Spring 1993 // Volume 31 // Number 1 // Research in Brief // 1RIB4
Involving Minority Youth in 4-H
Extension should continue to emphasize the positive influences to participate-experience, activities, and opportunities for youth development. A conscious effort should be made to recruit minority agents and volunteer leaders to fill the void of necessary role models for minority youth.
Ohio State University studied what it takes to get and keep minority youth involved in 4-H to determine ways of reaching ethnic minority youth with 4-H educational programs. The study explored factors (both positive influences and barriers) associated with participation and nonparticipation of ethnic minority youth in the Ohio 4-H program. The study also identified the perception of minority parents about their children's participation and nonparticipation.
Focus group interviews were done in eight Ohio counties during 1990 in urban and rural areas. The population for this study consisted of ethnic minority youth and parents in 10 selected counties. The counties were those in the five Ohio Extension districts with the highest and lowest percentages of ethnic minority youth served. Two of the selected counties were unable to participate-no minority youth were enrolled in the program at the time data were collected. Youth (n=59) and parents (n=44) involved in the study represented current and former members of the Ohio 4-H program in eight counties. While the majority of youth and parents at most locations were African American, other ethnic minorities represented including Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, and Phillipino Americans. Male and female youth and adults participated in the sessions.
The researchers conducted focus group interviews in locations designated by county 4-H agents. The sessions were audiotaped and later transcribed for analysis.1 Data analysis consisted of data reduction, data display, and conclusion drawing and verification.2
Minority youth found 4-H a positive experience that was meaningful, educational, and kept them off the streets. Youth said they were most often influenced to join through a parent, relative who served as an agent, program assistant, volunteer leader, or friend. Youth cited several barriers to participation, including conflicts with other activities. Urban youth were unable to participate in activities requiring farm animals and these activities were viewed as priority activities in judging events by minority youth.
Parents expressed strong interest in the educational opportunities and activities, as well as the leadership skills developed by their children through the 4-H program. Concern was expressed about the lack of funds for supporting projects and events. Parents often developed an image of 4-H as a program for rural, white youth with farm animals. Parents felt 4-H program ads didn't generally include minority youth nor were they written for minority audiences. Parents felt the lack of minority adult role models involved in 4-H was a barrier to participation. Inconsistencies at judging events, inequitable treatment by other parents and leaders, and lack of interaction between minorities and whites were other factors parents felt hampered participation.
Summary and Conclusions
Extension should continue to emphasize the positive influences to participate-experience, activities, and opportunities for youth development. A conscious effort should be made to recruit minority agents and volunteer leaders to fill the void of necessary role models for minority youth. Project offerings should be reviewed to provide equal opportunities for nonfarm youth in competitive events with projects other than farm animals. Targeted advertising of 4-H through minority churches, newspapers, and radio stations would make minority youth and parents more aware of 4-H. Materials and activities used in some urban areas must be adapted or new material developed to address concerns and social circumstances of urban youth. Finally, a critical analysis should be made of project judging procedures and guidelines for training judges to sensitize them to fairness to all. At the same time, white youth and parents must become sensitized to the fact that the 4-H program is open to all individuals regardless of race or color.
1. R. Krueger, Focus Groups-A Practical Guide for Applied Research (Beverly Hills, California: Sage Publications, 1988).
2. M. B. Miles and M. A. Huberman, Qualitative Data Analysis (Beverly Hills, California: Sage Publications, 1987).