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PERCEPTIONS ABOUT TRADITIONAL 4-H CLUBS AMONG THE HISPANIC
CLIENTELE IN SOUTHWEST MIAMI-DADE COUNTY
GINA MARIA CANALES HERNANDEZ
A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
MASTER OF SCIENCE
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
Gina Maria Canales Hernandez
To my parents, Eduardo Canales and Georgina Hernandez de Canales.
Many people supported me during this research. First and foremost I want to thank
God for his immense love, help, and fidelity. I give him the honor and glory of this
I would 1 like to thank my supervisory committee members (Dr. Nick Place, Dr.
Tracy Irani, Dr. Lisa Guion, and Dr. Marta Hartmann) for giving me the opportunity to
work with them, and for their great contributions to my personal and professional
development. I am especially grateful to Dr. Nick Place. Without his guidance,
perseverance, and patience this would have not been possible. I will always admire him
personally and professionally. I also want express my gratitude to the Fulbright Program,
Dr. Ed Osborne, and the faculty of Agricultural Education and Communication for
enabling me to pursue my graduate studies, and for all their support and encouragement.
I extend my thanks to all the Agricultural Education and Communication Department
staff for their help; especially Ms. Betty Yaretzki.
Further more I want to express my deep gratitude for Dr. Marilyn Norman and the
4-H1 program at the University of Florida for allowing me to work with such a wonderful
program. I want to express my deep gratitude to Dr. Hartmann and Dr. Russo for their
guidance and support through this journey. I thank all of my friends (Elena, Kelly,
Tirhani, Dilcia, Pili, and Alejandra) for the memories and friendships. Finally I would
like to thank my parents, brothers, grandparents, family, and friends for all of their love
and support from a distance.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
ACKNOWLEDGMENT S .............. .................... iv
LI ST OF T ABLE S ................. ................. viii............
AB STRAC T ................ .............. ix
1 INTRODUCTION ................. ...............1.......... ......
Background ................. ...............1.......... ......
Cooperative Extension............... ...............4
The 4-H Youth Development Program............... ...............5.
Problem Statement ................. ...............7.................
Purpose .............. ...............9.....
Obj ectives ................. ...............9.......... ......
Limitations ................. ...............10.................
Operational Definitions .............. ...............10....
Summary ................. ...............11.................
2 LITERATURE REVIEW ................. ...............12................
Youth Development ................. .......... ... .... ........ ..........1
Positive Youth Development Approach ................. .............. ......... .....14
Positive Youth Development Constructs................ ..............1
Youth Development Programs .............. ...............18....
H i spani c s................... ...... .... ... ...............19.....
Diversity and Cultural Traits ................ ...............20................
Hispanic Youth ................. ...............23.................
Youth Programs ................. ...............27.................
Learning Styles ................. ...............29.................
Cultural Barriers .............. ...............3 2....
Volunteerism .............. ...............33....
Hi story of 4-H ............_.._ ........ ...............3_ 4...
The 4-H Program ............_.._ ........ ...............35.....
The 4-H Delivery Methods............... ...............37
Urban 4-H Programming ............_..__........_......_._ ............3
The 4-H Clubs .............. ...............40....
Impact of 4-H .........__ ....__ ....___ .......__ ....._.__............41
Outreach to Hispanics............... ...............4
Summary ................. ...............46._ ___.......
3 METHODOLOGY .............. ...............47....
Research Design .............. ...............47....
Population ............. ...... ._ ...............48....
The 4-H Members............... ...............49
Parents of 4-H Members ............. ............ ...............49...
Non-4-H Members............... ...............50
Parents of non-4-H Members ................. ........................ ..............50
The 4-H Professionals .............. ...............51....
Instrumentation ............. ...... ._ ...............51....
Data Collection Procedure ............. ...... ._ ...............53....
Data Analysis............... ...............57
Sum m ary ............. ...... ._ ...............58....
4 RE SULT S .............. ...............59....
Participants .............. ...............59....
O objective 1................ .......... ...............6
4-H Members Perceptions and Impacts of 4-H ....._____ ........___ ..............61
4-H is agriculture and fun............... ...............61..
Learning about 4-H .............. ...............62....
Youth involvement ............. .....___ .....__ ............6
Development of life skills ................. .......... .. ... .._ .. .............. ...64
Start small, offer diversity, recognition and have a good leader .................. 66
Join our club!i Its fun and we accept everyone ....._____ ...... ......_........68
Parents of 4-H Members ............. ..... .__ ...... ............6
4-H is agriculture, friends and community ....._____ ........___ ..............69
Learning about 4-H .............. ...............70....
Development of life skills ................ ............. .....___.............. ...71
A good program is a collaborative effort .............. ...............73....
Obj ective 2 ............. ...... ._ ...............73....
Non-4-H Members............... ...............74
Parents of Non-4-H Members .............. ...............76....
Obj ective 3 .............. .. ..... ........__ ............8
Current Programs and Types of Clubs .............. ...............80....
4-H M embers ............. ...... ._ ...............82....
Successful 4-H Clubs .............. ...............83....
Sum m ary ............. ...... ._ ...............84....
5 DI SCUS SSION ............. ...... ._ ............... 8....
Discussion of Key Findings ............... .....___ ...............88...
4-Members and Parents of 4-H members ....._____ ...... ..___ ...........__....88
Non-4-H Members and Parents of Non-4-H Members ................. ................. .90
4-H Professionals. ............ ..... ._ ...............92...
Conclusion ............ ..... ._ ...............94...
Future Research Needed ............ ..... ._ ...............101...
Summary ............ ..... ._ ...............102...
A THE 40 DEVELOPMENTAL ASSETS .............. ...............103....
B MODERATOR' S ASSENT TEXT FOR THE FOCUS GROUPS WITH
PARTICIPANT S UNDER 18 ............ ..... .__ ....__ ........__.........104
C MODERATOR' S INTRODUCTORY TEXT FOR THE FOCUS GROUPS .........105
D FOCUS GROUP YOUTH INVOLVED IN 4-H ...._._._.. ........_._ ..............106
E FOCUS GROUP FOR PARENTS OF YOUTH INVOLVED IN 4-H ............__.....108
F FOCUS GROUP YOUTH NOT INVOLVED IN 4-H ................. ........_._._......110
G FOCUS GROUP PARENTS OF YOUTH NOT INVOLVED IN 4-H. .................112
H QUESTIONS TO GUIDE INTERVIEW OF 4-H PROFESSIONALS ................... 114
I INFORMED CONSENT ................. ...............118................
LIST OF REFERENCE S ................. ...............120................
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................. ...............132......... ......
LIST OF TABLES
2-1 Formal versus nonformal education ......................_._ ......... ...........4
3-1 Categories of question for focus groups............... ...............58.
4-1 Four-H members focus group participants ........._.._.. ....._.. ........__. .......8
4-2 Parents of 4-H members focus group participants ........._.._.. ....... .............86
4-3 Non-4-H members focus group participants .............. ...............86....
4-4 Parents of non-4-H members focus group participants.............___ ........._ ......86
4-5 Themes emerged from focus groups with 4-H members and parents of 4-H
m em bers. ............. ...............86.....
Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Master of Science
PERCEPTIONS ABOUT TRADITIONAL 4-H CLUBS AMONG THE HISPANIC
CLIENTELE IN SOUTHWEST MIAMI-DADE COUNTY
Gina Maria Canales Hernandez
Chair: Nick Place
Major Department: Agricultural Education and Communication
According to the US Census Bureau, there has been a modest increase in the non-
Hispanic White, African American and American Indian population. On the other hand,
the Hispanic population is now considered the largest minority in the country
(37 million). The 37 million does not include the estimated 3.5 million immigrants who
have illegal status. Florida' s Hispanic Population increased by 70.4% (from 1.6 billion to
2.7 million) between 1990 and 2000. In sheer numbers, Miami Dade County will
experience the largest increase, where the number of Hispanics is proj ected to increase by
nearly 900,000, followed by Orange, Hillsborough and Palm Beach counties.
Hispanic youth have become the fastest growing youth population in the country.
Hispanics make up a significant percentage of the population in many cities and will
continue to comprise larger portions of school-age and college-age populations. This
situation clearly shows the need to pay more attention to youth development programs
targeting Hispanic youth.
The purpose of this study is to describe the perception of Hispanics about 4-H
programs offered by the Cooperative Extension System in the State of Florida in
southwest Miami-Dade County. The specific objectives of the study are to:
* Describe the perceptions and impacts of traditional 4-H clubs among Hispanic
members and their parents.
* Describe the perceptions of 4-H and areas of interest of potential Hispanic members
of traditional 4-H clubs in the southwest area of Miami-Dade County.
* Describe the perceptions of 4-H professionals regarding Hispanics in Miami-Dade
The overall purpose is to increase the ability of extension to respond to the
Hispanics needs in Miami-Dade County. Miami-Dade County was intentionally selected
due to the high percentage of Hispanic population. Four focus groups were conducted
* 4-H members
* parents of 4-H members
* non-4-H members and
* parents of non-4-H members
In addition, interviews with 4-H professionals were conducted to achieve the
objectives. Overall, results provide an insight that involvement in traditional 4-H clubs
does affect the development of life skills among Hispanic youth. It also shows that non-
4-H members and parents of non-4-H members are eager to participate in 4-H programs,
Four-H has the potential to provide the Hispanic population in Miami-Dade County with
youth development programs that focus on providing youth with skills to become capable
and competent adults. Finally, results showed the need to hire more bilingual/bicultural
4-H agents, to be able to outreach Hispanics and increase their enrollment.
Population counts from the 2000 Census indicate that the Hispanic population is
the fastest growing group in the United States. The United States Hispanic population
increased from 22.4 million in 1990 to 35.3 million in 2000. These numbers indicate that
the Hispanic population grew more than 57% since 1990. This is over four times the
growth of the total population, which increased by 13% during the same period
(Alba-Johnson, 2003; Brindis, Driscoll, Biggs & Valderrama, 2002d; Chapa & De La
Rosa, 2004; Guzman, 2001).
According to Valdez (2000), this reported increase among Hispanics in the United
States does not include the immigrants who have an illegal status, who are estimated to
account for approximately 3.5 million people. Furthermore, Hispanics have continued to
grow very rapidly since the last US Census; for example, the Hispanic population grew
9.8% between 2000 and 2002, while the population as a whole only had an increase of
2.5% (Chapa & De La Rosa, 2004).
This high increase is a consequence of the high rates of immigration among
Hispanics. Immigration to the United States has been greatest among Mexican and
Central Americans fleeing the political and economic events in their countries of origin
(Ortiz, 1995; Ramirez, 2004). The increase can also be attributed to the high rates of
birth among Hispanics; in 2004 the rate was 22.9 per 1,000, which is the highest as
compared to 1 1.7 per 1,000 of non-Hispanic White and 15.7 per 1,000 of African
American (Hamilton, Ventura, Martin & Sutton, 2005).
Hispanics tend to remain heavily concentrated in certain regions of the United States,
notably the Southwest (most significantly, California), the Northeast, Florida and several
urban centers of the Midwest (Department of Health & Human Services [DHHS], 2005;
Kandel & Cromartie, 2004). Florida has the fourth largest population of Hispanics in the
United States, it has increased by 70.4% from 1.6 million to 2.7 million between 1990
and 2000 (Guzman, 2001). In sheer numbers, the top five counties in Florida with the
highest Hispanic populations are Miami-Dade with 1.3 million, Broward with 271,652,
Hillsborough with 179,692, Orange with 168,361, and Palm Beach with 140,675;
Osceola County ranks sixth with 50,727 Hispanics (US Census Bureau, 2000). These
numbers demonstrate that this nationality group is gaining ground in Florida. As result
there are several places in Miami, like Hialeah, where the maj ority of people are
Hispanic, and Spanish is the predominant spoken language.
Hispanics are a young population. The 2000 Census and the most up-to-date
proj sections indicate that Hispanics are the fastest growing youth population in the
country. Proj sections indicate that by the year 2050 Hispanics will represent 29% of the
youth population. Guzman (2001) and Chapa and De la Rosa (2004) report that more
than one third are under age 18, as compared to about one quarter of non-Hispanics; they
have much younger age distributions (median age of 26 years) compared to non-
Hispanics (median age 36 years).
This verifies that Hispanics make up a significant percentage of the population in
many cities and will continue to compromise large portions of school age and college-age
populations. This rapid growth clearly demonstrates the need to focus on youth
development programs that target youth (Alba-Johnson, 2003; Chapa & De La Rosa,
2004; Chapa & Valencia, 1993; Mehan, Hubbard & Villanueva, 1994; Valdivieso, 1990).
Currently, Hispanic youth face a number of obstacles that obstruct them from
developing competencies to succeed. The 2000 Census reported that Hispanics are the
most undereducated group in the United States (Alba-Johnson, 2003). The educational
conditions of Hispanics has been characterized by:
* Below-grade level enrollment
* High drop out rates
* High illiteracy rates
* Low number of school years completed
According to Therrien and Ramirez (2000) only 46% of Hispanics had completed
high school or had some college and only 10% had a bachelor' s degree. Unfortunately
this contributes to lower-status occupations that translate into lower income and higher
poverty rates among Hispanics.
Alba-Johnson (2003) states that in the United States, a successful young person is
expected to graduate from high school, gain the education and skills necessary to be
economically independent, and consequently contribute to society. Furthermore she
explains that, Hispanic youth are not meeting these expectations because they do not have
access to basic opportunities and resources. They encounter a number of obstacles that
get in the way of their development such as language barriers, poverty and limited access
to education (Brindis et al., 2002a). Therefore, it is essential and reasonable to take into
account the cultural differences among Hispanics and then develop appropriate youth
programs that are going to prepare youth to lead productive and healthy lives
Cooperative Extension is the world's largest nonformal educational organization
and is widely known for its achievements in addressing the concerns of a changing
society (Seevers, Graham, Gamon, & Conklin, 1997). The term extension was first used
during the late 1800's, in connection with education, to describe the methods that were
being used to disseminate knowledge from the University of Cambridge in England to the
people that lived near their surroundings (Brewer, 2001; Jones & Garforth, 1997).
According to Rivera and Gustafson (as cited in Brewer, 2001) it was after World War II
that a number of countries decided to establish extension systems. The main reason was
the considerable backlog of science and technology that had accumulated during the war
and the fact that soldiers were returning to the farms. Extension work was seen as a way
to promote economic growth and enhance the use of modern input through nonformal
In the United States extension is facilitated through the Cooperative Extension
System (CES). In 1914 the Smith Lever Act formally created the CES, and it is a
cooperative educational relationship between three different levels of government the
federal partner USDA, the state partner being land-grant universities and the county
partner being the local government. CES is a public funded, nonformal educational
system that links the education and research resources (Graham, 1994; Seevers et al.,
1997). Extension does not offer credit courses, grades or grants degrees but it enlarges
and improves the abilities of the people to adopt more appropriate practices to adjust to
changing and societal needs (Graham, 1994).
The mission of the CES has evolved over the years, but in essence it is to enable
people to improve their lives as well as their communities. Cooperative Extension
System accomplishes the mission by providing people with practical and useful education
that they can use in addressing problems they face on a daily basis (Seever et al., 1997).
For example, during World War I, extension mobilized the war food production efforts;
while food production, preservation and clothing conservation projects were stressed. In
the 1920's, the emphasis changed from production to economic concerns, farm efficiency
and the quality of life. During the great depression the farm seed and loan program was
organized and extension managed it. Moreover farm families were drawn into active
participation in county, state and national public affairs, home economics programs were
geared towards family self sufficiency. In the post depression and the new deal era,
extension became involved in the management of many federal programs such as:
Agricultural Adjustment Administration, Soil Conservation Service, Rural Electrification
Program, and the Farmer' s Home Administration (Pennsylvania State University, 2005).
The 4-H Youth Development Program
The 4-H program of the CES started as an American innovation. It originated at
the turn of the 20th century because of a vital need to improve life in the rural areas.
