Donaldson, J. L., & Franck, K. L. (2020). Perceptions of youth, parents, community volunteers, corporate volunteers, and 4-H professionals about the 4-H stem career pathway model. Journal of Agricultural Education, 61(4), 15-29. http://doi.org/10.5032/jae.2020.04015
This study sought to understand the 4-H STEM Career Pathway Model program, a three-year initiative
to expose youth to college readiness skills, career readiness skills, STEM skills, and careers associated
with high-demand STEM jobs such as computer scientists and engineers. The qualitative study
described here used document reviews, observations, focus groups, and individual interviews. The
initiative was conducted in 13 states, and research participants were 4-H youth, parents, corporate
volunteers, community volunteers, and Extension 4-H professionals from a subset of those states.
Findings were described in four major themes: (a) 4-H STEM programs were perceived as successful
and engaging, yet participants described the need for more advanced experiences for youth; (b) 4-H
STEM programs required considerable investment in partnerships as well as professional and
volunteer development; (c) increased numbers of girls and minority youth were engaged in 4-H STEM
programming when local role models and local partnerships were leveraged, and (d) the 4-H STEM
Career Pathway Model needs clear concepts and definitions to be a sustainable approach in the 4-H
movement. The major recommendation is an enhanced 4-H STEM Career Pathway Model that
delineates outcomes. Additional recommendations include the need to provide effective volunteer and
professional development and the need for outreach to corporate volunteers.