Merced 4-H Youth Development
Merced 4-H Youth Development
Merced 4-H Youth Development
University of California
Merced 4-H Youth Development

4-H Study on Positive Youth Development

4-H Study of Positive Youth Development (PYD)

Merced County was a part of this study from 2008 - 2011 with survey data collection.  Both 4-H youth and youth from WIA youth programs participated in the study. 

– A new study confirms that youth involved in 4-H are leaders, contribute to their communities and are civically engaged, which strengthens communities. The 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development (PYD) is finding that youth involved in high-quality, structured programs during out-of-school time, such as those offered by Merced County 4-H, are more likely to experience PYD.


Findings of The 4-H Study of PYD — a first-of-its-kind, longitudinal study measuring the impact personal and social factors have on youth as they develop — reveal that all youth have the capacity to thrive, regardless of where they live, their family situations, their socioeconomic status, their race or gender. Study findings also show that the quality and quantity of structured, out-of-school-time programs that youth are involved with matters. The more often youth are involved in high-quality youth development programs, the more they and their communities benefit.

Merced County 4-H has joined the national 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development. The 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development is a longitudinal study funded by the National 4-H Council. The study is entering its fifth year and is led by Richard M. Lerner and Jacqueline V. Lerner at Tufts University. Researchers are using a longitudinal study so they can look at changes within the same group of children over time. Currently, about 4,000 diverse adolescents are participating in the study. The adolescents have varying levels of involvement in community-based programs, such as 4-H, Boys & Girls Clubs, YMCA, and Scouting. Because it is a sequential longitudinal study, more youth are added each year in “waves.” 
The purpose of the research is to identify characteristics that are related to positive youth development. Some examples of these characteristics include having close friends and/or supportive in a young person’s life, receiving good grades in school, and youth having, overall, good feelings about themselves. Researchers want to understand how positive influences in the lives of youth help protect them from getting involved in "problem behaviors," such as substance abuse, unsafe sex, school failure, delinquency and violence. The study should help identify ways that schools and programs like 4-H can promote positive youth development.    

The California 4-H Youth Development Program is entering into a partnership with Tufts University to collect data from California youth for the study. Sharon Junge in the State 4-H Office and Ramona Carlos and Katherine Heck at the 4-H Center for Youth Development will serve as co-directors for California. Richard Mahacek, County Director and 4-h YD advisor, will coordinate with partners and collect data in Merced County. California 4-H will participate in 2008 by collecting data from more than 600 California youth. As data is collected and analyzed, the research team will prepare reports and recommendations for educators, youth program leaders, policy-makers, and parents. 

Use the this link to learn more about the study

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