According to Kelsey and Heamne (as cited in Russell, 2001) the main purpose of the
program was the development of boys and girls so they would turn out to be responsible
and capable citizens. The program introduced improved methods of farming and
homemaking to youth by practical and "hands-on" learning. During the early stages of
4-H, the clubs consisted of growing comn, planting a garden, testing soil, club meetings,
and visits to club member' s plots and exhibits (National 4-H Headquarters [N4H], 2005a;
North Dakota State University [NDST] Extension Service, 2005).
The first record of any known 4-H type activity was in 1898. Liberty Hyde Bailey
of Cornell University inaugurated a system of junior naturalist brochures in rural schools
and assisted in the organization of nature study clubs. Around 1907, 4-H began to work
under the auspices of the US Department of Agriculture. In 1914 through the Smith
Lever act, Congress formed the Cooperative Extension Service, and it included boys and
girls clubs also known as 4-H clubs. In 1915 there were 4-H clubs in 47 states in the
United States. During World War I, the energies of 4-H members were devoted to
raising food. Projects consisted of raising corn and canning tomatoes. Following a
period of readjustment after World War I, 4-H club work showed continual growth. Some
states developed 4-H programs in close relationship to local school districts. Others
established clubs as community programs separate from schools (NDST Extension
As the 4-H program continued to grow through the 1920's and 1930's more
emphasis was placed on the development of the individual rather than the product
produced. The focus of the program was the development of skills in farming and
homemaking. The 1950's and 1960's saw increasing numbers of non-farm youth
enrolling in the program. In 1948, 4-H went international with the establishment of the
International Four-H Youth Exchange (IFYE), first called the Intemnational Farm Youth
Exchange (N4H, 2005b; NDST Extension Service, 2005). According to the N4H
(2005a), the program has evolved considerably through the past 100 years; 4-H offers
youth opportunities in communications, leadership, career development, livestock, home
improvement, and computer technology. Nowadays, programs are found in rural and
urban areas throughout the country, and it has been able to integrate boys and girls in
clubs and reach a diverse cultural audience.
Florida 4-H reached a total of 240,563 youth in 2004-2005 (September 1st to
August 31s~t) through their programming. Four-H serves youth from all racial, ethnic, and
economic backgrounds. Florida 4-H provides curriculum and programming in the
following areas: citizenship and civic education, communication and expressive arts,
consumer and family sciences, environmental education and earth science, healthy
lifestyle education, personal development and leadership, plant and animal, and science
and technology. In Miami-Dade 4-H reached a total of 10, 368 through organized clubs
(community /project, in school, after school, and military clubs), 4-H special
interest/short term programs and 4-H camping programs. Only 480 youth was involved
in community/proj ect clubs representing only a 4.63% of the total youth reached
(University of Florida, 2005).
Hispanics are drawn to large counties like Miami-Dade, where more jobs are
available and large numbers of Hispanics have already established their residence.
Nevertheless, some of Florida' s smaller counties will experience the greatest changes of
proportions of their population. These include Osceola, Flagler, and Lake counties,
which were expected to grow by 281%, 257% and 217% respectively, between 2000 and
2003 (Smith, 2004). The youth population (0-19) in Florida has shown increasing
growth rates over the last 30 years, from 15.5% between 1970-1980 to 25.2% between
1990 and 2000. It is projected, that the 2010 census will count 4,495,447 people ages
19 and younger, representing 23.7% of the total state population (Economic &
Demographic Research, 2006).
As previously mentioned, this increase in the youth population indicates the
increase of Hispanic youth in the State of Florida. That is why a lack of attention to
Hispanic youth development could lead to greater economic and social problems such as
decline in worker skill levels, below average income, and increases in health and social
services costs across the country. All these problems can affect the economy and
structure of today's society (Mehan et al., 1994). In order to address this issue, extension
programs in the United States should foster culturally sensitive contexts that target
specific needs of Hispanic youth, promoting more adequate strategies that help them
achieve positive development.
Reports suggest that Hispanics undergo unique educational and language
challenges (Carlo, Carranza & Zamboanga, 2002). A good example is that Hispanics are
less likely to complete high school and obtain a college degree compared to White
non-Hispanic youth (Ramirez, 2004; Therrien & Ramirez, 2000). For this reason, it is
important to consider that Hispanic youth have particular characteristics and obstacles to
overcome such as: language barriers, poverty, immigration, acculturation, low
educational attainment, low self-esteem, and mobility. These are obstacles that place
them in very disadvantaged situations (Chain, 1993; Chapa & Valencia, 1993; Hurtado
&Gauvain, 1997; Narro-Garcia, 2001; Orum, 1986; Valdivieso, 1990). Changing
demographics and distinct cultural factors relevant to Hispanics have prompted the
necessity for culture-specific programming (Zamboanga & Knoche, 2003). To work
effectively with any ethic group, educators and extension agents need to be aware of the
values in their own culture, as well as sensitivity to differences in other cultures.
Hispanics are not only growing in numbers, but they are also moving to areas not
previously populated by them. As a result extension's Spanish-speaking audience has
increased and understanding and addressing the needs of the Hispanic population is
becoming increasingly important (Watson, 2001; Zamboanga & Knoche, 2003). One of
the biggest challenges of extension is to attract and increase Hispanic clientele and to
deliver programs that are culturally sensitive (Schauber & Castania, 2001). Based on the
above, this study seeks to assess the factors that limit the extension system's ability to
meet the needs for the Hispanic population specifically in the 4-H Youth Development
program. Through examining the impact on youth of past or present programs;
interviews between 4-H professionals, youth and parents were be conducted. The goal is
to identify areas for improvements that can be translated into practical recommendations
for the UF/IFAS extension system.
This study aims to describe the perception of Hispanics about 4-H programs
offered by the Cooperative Extension System in the State of Florida in southwest Miami-
Dade County. An aim of the study is to improve and develop programs that account for
their specific needs. The overall purpose is to increase the ability of extension to respond
to the Hispanics needs in Miami-Dade County.
* To describe the perceptions and impacts of traditional 4-H clubs among Hispanic
members and their parents.
* To describe the perceptions of 4-H and areas of interest of potential Hispanic
members of traditional 4-H clubs in the southwest area of Miami-Dade County.
* To describe the perceptions of 4-H professionals regarding Hispanics in Miami-
* The diversity of Hispanics in Florida. Hispanics are not only different from the
general anglo and non-anglo population by most demographic and socioeconomic
measures, but they also differ among themselves, representing a diverse collection
of economic groups, nationalities, acculturation stages and English fluency levels.
* The resistance of Hispanics to participate in the study as a result of the current
situation of their immigration status in the United States.
* Researcher bias. She has a preconceived idea of why Hispanics do not participate in
4-H programs. In order to minimize this effect a third person, who is more
obj ective, will collaborate with the researcher on data collection and interpretation
to assure validity.
* 4-H member: a youth that is currently involved in a 4-H traditional club in Miami
Dade County. The researcher determined this for the purpose of this study.
* Traditional 4-H club: a club consisting of boys and girls from eight to 18 years of
age. The club provides the members with high ideals of civic responsibility,
community leadership, and contributed to youth and growth development. It has a
planned program that is carried out throughout the year. The researcher determined
this for the purpose of this study.
* Acculturation: is the multifaceted process of adjusting to a host culture and taking
on the values, beliefs and behaviors of that culture (Dana, 1996).
* Assimilation: is the process of social, economic, and political integration of an
ethnic minority group into mainstream society (Keefe & Padilla as cited in Shaull
& Gramann, 1998).
* Cooperative Extension Service: is a nonformal educational program implemented
in the United States, designed to help people use research-based knowledge to
improve their lives (Seevers et al., 1997).
* Cultural awareness: this requires one to understand similarities and differences
between one's own culture and other cultures. This process begins by
understanding qualities important to one's own culture (Oakland, in press).
* Focus groups: these are group interviews, fundamentally for listening to people
and learning from them. A moderator guides the interview while a small group of
six to eight participants who come from similar backgrounds discuss the topic the
interviewer raises (Morgan, 1998).
* Hispanic: person of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central or South American, or
other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race (Ramirez, 2004).
* Nonformal education: any organized educational activity outside the established
formal system: whether operating separately or as an important feature of some
broader activity. It is intended to serve identifiable learning clienteles and learning
objectives (Smith, 2005).
* Youth development: is an ongoing process in which all youth are engaged and
invested, a process where young people need to meet their basic needs and develop
competencies they consider necessary for success (Pitmann, 1991).
In summary, Hispanics in the United States and in the state of Florida are the
fastest growing minority, and they are gaining ground. As a result, their presence will
continue to be noticed, as more and more time goes by. This increase translates into an
increase in the Hispanic youth population, fifty percent of the Hispanic population in the
country is under the age of 26 and thirty five percent is younger than 18. Hispanics are
the most undereducated group in the United States. Consequently this contributes to
lower-status occupations that translate into lower income and high poverty rates. In
addition the lack of youth development programs targeted to Hispanics has hindered them
from becoming successful young adults. This chapter provided a background, and a
description of the importance and relevancy of the study as well as an overview of the
current situation of Hispanics in the United States and the need for youth development
programs targeted to Hispanic youth.
This chapter provides an overview of the available literature on youth development,
4-H, and Hispanics. Youth development was discussed to give an overall purpose and
need for youth development. Secondly, 4-H was discussed to have an idea of what it is
and what it offers youth for their development. Lastly, the researcher provides an
overview of the Hispanic culture, its demographics and the current situation in the United
Youth can be described as young people, adolescents or teenagers. Making the
transition from elementary school-age children to adolescents is a time with great change
on many levels (National Research Council & Institute of Medicine [NRCIM], 2002).
Usually the most dramatic are the biological changes linked with puberty, that include
shifts in the shape of the body, emergence of the menstrual cycle in females and onset of
fertility (Herbert & Martinez, 2001). There are also maj or social changes linked with both
school and shifts in the roles that adolescents are expected to assume as they mature. For
example, teenagers select which peer groups to j oin and how to spend their time after
school. They also make future educational and occupational plans that they pursue
through high school coursework and out-of-school activities (NRCIM, 2002). Due to the
impact that these choices and behaviors can have over their future, it is important to look
at different options on how to help youth to make this transition smoother.
Many researchers have proposed systematic ways to think about the developmental
challenges, opportunities, and risks of this period of life. The most prominent has been
Erick Erickson with his theory of human development. Erickson (1950) believed that
humans develop through a life span; he developed eight psychosocial stages that humans
encounter throughout their life. The stages identified by Erickson (Huitt, 1997; Sharkey,
1997) are as followed:
* Trust vs. mistrust
* Autonomy vs. shame and doubt
* Initiative vs. guilt
* Industry vs. inferiority
* Identity vs. role confusion
* Intimacy vs. isolation
* Generativity vs. stagnation
* Ego integrity vs. despair
Erickson was one of the first theorists that recognized that the most important force
driving human behavior and the development of personality was social interaction, and
pointed out "ego strengths develop from trusting relationships" (Coughlan & Welsh-
Breetzke, 2002; Huitt, 1997).
Pitmann (1991) defined youth development as an ongoing growth process in which
all youth are engaged and invested a process where young people need to meet their basic
needs and develop competencies that are considered necessary for success. It is a process
that automatically involves all the people around youth including family and community.
A young person is not able to build essential skills and competencies and be able to feel
safe; cared for, valued, useful, and spiritually grounded unless their family and
community provide them with the supports and opportunities they need along the way
(Center for Youth Development & Research, n.d.)
In the past youth development was focusing on problems that youth faced such as:
learning disabilities, affective disorders; antisocial conduct; low motivation and
achievement; drinking; drug use; smoking; psychological crises triggered by maturational
episodes such as puberty; and risks of neglect, abuse, and economic deprivation that is
common among certain populations (Damon, 2004; Lerner, Brentano, Dowling &
Anderson, 2002). This approach viewed the adolescence stage as a period characterized
with problems, where young people are seen as potential problems that need to be
corrected before they harm themselves or others around them (Amett, 1999; Damon,
2004; NRCIM, 2002).
During the 1990's youth development experienced a shift from the approach that
focused on the deficits of youth to an approach that emphasizes on supporting youth
before problem behaviors arise (Catalano, Berglund, Ryan, Lonczak & Hawkins, 1998,
2004; Damon 2004). Youth practitioners realized that youth have talents and needs that
communities could no longer ignore. When society fails to provide youth with support
and opportunities, as adults they may experience unemployment, have drug or alcohol
problems, commit crimes, and become a drain on community resources (National
Clearinghouse on Family & Youth [NCFY], 2006)
Positive Youth Development Approach
According to Damon (2004) and Lemner et al. (2002), this approach begins with a
vision of a fully able child eager to explore the world, gain competence, and acquire the
capacity to contribute importantly to its community. The approach recognizes the
existence of adversities and developmental challenges that may affect children in
different ways. It emphasizes that young people may appropriately be regarded as
resources to be developed rather than a problem to society (Lemner, 2005).
The focus of this approach is on providing services and opportunities to support all
young people in developing a sense of competence, usefulness, belonging, and
empowerment (DHHS, 2004). Another change brought by the positive youth
development approach was the way child-community was understood. It considers the
whole community in relation to the whole child rather than privileging any particular
interaction of capacity (Damon & Gregory, 2002). This approach perceives the child as a
full partner in the community-child relation, bearing a full share of rights and
responsibilities. It works best when all the community, including young people, are
involved in creating a variety of services and opportunities they need to develop into
happy and healthy adults (NCFY, 2006).
During the mid-1990's the approach was solidified by the work of Benson (1997)
and The Search Institute, they focused on the "developmental assets." The Search
Institute approach emphasizes the talents, energies, strengths, and constructive interests
that every young person possesses (Damon, 2004). The Search Institute's 40
developmental assets are concrete, common sense, positive experiences and qualities
essential to raising successful young people. These assets are categorized into two
groups of 20 assets (external and internal assets).
External assets are the positive experiences youth receive from the world around
them. The 20 external assets are about supporting and empowering youth, about setting
boundaries and expectations, and about positive and constructive use of their time.
Internal assets identify the characteristics and behaviors that reflect positive internal
growth and development of young people. These assets are about positive values and
identity, social competencies, and commitment to learning (Appendix A).
The fundamental idea was that, the more of these assets that you provide teenagers with;
the less likely they are to become involved in risky behaviors (Damon, 2004; Search
Currently researchers are Einding new evidence that offers an empirical
demonstration of why increasing positive youth development outcome is likely to prevent
problem behavior (Catalano et al., 2004). This evidence shows that the same risk and
protective factors that studies have shown predict problem behaviors are also important in
predicting positive outcomes (Catalano, Hawkins, Berglund, Pollard & Arthur, 2002;
Pollard, Hawkins & Arthur, 1999).
Positive Youth Development Constructs
According to Catalano et al. (2004, p. 102) The Department of Health and Human
Services Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation financed an
evaluation proj ect to look into youth development programs in the US. The proj ect
aimed at defining how youth development programs have been defined in the literature.
The proj ect also intended to locate, through a structured search, strong evaluations of
these programs and summarize the outcomes of these evaluations. As result of the study
an operational definition of youth development was created. Positive youth development
programs are approaches that seek to achieve one or more of the following obj ectives:
* Promotes bonding: bonding is an emotional attachment and commitment a child
makes to social relationships in the family, peer group, school, community, or
culture. Bonding is key to the development of the child' s capacity for motivated
behavior. Strategies promoting bonding combined with the development of skills
are an effective intervention for adolescents at risk for antisocial behavior.
* Fosters resilience: resilience is an individual's capacity for adapting to change and
to stressful events in healthy and flexible ways. It is a characteristic of youth who
when exposed to multiple risk factors, show successful responses to challenges and
use this learning to achieve successful outcomes.
