National and state trends indicate participation in 4-H programming declines throughout adolescence. Past research suggests factors that may influence recruitment and retention of teens into youth development programming. Washington State University undertook an evaluation to understand the needs and desires of teens in the 4-H program and make recommendations for improvements to recruitment and retention of teens in 4-H. The study sample was made up of 93 young people aged 12 to 19 years who participated in the online survey. Results included youth demographics, participation styles, communication preferences, youth outcomes, and feedback about program benefits and opportunities for growth. The results of this study are reviewed and framed within the 4-H Essential Elements. Recommendations are made to leverage youth voice and encourage innovation in 4-H teen programming.

Author Biographies

Joy R. Lile, Washington State Department of Children, Youth and Families

4-H Regional Specialist for Clallam, Jefferson and Kitsap Counties; Assistant Professor in the Youth and Families Unit of WSU Extension.

Elizabeth H. Weybright, Washington State University

Associate Professor of Human Development and Extension Specialist, Human Development Department, Washington State Universtiy

Pam Watson, Washington State University

4-H Faculty in Lewis County, Wa.


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