The Evaluation Skill-a-Thon: Evaluation Model for Meaningful Youth Engagement


  • Elizabeth Sparks Pima County Cooperative Extension; Tucson Village Farm
  • Michelle Molina Connecting Evidence
  • Natalie Shepp Pima County Cooperative Extension; Tucson Village Farm
  • Fiona Davey Pima County Cooperative Extension; Tucson Village Farm



participatory evaluation, youth engagement, Skill-a-Thon, 4-H, evaluation model


Active engagement of youth participants in the evaluation process is an increasingly sought out method, but the field can still benefit from new methods that ease youth participatory evaluation implementation. Meaningful youth engagement in the evaluation process is particularly advantageous under the 4-H thriving model because of its potential to contribute to positive youth development, foster relationship building, enhance evaluation capacity, and improve program quality through improved evaluations. This program sought to facilitate actively engaging youth in the evaluation process by breaking it up into clear and manageable steps including evaluation design, data collection, data interpretation and analysis, reporting results, and outlining programmatic change. To achieve this aim, program staff designed the Evaluation Skill-a-Thon, a set of self-paced, experiential evaluation activities at various stations through which youth participants rotate. Actively involving youth participants in the evaluation process using the Skill-a-Thon model resulted in youth being able to identify and design programmatic changes, increased participation and response rates in other evaluations, and several youth participants’ gaining an interest in evaluation and working to design evaluations in later years. The Evaluation Skill-a-Thon holds promise for actively engaging youth participants in the entire evaluation process, easy implementation, and increasing evaluation capacity.


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