* Promotes social competence: is the range of interpersonal skills that help youth
integrate feelings, thinking, and actions to achieve specific social and interpersonal
* Promotes emotional competence: is the ability to identify and respond to feelings
and emotional reactions in oneself and others. There are five elements of emotional
competence, including knowing one's emotions, managing emotions, motivating
oneself, recognizing emotions in others, and handling relationships.
* Promotes cognitive competence: it includes two overlapping but distinct
sub-constructs. The first constructt is defined as the ability to develop and apply the
cognitive skills of self-talk, the reading and interpretation of social cues, using
steps for problem-solving and decision-making, understanding the perspectives of
others, the behavioral norms, a positive attitude toward life, and self awareness.
The second constructt is related to academic and intellectual achievement. The
emphasis is on the development of core capacities including the ability to use logic,
analytic thinking, and abstract reasoning.
* Promotes behavioral competence: it refers to effective action. There are three
dimensions: nonverbal communication, verbal communication and taking action
* Promotes moral competence: is the ability to assess and respond to the ethical,
affective, or social-justice dimensions of a situation. Moral development is defined
as a multistage process through which children acquire society's standards of right
and wrong, focusing on choices made in facing moral dilemmas.
* Fosters self-determination: it is the ability to think for oneself and to take action
consistent with the thought. Self-determination is defined as the ability to plan
one's own course.
* Fosters spirituality: spirituality is defined as "relating to, consisting of or having the
nature of spirit; concerned with or affecting the soul; of from our relating to God;
of or belonging to a church or religion." Researchers have found that religiosity is
positively associated with prosocial values and behavior and negatively related to
suicide ideation and attempts, substance abuse, premature sexual involvement, and
* Fosters self-efficacy: is the perception that one can achieve desired goals through
one's own action. Self-efficacy beliefs function as an important set of proximal
determinants of human motivation, affect, and action. Some researchers document
that the stronger the perceived self-efficacy, the higher the goals people set for
themselves and the firmer their commitment to them.
* Fosters clear and positive identity: is the internal organization of a coherent sense
of self. Identity is viewed as a "self structure," an internal self-constructed,
dynamic organization of drives, abilities, beliefs, and individual history, which is
shaped by the child' s navigation of normal crises or challenges at each stage of
* Fosters belief in the future: it is the internalization of hope and optimism about
possible outcomes. Research demonstrates that positive future expectations predict
better social and emotional adjustment in school and a stronger internal locus of
* Provides recognition for positive behavior: behavior is strengthened through reward
and avoidance of punishment and loss of reward. Reinforcement affects an
individual's motivation to engage in similar behavior on the future. Social
reinforcers have maj or effects on behavior.
* Provides opportunities for prosocial involvement: is the presentation of events and
activities across different social environments that encourage youth to participate in
prosocial actions. It is especially important that youth have the opportunity for
interaction with positively oriented peers and for involvement in roles in which
they can make contributions.
* Fosters prosocial norms: this seeks to encourage youth to adopt healthy beliefs and
clear standards for behavior through a range of approaches. For example,
providing youth with data about the small numbers of people their age who use
illegal drugs, so they decide they do not need to use drugs to be "normal."
Youth Development Programs
Catalano et al. (2004, p. 115) examined twenty-five effective youth development
programs and summarized the main characteristics that made these programs successful.
According to Catalano the characteristics of an effective positive youth development
* Youth development construct: All the programs addressed at least a minimum of
five positive youth constructs. The main constructs addressed were: competence,
self-efficacy and prosocial norms.
* Measurement of positive and problem outcomes: There is a need for all positive
youth development programs to measure both types of outcomes to assess fully the
effects of these programs on youth. This integrated measurement approach will
provide the field of youth development a greater understanding of programs effects
on all important youth outcomes.
* Structured curriculum: Having a structured curriculum or structured activities is
critical for program replication. This allows researchers and youth development
professionals to go over the curriculum and choose activities that have been
successful and replicate them in different settings making the necessary
* Program frequency and duration: The most successful programs were delivered
over a period of nine months or longer. For a program to be successful and have
long term impact there is a need to have continuity and follow up with the targeted
audience. According to Knox, Bracho, Sanchez, Vasques, Hahn, Sanders and
Kampfner (2005), change takes time; building community trust is a process that can
take several years.
* Program implementation and assurance of implementation quality: implementation
fidelity has repeatedly been shown to be related to effectiveness. Among
multiyear, well funded studies, separate evaluations of implementation, in addition
to outcome evaluations are common. Effective programs consistently focus on the
quality and consistency of program implementation.
* Population served: three-fourths of the programs served African-American and
European American Caucasian youth. About half of them included Hispanics and
approximately one-third reported Asian American youth among their participants.
In order to have a successful program there is a need to understand and determine
the needs of the targeted audience. The majority of the participants (75%) in the
successful programs were African-American and European Caucasian youth.
These results indicate that youth development professional have had a better
understanding of these two distinct groups.
Population counts from the 2000 Census indicate that the Hispanic population is
the fastest growing group in the United States. The United States Hispanic population
increased from 22.4 million in 1990 to 35.3 million in 2000. These numbers indicate that
the Hispanic population grew more than 57% since 1990. This is over four times the
growth of the total population, which increased by 13% during the same period (Alba-
Johnson, 2003; Brindis et al., 2002d; Chapa & De La Rosa, 2004; Guzman, 2001).
According to Valdez (2000) this reported increase within Hispanics in the United States
does not include the immigrants that have an illegal status who are estimated to account
for approximately 3.5 million people.
Furthermore, Hispanics have continued to grow very rapidly since the last US
Census. For example, the Hispanic population grew 9.8% between 2000 and 2002, while
the population as a whole only had an increase of 2.5% (Chapa & De La Rosa, 2004).
This high increase is a consequence of the high rates of immigration among Hispanics.
Immigration to the United States has been greatest amongst Mexican and Central
Americans fleeing the political and economic events in their countries of origin (Ortiz,
1995; Ramirez, 2004). The increase can also be attributed to the high rates of birth
among Hispanics; in 2004 the rate was 22.9 per 1,000, which is the highest as compared
to 1 1.7 per 1,000 of non-Hispanic White and 15.7 per 1,000 of African-American
(Hamilton, Ventura, Martin & Sutton, 2005).
Diversity and Cultural Traits
In an attempt to provide a common denominator to a large, but diverse, population
with connection to the Spanish language or culture from Spanish-speaking countries the
US federal government in the early 1970's created the term "Hispanic" (Clutter & Nieto,
2006). In the past, Hispanics have been considered a homogeneous group. Nevertheless,
research has been able to show that Hispanics are different from the general Anglo and
non-Anglo population, as well as among themselves.
Even though this entire population is classified as Hispanic there are major ethnic
subdivisions within Hispanics, as well as differences in their socioeconomic and family
characteristics (Ortiz, 1995; Ramirez, 2004; Suarez & Ramirez, 1999; Warrix &
Bocanegra, 1998). The three main Hispanic groups in the country are: Mexican
American, Puerto Ricans and Cuban Americans.
Mexican American. They account for the 60% of the total Hispanic population.
Some are indigenous to the southwestern US and were already residing there when the
territory was taken over by the US in 1848. Since the early 1900's, immigration from
Mexico has occurred at a high rate, although the extent of immigration and the level of
acceptance of Mexican Americans by non-Hispanic white society has varied with
economic conditions. Mexican immigrants have typically been poor and from rural areas.
Puerto Ricans. They account for 10% of the total Hispanic population.
Approximately 50% of the Puerto Ricans living in the US were born in Puerto Rico.
Puerto Rican migrants have typically been young, with a very low level of literacy and
low occupational skills. In the past they have not done well economically in the US and
are very disadvantaged in comparison to other Hispanic groups (Ortiz, 1986).
Cuban American. According to Bean and Tienda (1987), the reasons why the
Cuban American population migrated to the US were completely different from those
that forced the Puerto Ricans and Mexican Americans to migrate. The Cubans who
immigrated to the US during the late 1950's and early 1960's were predominantly
professional and entrepreneurs who fled Cuba when Castro came to power. Taking into
account the Cubans background and the fact that they were granted a refugee status and
subsequently resettlement assistance by the US government, has meant that they have
done relatively well economically. Because of the nature of entry into the US, Cuban
Americans have quickly integrated into the US economic structure while still retaining a
strong Cuban American identity.
In contrast, Hispanics are united by customs, language, and values (Clutter &
Nieto, 2006; Griggs & Dunn, 1996; Valdez 2000). In order to develop effective youth
programs for Hispanics; youth professionals need to consider the needs, demographics,
common cultural characteristics and values of Hispanics. Valdez (2000), described the
most common cultural traits in order to have a better understanding of Hispanics.
Familismo. The pillar of Hispanics culture is the family, which includes the
extended family of grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins. The emphasis Hispanics
place on relatives is called familismo. The family's needs and welfare take priority over
the individual needs. The family, as a group, is usually the first and only priority.
Relationship with children. A major difference between mainstream American
and traditional Hispanic cultures is in child-rearing orientations. Children in Hispanic
families are not believed to be capable of acting independently until they reach maturity,
regardless of physical and emotional development of the child. This leads to parents
keeping the child close and attached to the family.
Machismo. This is a complex set of beliefs, attitudes, values, and behaviors, about
the role of men that is pervasive in Hispanic culture. The concept refers to the roles men
fulfill according to societal rules and how they view themselves with respect to their
environment and other people. It involves how men function as providers, protectors,
and representatives of their families to the outer world. They have obligations,
responsibilities to uphold the honor of the family members, to deal effectively with the
public sphere, and to maintain the integrity of the family unit. Machismo also refers to
having socially acceptable, manly characteristics, such as being courageous, strong, and
virile. The manly image includes being seen as the head of the household, but listening
to and being respectful of women. This traditional role provides much more freedom for
men than women with regard to sexual activity, public and social interaction.
Marianismo. This is to some extent, the female counterpart of machismo. The
term refers to an excessive sense of self-sacrifice found among traditional and less
acculturated Hispanic women: the more sacrifice, the better the mother, the better the
spouse, many times to the detriment of the woman. This cultural trait is supported by a
complex set of deep-rooted beliefs and values that determine how Hispanic women
choose to live or not to live their lives.
Etiquette. Hispanics tend toward formality in their treatment of one another. A
firm handshake is a common practice between people as a greeting and for leaving. A
hug and a kiss on the cheek are also common greeting practices between women, and
men and women who are close friends of family. The Spanish language provides forms
of formal and nonformal address (different use of "usted" vs. "tu" for the pronoun you,
polite and familiar commands, the use of titles of respect before people' s first names such
"Don" or "Dofia"). In nonformal settings, conversations are usually loud, fast, and
adorned with animated gestures and body language to better convey points. They tend to
be more relaxed and flexible about time and punctuality than US people. Among them,
not being on time is a socially acceptable behavior; they tend to be reserved about public
speaking because of their heavy foreign accent.
The 2000 Census, and the most up-to-date proj sections, indicate that Hispanics are
the fastest growing youth population in the country. Proj sections indicate that by the year
2050 Hispanics will represent 29% of the youth population. Guzman (2001) and Chapa
and De la Rosa (2004) report that more than one third are under age 18, as compared to
about one quarter of non-Hispanics; they have much younger age distributions (median
age of 26 years) compared to non-Hispanics (median age 36 years).
Hispanic youth as immigrants need to face their status as a minority group in the
US where they need to adapt to a new language, experience discrimination, and
overcome social problems that characterize them (Garcia Coll, Akerman, Cicchetti,
2000). For a better understanding of the process that Hispanics undergo to adapt to their
new environment as members of the US society, there is a need to describe acculturation
and assimilation. The distinction between these processes is based on the difference
between culture and society (Gans, 1997).
Acculturation is the degree to which Hispanics have adopted the attitudes, values
and behaviors of US society or rather an overly homogenized conception of it.
Assimilation, on the other hand, refers to the Hispanics' move out of formal and informal
ethnic associations and other social institutions into the non-ethnic equivalents accessible
to them in US society (Gans, 1997; Lara, Gamboa, Kahramanian, Morales & Hayes
Bautists, 2005; Suarez & Ramirez, 1999). According to Rosenthal (as cited in Gans,
1997), immigrants begin to acculturate fairly quickly, but they assimilate much more
slowly. Two reasons that explain why acculturation is always a faster process than
assimilation, is that American culture is a powerfully attractive force for immigrants
(children are easily enticed, particularly those coming form societies that lack their own
commercial popular cultures) and immigrants can acculturate on their own. In contrast
they cannot assimilate unless they are given permission to enter the "American" group or
institution, taking into account discrimination and other reasons, often leads to a denial of
this permission to immigrants.
Some researchers have stated that the more acculturated Hispanics are, the better
off they are for integratation into US society (assimilation). According to Lara et al.
(2005), more acculturated Hispanics have higher rate of insurance coverage and access to
health care. Nevertheless, negative effects of acculturation have been demonstrated,
acculturated Hispanic adolescents are more likely to engage in problem behaviors and
less likely to engage in health promoting behaviors than the less acculturated. Therefore,
this shows that although Hispanics deal with barriers that could be associated with
problem behaviors, there are aspects of the Hispanic culture that serve as protective
factors and contribute to a healthy lifestyle (Elbin, Sneed, Morisky, Rotheram-Borus,
Magnusson & Malotte, 2001).
Education. Hispanics have had much lower high school completion rates than
blacks and whites since the early 1970's (Williams, 2001). According to Brindis et al.
(2002a), math scores of young students in all racial and ethic groups have improved since
the early 1980's. On the other hand, reading scores have remained fairly consistent.
Between 1982 and 1999, the math scores of nine year old Hispanics rose by 4%, those of
African-Americans rose by 8% and the scores of White non-Hispanic rose by 7%
(Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics [FIFCFS], 2002). These
trends are not exclusively for younger students. They are also seen in middle and high
school students as well. Regarding college enrollment, Hispanics have one of the lowest
rates of college attendance of all cultural groups in the US (Hurtado & Gauvain, 1997;
Therrien & Ramirez, 2000). Almost half (46%) of White non-Hispanics and 39% of
African-Americans who graduated from high school attend college. In comparison, only
33% of Hispanic high school graduates go on to college (Jamieson, Curry & Martinez,
Family structure. As mentioned previously, the Hispanic culture has traditionally
stressed the importance of family, placing a high value on marriage and children and on
economic and social support among extended family members. Hispanic households are
typically larger than those of African-American and White non-Hispanics. This is true
for both married and single female-headed households. Thirty one percent of Hispanic
households contain more than five people, compared to 21% of African-American and
11% of White non-Hispanic households (US Census Bureau, 1998). According to Ehrle,
Adams and Touk (as cited in Brindis et al., 2002b), Hispanic teens are less likely than
White non-Hispanic, but twice as likely as African-American teens, to live with both
parents. Half of all Hispanics live with both biological parents, 14% live in blended or
cohabiting families and 35% live with a single parent.
Poverty. In 2000, twenty seven percent of Hispanic children under the age of 18
lived in poverty; compared to 30% of African-American children and 9% of White
non-Hispanic children (Chapa & De La Rosa, 2004; Therrien & Ramirez, 2000).
According to Hernandez (1997), poverty rates among Hispanics vary by national origin.
They range from a low of 16% for Cuban children to a high of 44% for Puerto Rican
Poor children are at greater risk than non-poor children for a host of negative
outcomes. They are more likely to perform poorly in school, to become teen parents and
to be unemployed as adults (An, Haveman & Wolfe, 1993; Duncan & Brooks-Gunn,
1997, 2000). In addition to facing greater risk of living in poverty, Hispanic children
often face additional challenges such as language, cultural barriers, and stresses of
adjusting to US society. There is a close relationship between education and poverty; the
lower rates of high school and college graduation in the Hispanic population translate
into lower incomes for Hispanic families and higher proportions of Hispanic children
living in poor families (Brindis et al., 2002c).
