Research for the Continuous Improvement of 4-H

Worksite Location
Erie (base), Genesee, Orleans, Wyoming Counties
Faculty Sponsor
Stephen Hamilton
Field Mentors/Supervisors
Angela Northern
Project Summary and Intended Outcomes

'Research for the Continuous Improvement of 4-H' is a three-year pilot project seeking to strengthen the research basis for 4-H Youth Development programming. As the youth component of Cooperative Extension, the 4-H program is unique among youth development organizations in having direct access to research through the Land Grant University. Recognizing this valuable asset, 4-H educators and stakeholders in four Western NY counties have used published research, existing data (enrollment records), and local research (interviews, focus groups, surveys) to identify and address key issues where research can inform practice; the work and lessons learned are shared throughout the state. One such issue is how to support youth and adult volunteers during their first-year of participation so that they continue participation. (Re-enrollment after year 1 for both youth and volunteers is significantly less than for previously enrolled participants, a phenomenon seen in western NY and throughout the state.) Published studies relevant to this issue are been reviewed and summarized. Enrollment data and current enrollment trends for the counties are being analyzed. A program that interfaces with the ACCESS 4-H database is being developed by the 2012 intern to assist in greater ease in utilizing this data (for all NYS counties and will be shared nationally). Data from brief interviews conducted the past 2 years at WNY county fairs (and also the NYS Fair in 2013) will further inform action steps. Developing a networked improvement community is being considered to facilitate more effective collaboration of the counties.

Roles and Responsibilities

The student intern will:
- Contribute to research briefs summarizing published research relevant to 4-H.
- Work with educators to interview current first-year youth members, volunteer leaders, and parents of first-year members.
- Work with educators and teens to interview 'strong leaders' regarding their suggestions for what supports new leaders and volunteers.
- Assist in preparing documents that support volunteer management, utilizing identified 'best practices.'
- Assist in analyzing locally collected data.
The student intern will work most closely with an Erie County 4-H educator on special assignment with this project. The intern will participate in meetings and conference calls for planning purposes.

Some travel will be required around the district and to Cornell.

Having residency in Erie County for the summer is preferred.

Qualifications and Previous Coursework

- Must be a full time CHE freshman, sophomore or junior. Graduating seniors are not eligible. Must meet NYS Department of Motor Vehicle requirement, if applicable.
- A course in research methods and/or experience in research
- A course in adolescent deve

Benefits and Skills

- Learn how to locate, read, and summarize research studies
- Learn how to listen to different ideas and contribute to building group consensus
- Design and execute small-scale research projects in a collaborative manner
- Develop effective interviewing s