Powell, A., Bennett, N., & Lamm, K. (2021). Expanding 4-H alumni life perspectives: An experiential and programmatic evaluation. Journal of Agricultural Education, 62(2), 185-200. http://doi.org/10.5032/jae.2021.02185

Involvement with the 4-H program during youth has been empirically shown to have positive effects on
participants and to influence their life perspectives and career development. The activities offered
within 4-H allow individuals to build relationships with peers and mentors, develop life and leadership
skills, and create a positive self-concept. The focus of this study was to identify key touchstones which
influenced 4-H alumni life perspectives and inform program development to ensure individuals are
exposed to these activities during their 4-H involvement. Although numerous studies have examined
the positive outcomes of 4-H programming, limited research exists identifying the context in which
these influential experiences occur. This study employed a modified Delphi approach, using an expert
panel (n = 31) to identify and generate consensus regarding 4-H experiences, events, and programs
deemed influential in expanding alumni life perspectives. Thirty-six items were retained following the
Delphi process. Two items received unanimous consensus: 1) interaction with diverse groups, and 2)
hearing dynamic speakers and listening to accomplishments they have achieved because of involvement
in 4-H. Retained items were analyzed for overarching themes using the constant comparative method
(CCM). Five themes emerged following the CCM analysis: 1) professional skills and leadership
development, 2) networking and mentorship opportunities, 3) 4-H events, programs, and camps, 4) 4-
H projects and educational opportunities, and 5) internal influences. These themes may be combined
with Robert’s (2006) model of experiential learning to identify the appropriate setting, duration, level,
and intended outcomes of 4-H programming.

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