According to Rodriguez and Morrobel (2002), despite the proj sections mentioned
above youth development research has focused little attention to the research of Hispanic
youth development demonstrated by a review of youth development research. To
promote youth development among Hispanics, youth organizations must understand what
their needs are and what competencies youth consider necessary for success. According
to Garcia Coll et al. (2000), to implement an effective developmental program there is a
need of an understanding of culturally specific values system, which includes knowledge
about culture, family, and individual values.
Alba-Johnson (2003, p. 13) conducted a study that reported on a review of national
youth organizations serving Hispanic middle and high school students. These programs
represented a broad variety of emphases and services such as: after school, enrichment,
arts, academic, leadership, employment, and mentoring. Outcomes reported by these
organizations included: reduction of dropout rate level, higher measures, and a positive
impact in youth's self esteem, self image, and cultural awareness. Fourteen "best
practices" were identified and are described below:
*Culturally sensitive and appropriate: help Hispanic youth navigate between
different cultures and deal with challenges posed by racism and peer pressure. At
the same time these programs impart a positive view of their own culture and
respect for others. Some of the strategies/activities that they have used include:
a) promoting accommodation without assimilation-helping them fit in a new
culture without losing their cultural identity, b) providing bilingual bicultural
services, c) employing staff with relevant backgrounds, d) promoting cultural
values and cultural pride, and e) utilizing culturally driven curriculum.
* Resources to improve academic achievement: it is important to explicitly instruct
Hispanic youth in the academic skills necessary to succeed in school. Some of the
strategies/activities used are: a) providing formal instruction of academic skills
necessary to succeed in school, b) developing well-planned and organized
academic curriculum, c) providing tutoring and help with homework, and
d) working toward impacting school practices.
* Responsive to the integral part of the individual: target each individual's
characteristics, as well as the characteristics of the environments in which young
people live and function. The strategies/activities include: a) employing a holistic
approach, b) approach ng s ervi c es comprehen sively -rec ogni zi ng that contexts such
as family, schools, and community are important to consider and c) providing
multiple services-be located where other services are also offered.
* Focus on the potential of the individual, not on the failures: provide value and
support to youth by seeing and emphasizing their potential and assets. Also
recognize and provide youth with positive feedback consistently.
* Positive role models: provide youth with role models and the support and nurturing
of caring adults or older peers. Exposing youth to real and meaningful examples of
success especially when adults are successful professionals or students and share
the same ethnic background, has a positive impact on Hispanic youth. The
strategies/activities include: a) helping youth develop positive relationships with
adults, b) using real examples of success by having older peers and former
participants work as mentors and tutors and c) engage staff, guest speakers, and
parents as role models.
* Empowerment of youth and promotion of social responsibility: empower youth to
take control of their life, to be able to resist negative influences, and to make a
difference in their society. The strategies/activities include: a) placing students in
responsible roles, b) providing opportunities for youth to participate actively in
their community and c) including youth in the process of planning -youth
contribute and participate in the design of civic and community activities.
* Provision of economic assistance and opportunities for career awareness: provide
youth with economic assistance through stipends and scholarships that enable them
to assist with household expenses and provide the means to go to college. The
strategies/activities include: developing job skills and developing work and
community based proj ects.
* Well defined program with high standards and high expectations: it is necessary to
have clearly defined programs and service outcomes where the youth service
providers are aware of the goals and take steps in the development, design, and
management of their programs to measure progress. The strategies/activities
include: a) conducting rigorous evaluation, b) promoting staff development and
c) expecting participants to fulfill high standards.
* Introduction of participants to college culture: take time to advise and help youth
on issues related to college such as admissions, financial aid applications, course
requirements, and preparation courses; introducing Hispanic families and young
people to the college culture. The strategies/activities include: a) providing field
trips to colleges, b) externalizing hidden curriculum-teaching youth techniques that
are key to academic success like test-taking, note taking and study skills, and
c) promoting social and cultural capital.
* Safety and positive alternatives: create after-school opportunities for youth to
participate in art, explore careers, provide services to others, improve their
academic achievement, or simply have a place to be after school. The
strategies/activities include creating a safe environment and providing positive
alternatives and allowing for self-expression.
* Support and advocacy: emphasis on consistent, positive relationships and
interactions between youth programs and supportive adults through low youth to
staff ratios and one-on-one relationships. The strategies/activities include:
a) providing close attention and true interest, b) advocating on behalf of
participants, c) providing a continuum of care, d) creating family-like environments
and e) building bridges between cultures-acting as mediators between Hispanic
youth, their families and their schools.
* Sense of belonging: provide youth with a space where they can identify with a peer
group and be recognized by others through public markers (notebooks, distinctive
badges, or t-shirts) and promote voluntary associations where young people
voluntarily decide to participate in a program.
* Encouragement of parental involvement: parents play an important role in the
academic achievement, educational aspirations, and college planning behaviors of
youth. The strategies/activities include: a) involving parents in the education of
their children, b) maintaining close communication with parents, and
c) encouraging involvement in all program activities
* Establishment of partnerships: maintain solid connections and interactions with
schools and communities where these collaborations foster the kind of support
Hispanic youth and their families need to achieve their goals and improve their
lives. The strategies/activities include: building partnerships with colleges and
According to Dunn and Griggs (1995), learning style is the way in which each
person begins to concentrate on, process, and retain new and difficult information.
Concentration occurs differently for different people at different times. It is important to
know many things about individual's traits to determine what is most likely to trigger
each adolescent' s concentration, energize his or her processing style, and intervene to
increase long-term memory.
Research has recognized that teaching and counseling students with interventions
that are congruent with the students' learning style preferences result in their increased
academic achievement and more positive attitudes toward learning (Acharya, 2002;
Griggs & Dunn, 1996). Each cultural group tends to have some learning style elements
that distinguish it from other cultural groups. Due to this, teachers, counselors and
people who work with youth need to be aware of three critical factors: a) universal
principles of learning do exist; b) culture influences both the learning process and its
outcomes and, c) each adolescent has a unique learning style preference that affects
his/her potential for achievement.
Griggs and Dunn (1996) stated that research on the learning styles of Hispanic-
Americans in particular is limited. Within Hispanic groups, the maj ority of studies have
focused on the learning styles of Mexican-American elementary school children. Several
studies have compared various ethnic groups of students in elementary school through
college level using a measure that identifies 21 elements of learning styles grouped into
* Environmental learning style: elements include sound, temperature, design and
light. A cool temperature and formal design were identified as important elements
for Mexican-American and Puerto Rican elementary and middle school students
(Dunn, Griggs, & Price, 1993).
* Emotional learning style: elements include responsibility, structure, persistence,
and motivation. A study reported that Mexican-American third and fourth graders
were the least conforming of three ethnic groups studied.
* Sociological learning style: elements are concerned with the social pattern in which
each student learns. Learning alone (as opposed to learning in groups) was
preferred more by White non-Hispanic than by Mexican-American children.
Mexican-American students require significantly more sociological variety as
compared to African-Americans and White non-Hispanics. Mexican-American
males are authority-oriented and the females are strongly peer-oriented.
* Physiological learning style: elements relate to time of day, food and drink intake,
perception, and mobility. Puerto-Rican college students exhibit a strong preference
for learning in the late morning, afternoon and evening. The time of day
preferences of Mexican-Americans are less clear. White non-Hispanics prefer
drinking and eating snacks while learning significantly more than Mexican-
Americans. Hispanics' strongest perceptual strength is kinesthetic, this means that
they learn better through movement provided by practical and hands-on activities.
Movement includes leamn by doing, being involved in projects, discovery, role
playing, real life activities, and learning standing up or using the large arm muscles
to write as on flip chart or chalkboard.
* Psychological learning style: elements relate to global versus analytical processing.
The construct of Hield dependence/independence is a component of this learning
style. Field dependent individuals are more group oriented and cooperative and
less competitive than field independent individuals. Research generally has
indicated that Mexican-American and other minority children are more Hield
dependent than non-minority children.
Implications for counseling and teaching. Counselors, teachers and 4-H agents
can be aware that, Hispanic-Americans are a very diverse group and include distinct
subcultures that differ significantly as to custom, value and educational orientation. For
immigrant Hispanic adolescents, identity formation and individuation (process by which
social individuals become differentiated one from the other) can be especially
challenging and problematic. This is because their cultural values include strong family
loyalty and allegiance, values that are in conflict with the behavioral styles of mainstream
US adolescents who strive for self-expression and individuality. For Hispanic youth with
identity related problems, group counseling with peers who are experiencing similar
conflicts can be helpful (Griggs & Dunn, 1996).
Educators need to be aware of self-image problems of Hispanic-American students
that may result from rej section of their ethnicity and from attempts to conform to the
larger Anglo culture. To address these problems, educators can plan interventions that
acknowledge and celebrate cultural diversity when teaching and counseling Hispanic
According to Jones, Reichard and Mokhtari (2003), increasing youth awareness of
their own learning styles may be quite helpful for increasing control of their learning
habits and strategies. This should, in turn, influence their academic performance. Since
youth brings diverse personal experiences, knowledge bases, and learning styles to the
classroom, their learning needs may require a mix of teaching and advising strategies.
The best educators tend to be those who are able to use a range of teaching strategies and
who use a range of interaction styles, rather than a single, rigid approach to teaching and
learning (Darling-Hammond, 2000).
According to Zamboanga and Knoche (2003), understanding and addressing the
needs of the Latino population is becoming increasingly important as the demographics
of many communities in the US are changing. As previously mentioned, the changing
demographics and distinct cultural factors relevant to Hispanics have prompted the
necessity for culture-specific programming. In order to do this, people that aim at
working with Hispanics have to be aware of factors such as:
* Education level: Hispanics tend to have less education than other ethnic groups.
* Language: the majority of American Hispanics speak Spanish at home. Bilingual
staff are important to overcome this barrier.
* Poverty: the rate among all Hispanics was 22.6%, compared with the national
average of poverty rate 12.4 percent.
* Lack of understanding of the American free enterprise system: language and
cultural differences leave many Hispanics with little understanding of certain basic
skills and concepts to operate businesses (i.e. marketing, tax laws and record
* Misunderstanding of cultural values: cultural values like personalism, familism,
and machismo, must be understood and addressed.
According to O'Connell and O'Connell (1989) the United States is a country where
giving and volunteering is a pervasive characteristic of society. Research has shown that
the typical adult volunteer is white, middle-aged and middle-class (Safrit, King, &
Burscu, 1993). According to Peterson, Bawden, Harrel, Hill, Mincy, Nightingale, Turner
and Walker (1992), many of the critical issues facing contemporary urban communities
directly affect non-white, limited resource, and younger and older adult populations.
Consequently, Lopez and Safrit (2001) suggest that volunteer agencies and organizations
should focus their efforts to identify and locate individuals within these population
segments for targeted recruitment as program volunteers.
Fisher and Cole (as cited in Lopez & Safrit, 2001) suggested that regardless of
Hispanic American' s long tradition of involvement in volunteer groups (trade and
professional associations, and women's and men's clubs and unions) their numbers are
underrepresented in contemporary volunteer programs. Accroding to Hobbs (2000) in
order to effectively and efficiently target and engage volunteers from the Hispanic
community, volunteers programs must find ways to build relationships and establish trust
within the community.
Research shows that Hispanics volunteer, but their contributions are not reflected in
the various statistics gathered on volunteerism. Hispanics do not volunteer in the
traditional American way. Their volunteerism first takes place within the family context
and secondly in the neighborhood and church as opposed to mainstream community
based organizations. In numerous Latin American countries, volunteering is seen as an
activity carried out by the wealthy on behalf of the poor. As result of that Hispanics do
not consider their contributions as volunteering (Hobbs, 2001). The success of volunteer
agencies and organizations in recruiting and retaining Hispanic volunteers depends on the
awareness and sensitivity to the cultural differences between the American society and
History of 4-H
Through the 19th century, rural America set the social tone for the United States.
At the end of the century, young people were moving from the rural areas to the cities,
drawn by the potential for jobs. They saw no future in staying home and working in
agriculture. That is when people realized that young people needed skills to live and
work in their homesteads (N4H, 2006; Rasmussen, 1989). The first record of any known
4-H type activity was in 1898. Liberty Hyde Bailey of Cornell University inaugurated a
system of junior naturalist leaflets in rural schools and assisted in the organization of
nature study clubs (NDST Extension Service, 2005).
In 1902, a superintendent of Springfield Township Ohio rural schools named A.B.
Graham established the concepts of education in a club atmosphere in Ohio. In the early
1900's he formed clubs that elected officers, focused on specific proj ects, held meetings
and kept records for their accomplishments (N4H, 2006; Seever et al., 1997). At the
same time, researchers that worked at the experiment stations of the land-grant
institutions and the United States Department of Agriculture realized that many farmers
were not interested in the new agricultural discoveries. Nevertheless, they found that
youth were willing to "experiment" with the discoveries and then share their experiences
with adults. In a way these clubs became a way to transmit the newest agricultural
technology to the adults (Seever et al., 1997; Van Horn, Flanagan & Thomson, 1998).
The idea of rural clubs and educational demonstrations were popular and spread
across the US and by 1905 the majority of the states had rural clubs. When Congress
formed the Cooperative Extension Service with the Smith Lever Act in 1914, it included
boys and girls clubs. These clubs were soon known as 4-H clubs (N4H, 2006).
The 4-H Program
Four-H is one of the current base programs of the CES, 4-H is the youth component
that promotes the intellectual, social, emotional and physical development of the
school-age youth (Cornell University Cooperative Extension Service, 2006). The goal of
the program is to help young people become self-directing, productive, and contributing
members of society (Collins, 1986; N4H, 2006.). Four-H brings young people and their
families together with volunteers, community members, and county level staff in a
program that allows youth, families, volunteers and the community to learn and to grow.
Youth acquire life skills and are guided by a concerned adult who is a volunteer leader.
The 4-H members are actively involved in educational proj ects that are fun and that use
quality curriculum that incorporate the most up-to-date research and knowledge available
(N4H, 2006; Russell, 2001).
The 4-H program is characterized by the colors green and white. White represents
purity and high ideals and green represents growth. The program also has a pledge to
remind the 4-H' ers of the four areas that the program focuses on and emphasizes the
significance of having the ability to develop life skills "IPledge ... M~y Head to clearer
thrinkl\in. M~y Heart to greater loyalty, M~y Hands to larger service, and My Health to
better living, For My Club, my Community, my Country and my World" (N4H, 2006).
Four-H differs from other youth development organizations because of the method
it uses when working with children. While recreation is important for youth and their
development, 4-H employs recreation not as an end goal, but as one method of engaging
youth in science based education. The history of 4-H has been defined by science based,
nonformal educational activities that are family and community based. Four-H is science
based not only with regard to the substantive content of the educational activity (such as
science literacy, aerospace technology or animal science). It is also developmental
science-based in its teaching methodologies that acknowledge the developing cognitive,
behavioral, and social needs of children and adolescents. The curriculum is designed to
be age appropriate, and to build and enhance skills over multiple years of involvement
(Enfield, 2001; Van Horn et al., 1998).
According to Van Horn et al. (1998) 4-H was one of the first youth focused
organizations to utilize nonformal education as a means of reaching youth. Nonformal
education has some similarities to formal education, is based on a commitment to
learning and knowledge acquisition, and therefore relies on carefully designed and
scientifically sound curriculum and resources. Nevertheless, nonformal and formal
education differ in the fact that one approach is based in a school building and the other
one can take place anywhere in the community through clubs, camps, group meetings,
sporting or arts activities, or youth led events (Table 2-1).
Nonformal education is developmentally beneficial because it involves:
*Personal choice: Activities that encourage youth to choose their programs and
proj ects are important because they offer youth the flexibility and freedom to
explore their interests. When youth can choose the activities in which they
participate, they have opportunities to practice and develop decision-making skills.
These activities also encourage youth to clarify their interests and values.
