A Qualitative Examination of Youth Voice in the Decision-Making Process within the 4-H Youth Development Program: Promoting Promising Practices in Overcoming Barriers


  • Janet Fox Louisiana State University Ag Center
  • Todd Tarifa Louisiana State University Ag Center
  • Krisanna Machtmes Louisiana State University




This paper discusses a national study designed to identify and describe obstacles to youth voice in the decision-making process in the 4-H youth development program from the perception of three distinct populations - State 4-H Program Leaders, 4-H State Youth Development Specialists, and 4-H Youth Agents/Educators. When examining these professionals’ views on the barriers affecting youth voice in the decision-making process, time and scheduling seem to consistently present the largest barrier to youth voice. Involvement in the decision-making process provides a wide range of hurdles including the opportunity structures, involvement procedures, representation and dynamics within the process. Adult power and control provides a significant hurdle to authentic engagement of youth voice in the decision-making progress. Respect barriers were described by concepts such as preconceived notions, trust and valuing input. Additional barriers were identified including organizational culture, lack of transportation, lack of knowledge/experience, lack of preparation, lack of training, fear, misguided leadership, unclear expectations, participation, staffing and lack of resources.






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