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

Research & Evaluation

Research and Practice

The University of California 4-H Youth Development Program has a unique role in youth development. The dual mission of 4-H is to engage youth in reaching their fullest potential while advancing the field of youth development. Each informs and supports the other.

  • Practice: 4-H is consistent with scientifically valid research in youth development, education, child, human, and cognitive development. 4-H is able to demonstrate, or likely to demonstrate, through research and/or evaluative data, a positive impact on youth served.

  • Research: 4-H is a contributor to research and/or the extension of knowledge in youth development.

County based academics known as 4-H Youth Development Advisors engage in various research and evaluation projects. Often they are supported by or collaborate with campus based faculty or specialists. These research and evaluation projects inform promising practice as well as contribute to the field of positive youth development and nonformal education.

We use our science base to anticipate problems and develop practical solutions in the communities we serve. By sharing our efforts with other professionals, we leverage additional resources and expand our impact.

To support the research and evaluation mission, the 4-H program extends knowledge by providing education on research-based knowledge of children, youth, families, and communities, and by publishing monographs, reports, fact sheets, and abstracts of research. The 4-H program also provides training on applied research and program evaluation. The target audience for education and training efforts conducted by the 4-H program is UC Cooperative Extension Youth Development Advisors.

Fact Sheets

In December 2016, volunteers completed a survey about perceptions of success and acceptance in the 4-H program. Below are 2 fact sheets that summarize some of the responses from the survey. 

Characteristics of Successful Youth

Volunteer Definition of Success Fact Sheet


Since 2014, 4-H academics across the country have been researching what keeps youth in the program and what factors lead to youth leaving 4-H. For the past 3 years, first-year 4-H youth and their parents or guardians have completed surveys telling us about their experience in the program. Below are some documents that summarize the results from the surveys. Stay tuned for more information from this multistate project!

Youth Responses Summary

Adult Perceptions of the 1st year in 4-H

Other Research

Monographs: This series includes in depth literature reviews of current issues in youth development (1996-2012).

Research You May Have Missed (RYMHM) provides a summary of recent research on topics of interest to youth development professionals (2007-2010).
Research You May Have Missed

Subramaniam, A., Heck, K., Carlos, R. & Junge, S. (Eds.). (2011). Advances in youth development: Research and evaluation from the University of California Cooperative Extension (2001 - 2010). University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources.

This is an edited compilation of articles featuring the outcomes of research and program evaluation in California 4-H from 2001 to 2010. The topics represented in this volume include health and healthy living, citizenship, leadership, life skills, and science education, and volunteer and staff development pertaining to these areas.

Other Reports (2003-2009).

Tufts Study (2008-2013): These files share findings from the 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development.
Tufts Study files

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