* Experiential learning/Hands-on learning: Activities to foster the development of
knowledge and skills. This has been a key characteristic of 4-H1 programs; the
activities are designed to be engaging and interactive as they sequentially build
skill sets. This active learning helps youth build confidence in themselves and their
* Development of personal relationships: Not only among youth but also between
youth and caring adults. Through interaction with multiple caring adults outside
the family, young people receive guidance, direction, and feedback that reinforces
or builds on the effort of parents and extended family. Finally, access to multiple
adult role models in addition to parents benefits youth emotionally, scholastically
The 4-H Delivery Methods
According to the 4-H1 101 manual (N4H, 2006), 4-H1 uses a variety of methods for
reaching youth with opportunities that help them grow and develop in positive ways. A
brief description of the most commonly used methods is provided.
* Organized clubs: an organized group of youth with officers and a planned program
that is carried-on through all or several months of the year.
* Special interest, short-term, or day camps: these delivery groups are usually short-
term and consist of members organized to work on one proj ect or subj ect matter
area, which is not part of a school curriculum. They have an informal structure and
do not elect officers or plan long-term proj ects. Special interest groups meet for a
specific learning experience involving one or more sessions with direct teaching by
the 4-H1 agent, volunteers, or teachers.
* Overnight camps: this delivery is a group experience that includes the youth
participant being away from home at least one night in a resident, primitive, or
travel camping experience. They are not restricted to members of organized 4-H1
clubs. They have a clear educational or youth development purpose and meet the
* School enrichment: these programs are coordinated with schools personnel and use
selected 4-H1 learning materials as part of the school curriculum during school
hours. They may involve one or more sessions and should involve teaching and/or
other activities led by 4-H1 agents, volunteers, and teachers.
* Individual study, mentoring, or family learning: this includes individual youth who
live in remote areas or prefer to work alone on a 4-H1 proj ect experience.
Mentoring activities include individual youth and adults working closely on a
specialized proj ect or activity that is not associated with a 4-H1 unit experience.
Family learning includes an organized curriculum or experience that is delivered by
parents to only their children and family members.
Urban 4-H Programming
In the beginning, 4-H evolved as a way of involving farm youth in practical hands
on learning of agriculture and home economics subj ects relevant to their lives and
community. Taking into account the complexity of economic, social and environmental
issues 4-H has changed in several significant ways in the last 100 years (Kress, 2004). In
addition, population shifts from rural to urban areas challenge extension to expand and
redefine its traditional programs emphases to be meaningful to, and therefore supported
by, a mostly urban audience (Schaefer, Huegel & Mazzoti, 1992). As a consequence, the
need to develop urban 4-H programs has been recognized in several states.
Texas Cooperative Extension (TCE) acknowledged the need to redefine their
traditional 4-H programs in order to reach their urban population. During the 1990's
census estimates made it clear the need to examine educational programming in urban
counties. According to the census, about 50% of the 16.8 million Texas residents lived in
six counties: Bexar, Dallas, El Paso, Fort Bend, Harris, Terrant and Travis (Fehlis, 1992;
Texas Cooperative Extension, 2006). As a result the 1990 Urban Initiative was created to
provide urban counties with 4-H programs that focused on their specific needs. Currently
Travis County has the Aerospace Camp that is a week-long summer camp. The
Aerospace Camp began 12 years ago as a part of the Capital 4-H proj ect. The 4-H
Capital project is an effort to take 4-H programs to inner city youth. The main obj ective
is to take 4-H programs to youth if youth does not engage in 4-H programs.
During the school year Capital 4-H carries out after-school programs/projects and
as part of the outreach component the Aerospace Camp is held during the summer. The
Aerospace Camp is a science and technology camp that includes activities such as:
building rockets, solar cars and exploring global positioning systems. It also enables
children to explore astronomy through the star lab. Parents credit this type of program
with increasing their children's positive development with statements such as "4-H
instills a sense of integrity, self reliance and community spirit while the children are
being educated and having fun."
In order to reach urban underserved youth University of Minnesota Extension has
implemented a site-based youth development programming within the Minnesota Urban
4-H Youth Development. This type of programming is an innovative method that aims to
reach underserved youth with accessible, high quality, educational youth development
programming. Each site is a public or subsidized housing neighborhood with a
community center serving as the hosting location for the 4-H program. The site-based
youth development programs are developed from the community up rather than from the
program down. Residents of the community provide input into the program-development
process. As a result, the program reflects the community in terms of design, methods,
and curricula. (Skuza, 2004; University of Minnesota Extension, 2006). This type of
programming requires collaboration. A partnership was formed between Urban 4-H
Youth Development and housing agencies in Minneapolis and Saint Paul. The housing
sites provide facilities, volunteer, and program supplies, as well as transportation through
their extended partnerships. Through collaboration, the reach and impact of
programming is increased without duplicating programs of increasing costs (Skuza,
Cornell University Cooperative Extension in New York City (CUCE-NYC) designs
proj ects and brings together resources in their programs to develop competencies and
skills through age appropriate activities. The programs try to strengthen the foundation
skills of youth literacy, science, technology and math. It also tries to enhance the
personal development of youth and build leadership skills. The CUCE-NYC works
closely with partners to develop and implement educational programs that use innovative,
science-based and hands-on learning strategies. One of the most successful programs is
the Garden Mosaics and Urban Agriculture program. In the program, youth gain and
demonstrate horticultural science and urban agricultural skills, while conducting
environmental and community development projects that benefit their community. In
2005 more than 150 Bronx-based educators and youth learned about the Garden Mosaics
program. Youth learned about the value of community gardens as neighborhood
resources and gained an appreciation for the relationship between their local environment
and their health and well-being (Cornell University Cooperative Extension, 2005).
The 4-H Clubs
According to the 4-H1 101 manual (N4H, 2006), the 4-H1 club serves as the primary
means of delivering youth development programming in 4-H1. It has the advantage of
providing long-term involvement with the support of "caring" adults. Youth are reluctant
to take ownership in groups or establish relationships with leaders when they appear
temporary. Four-H clubs are organized and supported to be there for youth throughout
their developmental years. While the other delivery methods are effective, the more in-
depth experiences occur in and through the club.
The goals and structure of the clubs vary according to the need of the members they
serve. Some clubs offer a selection of proj ects delivered through proj ect meetings held at
times outside the clubs. Some clubs have a singular focus such as community service
clubs, or they target a specific audience such as tribal reservation clubs or after-school
clubs or home-school clubs. But there are elements and characteristics that are common
to all 4-H1 clubs and these are:
* An organized group of youth.
* A planned program that is ongoing throughout all or most of the year.
* Advised by adult staff or volunteers.
* Typically elects onfcers.
* May meet in any location.
* Includes opportunities to learn skills through a variety of proj ect experiences.
* Offers opportunities for leadership, citizenship/community service, and public
Impact of 4-H1
Many people describe what is learned in 4-H1 as 'life skills." In other words, 4-H1
teaches young people skills that will help them lead a productive life (Dubas & Snider,
1993). Parents, other adult volunteer leaders, extension agents, peers, and others
associated with 4-H1 programs have a direct impact on the youth involved. Learning life
skills through 4-H1 is a youth development process. Through learning life skills, youth are
developing in areas such as leadership, citizenship, and community service.
The impact of 4-H1 has been recognized in several studies. Ladewig and Thomas
(1987) conducted a national telephone survey of 710 former 4-H1 members, 743 former
members of other youth organizations, and 309 non-participants in youth organizations.
The goal was to compare youth organizations and their impact on youth development.
Those who had j oined 4-H1 and other youth groups were similar in personal life skills
characteristics, but different from the non-participants. Four-HI participants were found
to have significant development in the life skills areas of knowledge and self-worth.
Four-HI alumni were significantly higher in the following areas than the other youth
organizations' participant regarding: making decisions and freedom to develop skills. No
significant difference between 4-H participation and other youth organizations
participation was found in the following areas: planning activities and making a
contribution. This study suggests that participation in 4-H and other youth organizations
had a positive impact on life skill development.
Matulis, Hedges, Barrick and Smith (1988), conducted a study in Ohio, and mailed
questionnaires to a random sample of 275 4-H alumni. The questions consisted of three
areas of 4-H impact: self-awareness, career awareness, exploration, and selection; and
work competency development. Alumni credit the 4-H program with increasing their
self-awareness by identifying with the statements such as "I discovered things I enj oy
doing" and "I discovered things I did well." The impact of 4-H on career awareness,
exploration and selection was assessed through statements such as, "I learned that things I
enjoyed doing could lead to a career," and I expanded my knowledge of people or
materials available to explore careers of interest to me."
Boyd, Herring, and Briers (1992), compared 4-H and non-4-H youth in their
leadership life skills. The study sample consisted of 309 randomly selected Texas 4-H
members between the ages of 13 and 19 and 558 non-4-H youth in randomly selected
schools. The survey instrument consisted of 21 leadership life skills statements in five
measurements scales. Results of the study found 4-H club members to be significantly
higher than non-4-H youth in the level of attainment of all five of the life skills
measurement scales: leadership, communicating, working with groups, understanding
self, and making decisions.
Mead, Rodriguez, Hirschl, & Goggin (1999), conducted a two year study that
focused on understanding the impact that 4-H1 club involvement has had in New York
State. Among the findings of this study are: participation in 4-H1 has a positive effect in
the development of life skills, youth do better in school, and they are more motivated to
help others. Youth also developed skills in leadership, public speaking, self-esteem,
communication and planning, and they are able to make long-lasting friendships. They
also developed a positive relationship with caring adults such as parents, volunteers and
extension agents. The participants also indicated that their clubs provided them with a
safe environment, where they were able to spend time with their friends and work on the
different proj ects.
Thomas (2004), conducted a study to determine if Florida 4-H1 participants were
attaining positive youth development outcomes through their participation in 4-H1. Five
counties were selected and the sample youth were between the ages of 13 and 18 years.
Independent variable measured were degree of participation, non-4-H time, and
participant' s demographics. Dependent variables for measuring positive youth
development outcomes consisted of the constructs of relationships, safe environment,
belonging, service and leadership, self-development and positive identity. When
correlated to the degree of participation all the constructs showed a positive correlation
with belonging, service and leadership, self-development and positive identity showing a
significant correlation. The study showed that 4-H1 members feel that 4-H1 provides them
with positive relationships, a sense of belonging, a safe environment, an opportunity for
service and leadership, for self-development, and it creates a positive identity.
Outreach to Hispanics
As previously mentioned, Hispanics are the fastest growing ethnic group in the
United States. For this reason CES has seen the need to encourage teaching, research,
and outreach activities that can enhance the well-being and success of this population.
The need to increase Hispanic enrollment in 4-H programs has been recognized in several
Oregon State University (OSU) Extension acknowledged the need to increase
Hispanic participation and to design programs more accessible to them. In 1996 a survey
was conducted among 4-H agents in counties with the most significant Hispanic
population asking them why Hispanic youth was not participating in their programs. The
main reasons were: agents did not speak Spanish and could not communicate with them,
the lack of understanding of the culture and outreach is time consuming. These responses
were taking into account and in 1997 OSU extension funded the Oregon Outreach
Program, the program has been successful and today 13 of their 36 counties have
Hispanic outreach efforts (Oregon State University Extension Service, 2006).
The key to OSU extension's success in engaging Hispanics are that the 4-H agents
are ready to make a long-term commitment to actively participate in outreach, extension
administration' s commitment and support at all levels, and the support of the extension
audience. Another factor that has contributed to their success is staffing for outreach this
translates into hiring people who are bilingual/bicultural. Retaining the
bilingual/bicultural staff is a challenge there needs to be constant communication among
the staff, recognition by valuing their knowledge and experience and promoting a sense
University of Califomnia Cooperative Extension 4-H developed in Santa Barbara
County "Agua Pura" in collaboration with the County's Project Clean Water. This
proj ect engages Hispanics and their families in watershed and water quality issues by
integrating their needs, issues and concerns through hands-on educational experiences,
and service proj ects. The proj ect has involved approximately 3,500 youth, and it has
reinforced the sense of family by having the parents train their children in working the
land and having children train their parents in using computers. Among the
accomplishments of the proj ects are that many youth participants have gone onto college
education and elected maj ors such as business, technology and science related fields. The
participants have expressed that their involvement in the proj ect helped them developed
new work skills and self-confidence (University of Califomnia Davis, 2006).
University of Illinois Extension formed a partnership with the Hispanic/Latino
Coalition of Will and Grundy Counties (HLC) to develop programs that address the
needs of the Hispanics rather than just one proj ect with a limited audience. The HCL
agreed to co-sponsor a summer camp for Hispanic children to expose them to extension
4-H youth development programs. The camp was designed for 5 days from 9:00 a.m. to
2:30 p.m. based on a camp clover curriculum. The morning session, Monday through
Thursday, focused on three specific topics: Que Rico-Latino Cultural Arts, Food Guide
Pyramid Revisited, and Aerospace Adventures; the 4-H pledge was recited in English and
Spanish. The afternoon program consisted of a variety of physical fitness activities,
including soccer, volleyball, basketball, judo, and jump rope. The activities for Friday
included a morning session of hands-on science and physical activities, with recognition
and concluding ceremonies in the afternoon. The camp has demonstrated that extension
Youth are tested and grades
Source: Russell (2001)
programs can be effectively carried out in Hispanic communities (Farner, Cutz, Farner,
Seibold, & Abuchar, 2006)
This literature review chapter was compromised of: youth development and how it
has evolved through time and what are the main characteristics of a good youth
development program. It also describes what 4-H is, and what it can offer to youth
through their core program. Finally it provides a broad overview of the current situation
of Hispanics and especially youth in the United States. Literature documents that taking
into account Hispanics current demographic and their status as a minority is important
when developing youth development programs. Four-H could be a good alternative for
Hispanics to participate in youth development programs, since it can provide Hispanic
youth with a safe environment and allow children to socialize and get involved in
valuable after-school activities.
Table 2-1: Formal versus nonformal education
Formal Education Nonformal Education
Committed to learning Committed to learning
Carefully planned curriculum Carefully planned curriculum
Takes place in a physical building Occurs anywhere in a community
Based on standards for knowledge Based on community/youth interests and
Training professionals and volunteers
Youth accomplishments are recognized and
In this chapter, the methodology used to accomplish the obj ectives of the study will
be explained. The three objectives for this study were to describe the perceptions and
impacts of traditional 4-H clubs among Hispanic members and their parents, to describe
the perceptions of 4-H and areas of interest of potential Hispanic members of traditional
4-H clubs in the southwest area of Miami-Dade County, and to describe the perceptions
of 4-H professionals regarding Hispanics in Miami-Dade County. The research design,
target population, instrumentation, data collection, and analysis will be explained.
This is a descriptive study, in that it is describing the Hispanic 4-H members and
their parent' s perceptions regarding their participation in traditional 4-H clubs. It also
describes the perceptions of non-4-Hers and their parents regarding 4-H programs offered
in Miami-Dade County. The study also describes the perceptions of 4-H professionals
regarding Hispanics in Miami-Dade County. This study used focus groups and
interviews with 4-H agents to accomplish the obj ectives of the study.
The researcher developed four different interview guides for the focus groups and a
structured interview guide for the 4-H agents. The interview guide was designed for
current Hispanic 4-H members of a traditional 4-H club. The second interview guide was
for parents of current 4-H members of a traditional 4-H club. The third interview guide
was designed to collect information from non-4-Hers that reside in the southwest area of
Miami-Dade County. The fourth interview guide was for parents of non-4-Hers.
Given that this study was primarily descriptive, qualitative methods were utilized
for the data collection. With qualitative methods participants are interviewed and
observed in their natural settings. The researcher is able to get a firsthand look at the
settings as the participants describe them. It also allows participants to raise topics and
issues the researcher did not anticipate but yet be important to the study. The participants
are allowed to express their feelings and perspectives and clarify any information that the
researcher does not understand. Qualitative data collection provides an environment
where the researcher and the participants are directly involved and where the information
gathering techniques can become a learning process for both parties (Ary, Jacobs &
Razavieh, 2002; Myers, 1997).
