Opportunities Matter: Exploring Youth’s Perspectives on Their Long-Term Participation in an Urban 4-H Youth Development Program


  • Theresa M. Ferrari Ohio State University Extension
  • Kristi S. Lekies Ohio State University Extension
  • Nate Arnett Ohio State University Extension




This article highlights a study which explored youths’ perspectives on their long-term involvement at Adventure Central, a comprehensive 4-H youth development program based at an urban park facility. We conducted four focus groups with 16 youth between the ages of 12 and 16 who had participated in the program between three and seven years. The youth experienced a wide range of opportunities including nature-related activities, jobs at park facilities, and travel. They spoke positively of their experiences and described how they benefited from their participation. Novelty, challenge, and leadership were key features of these opportunities. The youth noted the connection between learning and fun. In the process, they learned new skills, such as teamwork and public speaking, and developed personal qualities, such as responsibility, that helped them as they were growing up, transferred to other settings, and would benefit them in the future. Findings from this study suggest some clear implications for youth development professionals.






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