Retention in a 4-H Program

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Dr. Dwight Loveday

Although our Tennessee 4-H enrollment data has been relatively steady, USDA data indicates a declining enrollment in many states. A study involving mostly western states explored some of the retention concerns for a first time 4-H member not re-enrolling. Results from the initial data collection are quite positive. The 4-Her’s overall experience was a 4.2/5.0 and 75% intended to re-enroll.

I would like to share the results of a couple of survey questions given to the youth and parents.

  • Why did you join 4-H? Top responses were:
    • try new things (58%),
    • have fun (48%),
    • family history (36%) and
    • skill building (32%).
  • What is the best part about 4-H? Top responses were:
    • project activities (34%),
    • fair/showing animals (18%),
    • new people and friendships (15%) and
    • learning opportunities (13%).

As we enter into a new program year and are planning our educational 4-H experiences, it might be good to keep in mind these responses. Youth are curious to learn new skills, eager to try new things, have new experiences and want to have fun with friends. We have been doing this for a long time in 4-H. Keep up the good work!