The researcher accomplished objectives one and two by using focus groups. The
advantage of using focus groups is that this method possesses elements of the two maj or
techniques used by researchers to collect qualitative data that are participant observation
and individual interviews. Basically focus groups are a way of listening to people and
learning from them (Morgan, 1998). Focus groups create multiple lines of
communication; the group setting offers participants a safe environment where they can
share ideas, beliefs and attitudes among people from their same background (Madriz,
2000). The third objective was accomplished through interviews; this method is one of
the most widely used for obtaining qualitative data. Interviews enable the researcher to
gather information from the participants regarding their opinions, beliefs, and feelings
about the situation in their own words (Ary, Jacobs & Razavieh, 2002).
This research relied on a nonprobability sampling technique called purposive
sampling, where the researcher selected the participants based on the obj ectives of the
study and the potential contributions of the participants. This study consisted of five
populations of participants: a) 4-H members of a traditional 4-H club in Miami-Dade
County, b) parents of current 4-H members of a traditional 4-H club in Miami-Dade
County, c) non-4-Hers of the southwest area of Miami-Dade County, d) parents of non-4-
Hers of the southwest area of Miami-Dade County and e) 4-H professionals of Miami-
Dade County. The researcher purposely selected the southwest area of Miami-Dade
County because of the high concentration of Hispanics in that area.
The 4-H Members
The participants for this focus group were recruited by contacting the 4-H agent in
Miami-Dade County. The agent and the researcher worked closely to select a club that
primarily consisted of Hispanics. Due to the low participation of Hispanics in traditional
4-H clubs in Miami-Dade County, the researcher was not able to work with a traditional
club that was made up only of Hispanics. The club selected for the study was very
diverse and the one that had the highest Hispanic participation. Eleven members of the
club voluntarily and with their parent' s permission participated in the focus group. Out
of the eleven participants six were Hispanic, three were African-American and two were
White. Regarding gender, three were male and eight were female. The focus group was
conducted entirely in English.
Parents of 4-H Members
The participants of this focus group were recruited by contacting the 4-H agent in
Miami-Dade County. Since the parents had to be contacted to request permission for the
children to participate in the 4-H focus group, they were also presented with the idea of
participating in the study. A total of ten parents voluntarily participated in the study. Out
of the participants eight were Hispanic and two were White. More than one parental
member of two of the Hispanic 4-H members participated in the focus group. Regarding
gender five were male and five were female. The focus group was conducted in English
and Spanish because some participants were not fluent in English.
In order to recruit the participants for this focus group, the researcher contacted
various schools and Hispanic churches in the southwest area of Miami-Dade County.
Finally the researcher was able to establish rapport with a youth pastor of a well establish
Baptist Church in the area. The researcher went on to explain to the pastor the purpose of
the study and solicited support to recruit participants. The pastor contacted the principal
of a nearby school and asked if they would be willing to participate in the study. The
principal and the researcher worked closely to select the participants. A total of eleven
students voluntarily and with their parent' s permission participated in the focus group.
Out of the eleven participants all were Hispanic and regarding gender three were male
and eight were female. The focus group was conducted entirely in English.
Parents of non-4-H Members
These participants were recruited at the same time as the non-4-H members. Since
the parents had been contacted through the youth pastor and the principal of the school to
request permission for their children to participate in the non-4-H focus group, they were
presented with the idea of participating in the study. A total of nine parents voluntarily
participated in the study. All the participants were Hispanic; five were female and four
male. The focus group was conducted in English and Spanish because some participants
were not fluent in English.
The 4-H Professionals
The researcher automatically selected two 4-H professionals of Miami-Dade
County. The researcher interviewed a 4-H agent and a program assistant, and they were
both females. Regarding race one was White and the other one was Hispanic. Even
though both participants were fluent in English one interview was conducted Spanish.
The participants felt more comfortable conducting the interview in their mother tongue.
In order to collect the necessary data to complete the study, the researcher
developed an instrument for each group of participants: 4-H members, parents of 4-H
members, non-4-H members, parents of non-4-H members and 4-H agents. The
researcher developed these instruments after reviewing The Focus Group Guidebook
(Morgan, 1998). The questions for the focus groups consisted of five types of questions
as noted in Table 3-1.
The researcher developed a moderator' s assent text for focus groups with
participants under eighteen and one for the adults. The assent basically outlined the
moderator' s introduction; it gave a brief explanation of the study and established the
ground rules that were going to be followed during the session (Appendix B & C).
4-H members. The researcher developed an interview guide that collected data
from 4-H members in reference of their perceptions of 4-H, their perceptions regarding
the benefits of participating in a 4-H club as well as their perceptions on how 4-H can
increase their enrollment in 4-H clubs (Appendix D).
Parents of 4-H members. The researcher developed an interview guide that
targeted parents of 4-H members. It was used to collect information regarding the
participants overall perceptions of the program, what is effective and ineffective as well
as how they think their children benefit from the program (Appendix E).
Non-4-H members and parents of non-4-H members. The researcher developed
an interview guide for non-4-H members and another set for parents of non-4-H
members. These instruments were designed to collect information from non-4-H
members and their parents. They were utilize to gather information about their
knowledge of 4-H, their degree of desire of participating in a youth program like 4-H, as
well as, the elements a 4-H club should have in order for them to become members
(Appendix F & G).
4-H professionals. A structured interview guide was developed for 4-H
professionals. It was used to collect information about current programs they offer within
the county, perceptions regarding Hispanics, as well as the barriers and obstacles they
foresee working with this group (Appendix H).
Given that this is a qualitative study, validity, credibility, transferability and
dependability were taken into account by the researcher. Validity is defined as the extent
to which an instrument measures what it claims to measure (Ary et al., 2002). For this
purpose, a panel of two experts from the Department of Agricultural Education and
Communication and one expert from the Family, Youth and Community Sciences
Department at the University of Florida reviewed the five instruments developed.
Credibility is known to be how well the researcher has established confidence in
the findings based on the research design, participants, and context (Ary et al., 2002). In
order to enhance the credibility of the study the researcher used the method of referential
or interpretive adequacy. According to Johnson and Christensen (as cited in Ary, et al.,
2002) this method refers to "accurately portraying the degree to which the participant's
viewpoints, thoughts, feelings, intentions, and experiences are accurately understood and
portrayed." The two strategies used by the researcher to enhance referential adequacy
were the following:
Member checks. This is basically participant's feedback. At the end of the data
collection period, the researcher shared her interpretations of the data with the
participants. This enabled the researcher to clear up any miscommunication, identified
inaccuracies, and obtained additional data.
Low inference descriptors. It is the use of direct quotations that is described as
exactly what the participants said; it is extracted from the field notes. This will help the
reader experience the participant' s world.
Transferability is defined as the degree to which the results of the research can be
generalized or transferred to other contexts or settings (Trochim, 2000). The researcher
addressed this by providing great detail and description of the context of the study to
allow future researchers the ability of deciding to "transfer" the results to a different
Dependability is known as when the consistency is examined as to the extent to
which variation can be tracked and explained (Ary, et al., 2002). The researcher
addressed dependability by using a strategy audit trail. The audit trail contained the raw
data gathered through the focus groups and interviews.
Data Collection Procedure
A review of the study by the Institutional Review Board (IRB) preceded the data
collection. The IRB-02, located at the University of Florida, reviews non-medical
research proposals for ethical soundness. The IRB approved the research proposal and
assigned an IRB protocol number (2005-U-805) for the study. The researcher presented
each participant with an informed consent form letter prior to each focus group and
interview, an example is provided in Appendix I. The informed consent described the
study, the researcher, and any potential risk associated with participating in the study
would require, and they were informed there was no compensation for their participation.
Participants decided to participate voluntarily in the study and by signing the form that
they confirmed their acceptance of the terms. The data collection occurred during the
months of March, April and May 2006. The focus groups lasted from 1'/2 to 2 hours and
the interviews from 30 minutes to an hour. Formal review of the data occurred during
June through July 2006.
Prior to hosting the focus groups with 4-H1 members and their parents the researcher
worked closely with the 4-H1 agent, 4-H1 leader and parents. In order to establish trust and
rapport the researcher provided the 4-H1 agent and 4-H1 leader with a copy of the proposal
of the study outlining the study obj ectives and the procedures in addition to a copy of the
instruments. Providing the 4-H1 agent and 4-H1 leader with a copy of the proposal allowed
the researcher to establish rapport with the adults and was able to answer any questions
they had regarding the whole process before involving the children in the study.
Then the researcher proceeded to explain that the 4-H1 member focus group and the
parent' s focus group were going to be held on different days. The focus groups were
held on different days because the researcher wanted to create a more comfortable
environment for the participants. Once the adults had agreed to participate in the study
and also allow their children to do so, they continued to establish the dates and time each
focus group was going to take place. It was agreed that the 4-H1 members focus group
was going to be held after one of their monthly meetings. The parents focus groups were
held three weeks later. A pizza party was hosted before the parents focus group, this was
done so adults, children and the researcher could socialize and create a friendly and
On the days the focus groups were hosted the researcher arrived 1-1 V/2 hour ahead
of time. She met with the 4-H1 agent and 4-H1 leader to go over the process that was going
to be followed. Being there ahead of time allowed the researcher to socialize with the
children before starting the focus group. It also permitted her to determine the layout of
the equipment for the room. Prior to the club's monthly meeting the researcher was
introduced by the 4-H1 leader to the children. The researcher introduced herself and gave
the children an overview of the study and what the focus group was going to consist of.
She also made it very clear that participation was completely voluntarily and that they
could withdraw from the group at any point in time without an explanation.
Following the monthly meeting held by the 4-H1 club, only the children that wanted
to participate in the study stayed. Before starting the focus group the researcher
introduced the observer, explained to the children the dynamics of a focus group, and
informed them that they were going to be recorded. The researcher explained to the
participants that they were going to sit around a table, and that each of them was going to
pick out a nickname so they could have confidentiality while being recorded. As a result
of selecting nicknames the children were more at ease because it was clear to them that
there were no right or wrong answers and that they were not being evaluated.
Furthermore, the researcher explained to the children that they had to raise their hand and
say their nickname before answering a question. Finally the researcher explained and
went over the informed consent with the children.
The same process was followed with the focus groups of non-4-H members and
their parents. They differed in the fact that the researcher made contact with a pastor of a
church. Through the pastor the researcher was able to contact the principal of a Christian
school and coordinate a meeting. The fact that the pastor was involved in the process
gave credibility to study. Consequently, the principal and the parents were more willing
to participate and collaborate with the researcher.
Moderating the focus group. At the beginning of each focus group, the
moderator established rapport immediately by thanking the participants for coming and
letting them know that without them the study would not be possible. Once the
participants and the moderators had picked out their nicknames, the moderator went
ahead and established ground rules and showed them where the refreshments and the
restroom were. After the introductions and general purpose of the focus groups was
reiterated, warm-up questions were asked in order to facilitate discussion. As participants
became more comfortable with the discussion, the moderator became more specific.
When the stipulated time period was almost up, the moderator began to wrap up the
session by summarizing the discussion to make sure the she had interpreted correctly
what the participants had said. Finally the moderator provided a significant closing
statement, thanked the participants for their time and assured them that their responses
were going to be completely confidential. The researcher also gave participants thank
you notes and souvenirs from her home country to show them her gratitude for their
participation in the study.
The researcher coordinated and scheduled the interviews with the 4-H professionals
according to their work agenda. The interviews were done in places where both the
participants and the researcher were comfortable and at ease. This made it easier for the
researcher because it was more like a conversation rather then an interview.
The focus groups and the interviews were taped (audio only) then they where
professionally transcribed by Document Express. The researcher used domain analysis to
analyze the data. The first step that followed was the translation of conversations that
were held in Spanish to English. Subsequently the researcher read through the transcripts
and colored-coded (marker technique) each question and the discussion that was
associated with each question. The use of the marker technique allowed the researcher to
identify when there was a topic change in the transcript. Next the researcher conducted
an initial coding by generating numerous category codes reading over the transcriptions.
Since the codes are not always mutually exclusive, a piece of text might be assigned
several codes. After the initial coding the researcher moved on to focused coding by
eliminating, combining or subdividing coding categories. The researcher looked for
repeating ideas and maj or themes that connected codes. This classification was possible
with the help of the marker technique in which similar responses are highlighted with a
marker of a certain color which represents a certain code.
Once the data was coded the researcher went on to arrange the data according to the
study objectives using the cut-and-paste methodology (Stewart & Shamdasami, 1990).
This method allowed the researcher to distribute and organize the data collected under
each objective. Major themes emerged under each objective and conclusions and
recommendations were drawn from the data.
This chapter described the study in terms of the research design, the population of
the study, the instrumentation, and data analysis procedure. In summary, this is a
descriptive study that provides an insight of the perceptions and the impacts of traditional
4-H club among its members and their parents. It also describes the perceptions of 4-H
and areas of interest among potential Hispanic members, and it finally describes the
perceptions of the 4-H extension agent in Miami-Dade County regarding Hispanics. The
populations under study included 4-H members and their parents; non 4-H members and
their parents as well as the 4-H extension agents. The primary methods used to gather the
information for this study were focus groups and interviews. The results of the study
were analyzed using the domain analysis method.
Table 3-1: Categories of question for focus groups
Question Type Purpose
Opening Designed to be answered quickly and identify characteristics
participants have in common. Participants get acquainted and
Introductory Introduce the general topic of discussion and/or provide
participants with the opportunity to reflect on experiences and
their connections with the overall topic.
Transition Move the conversation toward the key questions that drive the
Key Drive the study
Ending Bring closure to the discussion; enable participants to reflect on
Source: Morgan (1998)
The purpose of this study was to describe the perceptions of Hispanic parents and
youth about 4-H programs offered by the Cooperative Extension Service Miami Dade
County. Qualitative methods, including semi-structured interviews and focus groups,
were used to collect data in answering the objectives identified in Chapter 1. The
obj ectives were to:
* Describe the perceptions and impacts of traditional 4-H clubs among Hispanic
members and their parents.
* Describe the perceptions of 4-H and areas of interest of potential Hispanic members
of 4-H clubs in the Southwest area of Miami-Dade County.
* Describe the perceptions of 4-H professionals regarding Hispanics in Miami-Dade
This study consisted of five different groups of participants (a) 4-H members,
(b) parents of 4-H members, (c) non 4-H members, (d) parents of non 4-H members, and
(e) 4-H professionals. Each group of participants had certain characteristics regarding
age, race, gender and year of involvement in 4-H.
Four focus groups were conducted; demographic data collected was limited due to
the confidential nature of the focus group environment. Tables 4-1, 4-2, 4-3 and 4-4
present the known demographic information of participants in this study. The focus
groups consisted of: a) 4-H members, b) Parents of 4-H members, c) Non 4-H members;
and d) Parents of non 4-H members. In addition, interviews were conducted with two
4-H members. Overall three males and nine females participated in the focus
group. Ages ranged from nine to 15 years of age, and their involvement in 4-H clubs
ranged from four months to eight years. Out of the eleven participants, six were
Hispanic; three were African-American, and two were White.
Parents of 4-H members. Overall five males and five females participated in the
focus group discussion. The participants involvement in the 4-H club with their children
ranged from two years to 12 years. Out of ten participants eight were Hispanic and two
Non-4-H members. Overall three males and eight females participated in the
focus group discussion. Participants' ages ranged from eight to 13 years, and school
grade ranged from third to seventh grade. All the participants in this group lived in the
southwest area of Miami-Dade County and were Hispanic.
Parents of non-4-H members. Four males and five females participated in the
focus group discussion. They all lived in the southwest area of Miami-Dade County and
4-H professionals. Two females participated in the semi-structured interviews,
one was Hispanic and the other participant was White. Both had been involved with 4-H
(as a member or professionals) for at least 15 years. One was an extension agent and the
other one was a program assistant.
Obj ective one was to describe the perceptions and impacts of traditional 4-H clubs
among Hispanics members and parents. In order to achieve the objective, two different
focus groups were conducted; one with the 4-H1 members and the second one with the
parents of 4-H1 members. In the focus group with 4-H1 members, six themes emerged, and
in the focus group with the parents of 4-H1 members four themes emerged as described in
4-H1 Members Perceptions and Impacts of 4-H1
At the beginning of the focus group discussion, participants were asked to define
4-H1. Once it was defined the researcher went on to uncover how they initially found out
and how they got involved in the 4-H1 club. Then the researcher continued to determine
what the participants thought about participating in the 4-H1 club and whether their
participation in the club had any positive or negative consequences. The participants
were also asked to reveal what they thought that their 4-H1 club needed to be a perfect 4-H1
club. Finally the participants advised the researcher on how to encourage other children
to participate in a 4-H1 club. The maj or themes that were identified among the children
were as follows:
4-H1 is agriculture and fun
When the participants were asked to describe what 4-H1 was to them, participants
linked 4-H1 to agriculture and fun activities. They also described how being in 4-H1 has
allowed them to develop an appreciation for agriculture even when they live in an urban
county. Some of the participants expressed that before j oining the 4-H1 club they had
never had contact with farm animals or agriculture. The maj ority of participants do not
live on a farm. Participating in the 4-H1 club has given them the opportunity to have
contact with nature and learn about the anatomy of animals.
Simultaneously, they have established relationships with other children and adults.
Being part of a 4-H1 club had provided the participants an opportunity to learn about other
cultures as well as given them a chance to learn about hard work and the benefits that
agriculture has for everyone. Some of the statements provided by the participants when
asked the questions "When you hear the word 4-H1 what come to mind?" and "Tell us
what you think the purpose of 4-H1 is" are as follow.
* I think about agriculture and people wanting to learn about it as well.
* At 4-H1 we meet friends, you get money and we gain an animal friend.
* I think about the unity you know how everyone comes together.
* The purpose of 4-H1 is having fun with the animals that you choose.
* The purpose of 4-H1 is that you learn a lot about the animals and the different breeds
and all that.
* I think 4-H1 is about an after-school program where you can come and you can learn
about something that you like and you want to understand more.
* The purpose of 4-H1 is for people of all around to come together and get smart about
many different things.
* 4-H1 in my opinion is for kids to have fun, stay out of trouble and for communities to
come together and for kids to learn more about their community and environment
* What I like about 4-H1 is that we get to meet new friends and their animals. You have
fun with the animals too and we get to earn money and prizes when we go to the fair.
Learning about 4-H
The participants were asked the question "Let' s talk about how you first found out
about 4-H1." The majority of the participants found out by word-of-mouth. Participants
revealed that in some cases their friends told them about the 4-H1 club. Other participants
learned about 4-H1 because their cousins or other family members were already involved
with the program. According to some participants they found out about 4-H1 by accident
because they were not seeking information about the 4-H1 program. Several participants
learned about the 4-H1 program through the county fair. They were visiting the fair and
saw children working with animals and competing for prices. This situation caught their
attention, and they decided to approach the extension agent to find out how they could be
involved in similar activities. Some of the statements provided by the participants were:
* I found out about 4-H1 'cause my cousin. My first time I went with him he took me
here (4-H1 meeting) and I just started getting involved with 4-H1.
* I found out because my sister was in 4-H1 and then she took me here (4-H1 meeting).
* My friend told me about 4-H1.
* My uncle told me about 4-H1 and I decided to participate.
* Six years ago or I should say seven, I was at the youth fair and I saw a lamb giving
birth, and I saw a bunch of kids working with animals and I wanted to know how to
do that and that's when I found my 4-H1 leader and I've been in it ever since. It's
* I found about the club when I went to the fair with my parents.
Overall the participants have been involved in the 4-H1 club from four months to
eight years and the maj ority of them were involved in at least one more program or
activity besides the 4-H1 club. Many of the participants were part of a program called
"5,000 role models of excellence" which is a dropout prevention and intervention
program for minority young boys "at-risk" of dropping out of school and/or choosing a
life of crime. It is sponsored by the Miami Dade County School Board.
Other participants were part of the "Leadership for Excellence" program in school.
Children in this program give talks to other children on how to focus on positive rather
than on negative activities. Furthermore, some participants volunteer in Marine Animal
Rescue Society (MARS), an organization dedicated to the conservation of marine animals
through, rescue, rehabilitation, research, and education.
Several participants were involved in sports, dance, and acting clubs. Other
participants have also been camp counselors, members of a judging team, and leaders of
their 4-H1 club. All the participants are actively involved in the fair activities in Miami
Dade County. The participants help each other out with their proj ects to show in the fair,
which allows them to develop teambuilding skills as well as the importance of
cooperation. Some of statements provided by the participants were as follows:
* I'm the president and I'm also in the judging team.
* I'm part of 5,000 role models of excellence.
* Next Wednesday I'm going to a club and talk about animals. I give presentations to
the different 4-H1 clubs and talk about animals. I help at the fair and I help out
basically where the Clovergirl (extension agent) needs me at that point in time.
* In school; I'm part of the Leadership for Excellence group that my counselor helps
and what we do is like we talk about kids doing bad stuff and what they should do,
the good stuff.
* I'm in a dance team in my high school and I do acting class in John Robert' s
* I'm in the soccer team at school.
* I'm an active volunteer with the Marine Animal Rescue Society, which rescues,
rehabilitates and releases whales and dolphins for the most part, but marine animals
of all sorts. Then I'm also an active volunteer of species of wildlife, which is wildlife
sanctuary, which takes in lions, tigers, bears, you name it. I'm also a camp counselor.
Development of life skills
Participants were asked to describe the benefits of their participation in 4-H1. After
analyzing the results and transcriptions the researcher identified the following benefits
Development of life skills. The maj ority agreed that 4-H1 has helped them develop
life skills. Overall the participants stated that working with the animal projects has
helped them to become more responsible, disciplined and dedicated. This is a direct
result of the fact that the participants are in charge of feeding, bathing, showing and
selling their animal each year.
Development of public speaking and leadership skills. Participants agree that
sharing information with the general public on their animal's weight gain, breed and the
different benefits of raising an animal have enhanced their skills.
Learning and accepting diversity. Participants agree that participating actively in
the 4-H club has facilitated them to be more aware and at ease with the diversity of their
community, it has also taught them about different cultures and being able to do
Establishing long lasting relationships. Some of the participants stated that in the
clubs they had really good friends and this provided them with a good supportive group.
Their friends help them solve their problems or at least give them ideas. Some of the
statements provided are as follows:
* We have all sorts of different backgrounds in this club and I love all my members and
they're all my good friends and I couldn't live a day without them.
* The benefits of 4-H is going out to show your animals and make people understand
what 4-H is.
* Sometimes you find people that will tell you that you can't do something and when
you come to 4-H there is a supportive group of people that tell you can do it, that' s
* Sometimes I can't solve my problems and here you have people that can help you
solve them, not solve them for me but they help me out.
* The advantage of 4-H for me is that it is teaching me responsibility, dedication
towards something whether it be a proj ect or an animal. Leadership skills, I'm the
president of my club and meet friends.
* 4-H allows us to take like the negative things that happen in life and learn from them.
I have a lot of friends that are starting to have sex or drugs, when I look at them I
think I'm glad I'm in 4-H cause I could be just like them.
* 4-H1 helps to discipline yourself and it also helps you become a better person because
you get to interact with people and you know it gives you strategies you can use for
the rest of your life.
* 4-H1 helps you get used to like different races and different sexual orientations,
different types of people, so it' s really cool because we have a variety of people in
this club. I'm like the only white person in here and I still don't know Spanish.
* We get to practice our public speaking skills. We also get to like communicate with
others on different other things like animal and drafting. We also get to compete like
go to other place. Like if you win at one spot, you get to onto a higher level and
practice more what you're trying to achieve.
* What I like about my proj ect. They teach me responsibility, dedication even though
they do stuff on me and hurt me from time to time its still worth it and I love every
minute spending time with them, bathing them, showing them is lots of fun. You get
to make lots of different new friends and that' s about it.
Start small, offer diversity, recognition and have a good leader
Another question focused on what would be a "perfect" or ideal 4-H1 program for
participants. In order to achieve this, participants discussed the elements and resources
needed for the "ideal" program. After analyzing the responses five principles were
identified and are described below:
* Participants pointed out that the program should offer food; that way children
would be more willing to attend.
* The availability of facilities that offer children a diverse range of animals for
projects such as, rabbits, dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs and others types of
animals. All the participants agreed that the program should offer different projects
other than their animal projects. The program should offer projects such as artistic
like drama, music performance, painting and photography, crafts and sports; that
way children who do not enj oy working with animals could still have the
opportunity to j oin 4-H1 clubs.
* Participants recognized that the program should be able to provide family friendly
environment, where parents can also be involved in the proj ects.
* In addition participants feel it is important the 4-H1 programs provide recognition of
their accomplishments at the county, state and national level.
* Finally, participants believe that an "ideal" program should have a good leader.
The characteristics of the leader should include: to be a fun person, responsible,
willing to help others and someone who understands the Hispanic culture. In
addition the extension agent should be fun, energetic, and knowledgeable.
Some of the statements provided for this question were as follows:
* For the little kids you could give them crafts to do.
* All the proj ect representative of 4-H can go all over the country meeting senators,
meeting presidents doing whatever.
* I would have like a national field day or some day that would represent the 4-H.
* I think you should have a variety of animal proj ects for the kids to choose from and I
think you should start out small because that would be your best choice because it
would be easy to maintain and to handle.
* Animals so kids can have some to choose from and small like dogs, rabbits, cats,
hamster, guinea pig, chicks, chickens anything that's small, all sorts of animals. And
a bird too.
* I think you should have a variety of activities for your kids. Say if one kid doesn't
like animals you could have drama or something. And it should be lots of fun and it
should keep kids interested, lots of animals and make sure it' s a family friendly
* The ideal thing for me would be either animal husbandry or like working with all
sorts of different animals and training them and learning about their behavior or going
around to different theaters and seeing Broadway productions and going behind the
scenes and meeting all the actors.
* She's (extension agent) constantly happy. She's brings joy to the club every time she
walks through the door.
* She' s (extension agent) funny. She's cool. She' s energetic. She has a lot of instincts.
* She loves animals, she know how to handle kids and she's a great leader.
* She's (leader) very helpful when you're in need or if something needs to get done,
she reminds you a lot. She' s very responsible and she gets the j ob done.
* She's (leader) a very wonderful woman. She's somebody you can count on, some
body you can depend on.
*She's (leader) nice and she sound funny when she talks Spanish.
Join our club! Its fun and we accept everyone
The researcher wanted to determine how the participants would promote their 4-H1
club and how would they recruit new members. The first observation made by the
participants was the importance of the parents' involvement. According to the
participants many of their friends did not participate in the club because their parents do
not have time or thought it was not worth their time (parents do not know what 4-H1
does). After reviewing the results and transcriptions four strategies were identified to
recruit new members:
* Tell other kids and friends how much fun they could have with the animals and
how much they could learn.
* It is crucial to tell kids that besides having fun and making friends they could earn
money with their 4-H1 proj ects.
* Let potential members know that 4-H1 clubs do not discriminate against race, sex,
color or religion.
* Share with them that they will be able to help others in the community and in the
Some of the statements provided by the participants were as follows:
* My friends were going to come, it' s just they have other activities to do and their
mothers and fathers didn't have time to take them.
* I told my friends to j oin, but their parents don't want to just take the time to come
over here while the kids have time to study they have to come over here and it's just
not in their budget.
* I would tell my friends that' s it fun. You get to go to the fair. You get to meet new
friends and at the end of the year you earn a lot of money.
* I would tell them 4-H1 is a wonderful experience because you learn how to speak in
public, interact with others. You get to study in your field on what you want to be or
if you're interested in animals you get to deal with them and help with them.
* You get to play with the animals and go to competitions. You get trophies and
medals and stuff.
* I would say to people that 4-H accepts everybody. You can be African American,
Hispanic, you can be from Puerto Rico, Mexico, we accept everyone. 4-H is here for
everybody and 4-H is like a club. It' s a club for helping people, for going to the fair,
helping and everything.
* I would tell people that it is very fun and rewarding. It' s something to do. It keeps
you out of trouble and it' s a great environment and besides the fact that you make a
lot of money.
Parents of 4-H Members
At the beginning of the parent' s focus group discussion, they were asked to define
4-H. Once the participants had defined it, they went on to uncover how they found out
about the program. In addition, they were also asked to describe if they thought that the
club has had an impact on their children. Finally, participants shared with the researcher
what they thought would be a "perfect" or "ideal" 4-H program and how they would
encourage other parents to get their children involved in 4-H clubs. The maj or themes
that were identified by the researcher on this group were as follows:
4-H is agriculture, friends and community
When participants were asked to describe what 4-H meant to them, most parents in
this group related 4-H programs to agriculture. According to parents, the 4-H clubs are a
place where their children learn to appreciate agriculture and animal production mainly.
After examining the result and transcriptions four maj or benefits of enrolling children in
4-H clubs were identified:
* Children are able to establish relationships with other children as well as with adults.
* Children have fun.
* Four-H' ers have a better understanding of the diversity and the needs of the people in
their community as a result of participating in community service proj ects.
* Children learn responsibility as well as the ability do team work. Parents also pointed
out that they are learning about agriculture through their children. Some parents were
not knowledgeable about agriculture but as a result of their children' s participation in
4-H they have learned of its importance.
Some of the descriptions provided by the participants are as follows:
* 4-H is about farm animals.
* I think friends and community comes to mind.
* Adventure for kids.
* Activities. Events for the kids.
* Learning about responsibility, nurturing and caring for an animal and learning all
* Teamwork and adult teaching kids and kids teaching other kids, working together and
learning responsibility, having fun.
* I learn from them, right now I'm learning a lot about baby goats and I've been college
educated as well about animals. Well, I had no idea even though we raised chickens
as a kid, but I wouldn't have known all the things I know now.
* City kids get to find out about animals when usually other kids can't find out about
cows and deer and all that. 'Cause when you're in the city you don't have much
contact with them.
Learning about 4-H
The maj ority of the parents learned about 4-H through the county fair, they visited
the fair and saw children working with animals. Other parents knew about 4-H because
they owned a ranch and had contact with the local extension office. Regarding the
accessibility of the club, the maj ority of participants said that the location was too distant
for the maj ority of the members. Nevertheless, parents expressed that driving a longer
distance was worth the benefits of participating in a 4-H club. However, some parents
expressed they had searched for a club closer to their home but were not able to find one.
Some of the statements provided by the participants are as follows:
* Last year we went to the fair and we saw how a 4-H member was taking care of
animals and my daughter wanted to do the same thing she was doing. We talked to
the 4-H leader and she told us about it, and ever since she has been involved in 4-H.
* We were at the Dade County Fair one year, we had never heard of 4-H at all and our
daughter saw a lamb being born and she saw kids in there with it and she's like I want
to do that. How come they can get to be in there and everything? So, we talked
to..... She was there and she said that we could start the following year so we started
and I guess we've been here for six or seven years. My daughter loves it.
* I own a ranch and I work with the extension agent and he told me about 4-H, that is
how we found out about it.
* We visited the Amelia Earhart park and saw a kids working with animals, we asked
the person in charge and she explained that it was a 4-H club that was getting ready
for the fair, that' s how we found out.
* For me it is very far from my home, I come from Broward, it is kind of a hike, but we
love the club so much it' s worth it.
* It' s a long way for my daughter but she likes it so we drive all the way here.
* I looked for clubs closer to home until we found this one, and we have been involved
in 4-H about five years.
Development of life skills
According to all the parents the maj or benefits of participating in 4-H has been the
acquirement of life skills. Through the proj ects, the children have learned to be
responsible and learn to work out problems with their proj ects since the kids are
responsible for looking after their animals. Furthermore, kids have also learned how to
work in a team and help each other. Some parents pointed out that their children used to
be very shy and are now more sociable, self confident and outspoken as a result of
participating in livestock shows in the county fair and other events.
More children are also exposed to real life experiences like competition; which
teaches kids how to face life situations like winning or losing and dealing with the feeling
that come with being involved in group activities and competition. Overall 4-H1 has
provided their children with skills they usually do not learn in school and it also helps
them to focus on educational activities and programs that keep them out of trouble. Some
of the statements provided by the participants are as follows:
* They are learning responsibility, nurturing and caring for animals and learning all
* They leamn teamwork and adult teaching kids and vice versa.
* They gain knowledge, not something they leamn in school, but something that could
help them in the future and teaches a lot of responsibility.
* They leamn how to deal with other people and being able to work and help each other
out and not just be an individual, they can help everybody else in the club.
* It teaches them competition, so they learn early like how to deal with it. When the
kids lose and they see someone else win, maybe their friends then they have to go to
that person and praise them for winning. That' s a big challenge.
* It is a form of premier leadership and personal growth.
* My daughter was really shy before the club, now she is not afraid to speak in public,
she has learned to be responsible because she needs to take care of her animal.
* My son is more self-confident, being able to speak in public.
* My daughter had a class and she had to stand up and speak in front of everybody and
she felt comfortable.
* The maj ority of the kids volunteer because also they realize the benefits and this
builds up confidence.
* There is acceptance in the club and I think that it teaches the kids acceptance and that
diversity is a good thing.
* It kept him out of the street, doing other things and this is a very healthy environment.
A good program is a collaborative effort
Overall participants described a good 4-H program as a collaborative effort
between extension agents, leaders and parents. The parent' s involvement is a must for
the success of the program. Parents expressed they need to encourage the children and
get involved with them in the activities so the experience is more rewarding, it should be
a family event. In addition, programs should be year round and have more community
service, so the children could give back to their communities. Some of the statements
provided by the participants are as follows:
* Without adult support and drive you don't get the kids motivated and that' s what you
* Adults need to be participating as much as the children because you're like a mentor,
you are teaching them.
* It' s something the whole family can enj oy and do and be proud of it.
* I think it' s good for the adults, right know I'm learning a lot and I've been educated, I
wouldn't have known all the things I know about goats, heifers, hogs or rabbits.
* Involved in more community service.
* Have it year around.
* More people doing community service.
Overall the children and parents had the same perceptions about 4-H and agreed
that participating in the club has impacted them in a positive way as noted earlier in Table
Obj ective two was to describe the perceptions of 4-H and areas of interest of
potential Hispanic members of traditional 4-H clubs in the southwest area of Miami-Dade
County. In order to achieve the obj ective, two different focus groups were conducted one
with the non 4-H1 members and the second one with the parents of non-4-H members.
At the outset of the focus group discussion, non-4-H members were asked about
youth programs in their community and specifically about 4-H1. The majority of the
participants were not aware of the existence of youth programs and had never heard about
4-H1. Out of the ten participants only one knew about the existence of Boys and Girls
clubs and YMCA. This participant said that he/she had noticed three different locations
in less than five miles from his/her house. Some of the statements provided by the
participants are as follows:
* I don't know what that is.
* It sounds like math or something like that.
* It sounds boring to me.
The participants were asked to provide their perceptions about 4-H1 programs, their
willingness to participate in a youth program like 4-H1, and to list the components a youth
program should have based on their experience. The maj ority of the participants said they
would participate in a 4-H1 club because it sounded like a fun activity where they could
spend time with friends and meet other people. In addition, non-4-H members said they
would like to have clubs focused on other topics like: sports, dancing and learning from
different cultures. The participants pointed out that they would like their parents to be the
4-H1 leaders, and if that was not possible they would like to see a person who was
sociable, fun and that liked kids. Some of the statements provided by participants are as
* 4-H1 sounds fun and I would like to be in it.
* I would participate in it if my parents can be a part of it, 'cause my parents are fun
and other kids can have fun with them.
* I would participate cause I can meet other kids and besides I have nothing else to do.
* I would like it because I can hang out with my friends and talk about what is going on
in our lives.
* I would like a multicultural club, like have a bunch of people hanging out from
* I would like to learn how to dance like salsa, merengue, and reggaeton different
traditional dances form other countries.
* I would like to learn how to play soccer.
* Field trips would be cool, we can learn about dolphins.
* We can learn how to make t-shirts.
* I would like to make good friendships with different people. How do you say that?
Like multiculture. Like have a bunch of different people hanging out like she said and
hanging out and going out to different places.
* I would like a club like every time we meet we would have different like a day to
learn about Colombia and their food, music, everything. They next time it would
Nica (referring to Nicaragua), another day Boricua (referring to Puerto Rico) and
stuff like that. Like we can learn about each other and like where we are from. Like
me, I was born here but dad is from Brazil and my mom is from Colombia.
* If my dad goes with me, it would be more fun.
* If my dad or mom were part of the clubs my brother and sister would be in too. My
cousins would go too.
The participants were also asked how they would recruit other Hispanic children to
join a 4-H club. According to participants the first thing that should be done is to visit
communities and to learn the interests of the kids in that society. Several kids expressed
that recruiters should go to schools, attend meetings where they can explain the 4-H
programs and discuss ideas people have about what kinds of clubs are available. All
participants said these meetings should provide food and music so people feel motivated
to attend. Kids said they would tell potential participants that being part of the club is fun
and that they can complete projects in different subj ects or topics and as an added bonus
they can earn money with their proj ects. Some of the statements provided by the
participants are as follow:
* I would go around the community and get to know the kids, like just to find out about
the people there and what they like, 'cause they wouldn't want to come if it has
nothing to do with them.
* I would tell them that it' s a lot of fun, like you go, you hang out with your friends,
you play games and like just a place to hang out and relax.
* I will tell them to come because there is like a lot of sports to do and you can get
skinny and strong.
* I will tell them about all the good and fun things we are doing out there and how
much fun it is to do what we are doing and how much we love it.
* I would tell them they are going to experience new things and meet new people, so
come and j oin the club.
* I would go to schools because like we have a lot of Hispanics, I would tell them to
like come and check it out for themselves and see if they like or not. Like everyone
could bring in like their own ideas.
* I would invite them and like have reggaeton, salsa, merengue. I'm serious I would
also have Cuban food, have a lot of food so they can feel comfortable.
Parents of Non-4-H Members
First topic discussed with parents was different youth development programs in
their communities. Overall parents identified as youth development programs: Girls and
Boys Scouts, YMCA, Sunday school, after school programs like sports, band, dancing
and acting. According to the participants the only youth programs their children attend is
Sunday Bible School and that their kids do not participate in other programs like YMCA
or Girls and Boys Scouts because they do not have time to transport them to these
programs during weekdays. The majority of kids attend after school programs and are
usually picked-up from school between 5:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. According to the parents
the teachers make sure the children do their homework and study during after school
programs. Some of the statements provided by participants are as follows:
* I've seen the sign of YMCA when I drive home.
* I know there is a club of girls scouts by my house, they always come over and sell
cookies, that's how I know.
* Well, my children go to Sunday Bible School, that' s where they learn about God and
the youth pastor talks to them about behaving good and the difference between right
* Well, I don't know if this counts, but my son stays in school until 6:00 pm, I pay
extra and he stays here and the teacher helps him out with homework and they make
sure he studies.
The maj ority of the participants had never heard of 4-H and did not know what it
was. Out of the nine participants, two knew about 4-H and they stated they did not like
that program because it was only agriculture and they were not interested in that. The
other participant stated that he knew what 4-H was but they had no interest in working
with them (Hispanics). According to him it was only about cows and they had no
intention of changing it or making a program more attractive to Hispanics.
* I don't know what that is.
* I have no idea what 4-H is.
* I have seen it at the County fair, they only have animals there.
* They only talk about cows.
The second part of the focus group was used to provide non-4-H parents a clear and
concise explanation of 4-H programs so that they could understand the diverse nature of
the programs outside agriculture. In addition, participants were asked if they would
allow and encourage their kids to become 4-H members and to provide feedback on ideas
for establishing future 4-H clubs. Overall participants believed that they would
encourage their children to participate in 4-H1 clubs. Participants expressed it was
essential that clubs meet during the weekends, since both parents on most households in
this group have full-time j obs. Regarding the content of the programs they would like
their children to learn, the parents included: how to embrace their background and
appreciate the sacrifices they have done as parents so they could have a better future.
Another aspect is to provide an environment where children get the chance to socialize
and relate to other children from different backgrounds, acquire skills such as self-
confidence, responsibility, communication and leadership. Finally the participants
pointed out that they would like a program that encourages children to attend college and
higher education since most children do not see the importance of education on their
future, and most children aspire to be professional athletes or rappers. Some of the
statements provided by the participants are as follows:
* I would like my children to participate in 4-H1.
* The program should teach children things they are not able to learn in school.
* I want my son to relate more to other children. To simply learn new things that they
don't teach in school that might help them and skills, special skills and just to have
something to do that just not being at home and watching T.V. or something like that.
* The program should be flexible, because sometimes you have problems with schedule
and/or some days you can't always go to some of the meetings.
* I would 1 like my children to appreciate all the sacrifices we have made so they could
have a better life than we did back home.
* It would nice if someone can talk to the children about going to school, right now
they just want to be professional athletes or rappers and I want them to have the
education I didn't.
Finally the participants were asked to describe what would be the best way to
inform parents about 4-H1. They were also asked to describe what would be the best place
to start a 4-H1 club in their communities so it could be accessible to most residents.
Regarding information about 4-H, several of the participants thought that flyers in
Spanish could be handed out in the grocery stores and use Spanish radio stations to
promote programs. Usually the Spanish radio stations provide the communities with
information regarding immigration, jobs and other services aimed at Hispanics. They
also mentioned that they would promote the clubs through churches; the priest or the
pastor usually makes announcements at the end of the service and encourages members
to explore this programs. Out of nine participants, two suggested offering information
through the Internet. Overall the participants agreed that they would be interested in
being a 4-H leader as long as the club met on weekends and preferably on school
grounds, churches, or on public parks. Several of them pointed that they could be 4-H
leaders as long as clubs were not only focused on agriculture. On the other hand, three
participants were open to the idea of having animal science clubs because they could
learn together with the children about agriculture. The only obstacle they saw was that
they didn't have a farm because they lived in the city. Some of the statements provided
by participants are as follows:
* I would ask the pastor of my church to encourage the community to participate in
4-H, we usually listen to him.
* Why don't you use the radio? When I go to work the radio usually is letting people
know how to deal with the immigration stuff especially right now. They also
announce different services offered to us.
* I would be a 4-H leader if the club is not about agriculture, I don't know anything
* I would not mind being a 4-H leader for an agriculture club, I could learn about it
with kids, besides I did some farming back home. The only problem I see is that we
live in the city.
* The clubs could meet at church, or we could ask the principal if we could meet here,
that way it would be accessible to all of us.
* What about the park? That would be good. The whole family can go and that way we
can get some exercise.
Obj ective three was to describe the perceptions of 4-H extension agents regarding
Hispanics in Miami-Dade County. In order to achieve the objective, interviews were
conducted with a program assistant and a 4-H extension agent.
At the time of the research there were only two 4-H agents for the entire county, in
other words they were understaffed. Overall both interviewees have been involved with
4-H over 15 years as either a 4-H member, volunteer, leader or extension agent. Both
were familiar with the 4-H culture, they are true believers that 4-H can make a difference
in a child's life; consequently they are very passionate about their work.
The researcher aimed to uncover the following information: current programs,
types of clubs, volunteer recruitment, requirements of being a 4-H leader, barriers of
working with Hispanics and alternatives on how to increase Hispanic involvement.
Current Programs and Types of Clubs
The participants indicated that the maj or programs they are currently working on in
Miami-Dade County are as follows:
* Youth leadership program: basically youth get together to plan community service
proj ects for the county.
* Youth and Governance: This is a government club, which prepares children for the
legislature experience. They meet six times in the year and conduct field trips to
* Community and Proj ect Clubs.
* Coordination of county and district events, specifically public speaking events.
* After school programs: Through a partnership with different youth organizations
such as Boy's and Girl's clubs. These include after school programs in areas 4-H
would not be able to reach.
* School enrichment programs
In Miami-Dade County four types of 4-H1 clubs are utilized:
* Community clubs: These are characterized by their geographical area and can explore
a wide variety of topics such as: clothing, clowning, rabbits, sewing, marine science,
food and nutrition, health and safety, and nutrition.
* Proj ect clubs: These focus on a specific proj ect or subj ect matter. Some topics include
marine science, animal science or shooting sports. The members are usually very
passionate about animals or shooting sports, they travel long distances for the
* After-school programs: Are usually held on a community center and meet only during
the school year.
* In-school club: These clubs are led by teachers during school hours and are only
during the school year.
Participants also elaborated on how they determine the content of their programs.
Many of them are already structured such as the school enrichment program. They follow
a guideline that is provide by the University of Florida 4-H1 program, where they have to
at least spend six hours working with the teacher and the students. In contrast the content
of the community and proj ect clubs are more flexible and most of the content depends on
the leader's initiative. Nevertheless they have certain standards they have to achieve such
as: a) apply for a club charter and on that club charter they are asked to obey by the
county, state and national policy, b) they have to do a community service proj ect and
c) the key leader has to be screened. The extension agents make sure leaders provide a
safe environment for the children that is warm and friendly to everyone. Agents also
remind leaders that in clubs all the members must have a say in the decisions, that way
the club members retain ownership of their program.
According to the participants their county is like a melting pot because they have so
much diversity among the members of the community. The participants indicated that in
Miami-Dade County at least 55% percent of the population is Hispanic, 30% is African
American, and probably less than 20% is White. When looking at those numbers, people
would assume that the Hispanic participation in 4-H would be the highest one.
According to the participants, 48% of the children they reach through 4-H are Hispanic.
The participants explained that they roughly reach 9,000 children; nevertheless only
1,000 of them are involved in a community/project club. The participants agreed that the
community/proj ect clubs are the programs that have the best effect on children. The
participation in this type of club helps children develop social, communication and
leadership skills. According to the participants, out of 1, 000 active members in a
community/proj ect club more or less seventy percent are White.
The participants explained that the 48% of Hispanics reached was due to after
school programs and school enrichment. They see a need to increase Hispanic
involvement in community/proj ects clubs, so they can also have access to the benefits
mentioned above. According to the participants one of the reasons for the lack of
Hispanic participation is that, 4-H has its roots in rural White America, and this makes it
difficult to attract minorities in general. Another factor is the fact that 4-H is not known
by the Hispanic culture and they do not necessarily have a way to bridge into that.
Furthermore, these clubs are very volunteer intensive and not all families are able to
commit the time necessary. In many situations Hispanics families do not have the luxury
The participants indicated that in order increase Hispanic participation they have to
establish relationships, and this takes time and effort. The lack of personnel in their
county complicates that. There are only two 4-H extension agents for the entire county,
and neither of them speaks Spanish. There is a clear need to hire or partner with people
who are fluent in Spanish so they can start establishing the relationships needed to bridge
that gap and getting the word about 4-H dispersed among Hispanics. According to the
participants there is a need to promote 4-H among Hispanics, since the
community/proj ect clubs in Hispanic communities is rare. Four-H can be very beneficial
to Hispanics since it can facilitate their transition or adaptation to the American culture.
Some specific strategies suggested by the participants are as follow:
* Partnership with the city parks department and have them hire a 4-H staff member,
and that way we can have a 4-H club in each park and make the clubs more
accessible to the communities.
* Partner with other organizations that serve Hispanics.
* Have fields days during the weekends in places like "La Pequefia Habana" and
Hialeah, invite the parents with their children so they can learn about 4-H and make
sure to emphasis that it is a free service, all it takes is some time and commitment.
* Post flyers in laundry mats in Hispanic Neighborhoods.
* Hire more staff fluent in Spanish.
Successful 4-H Clubs
A crucial element of 4-H clubs are the volunteers. Participants expressed that they
do not recruit 4-H leaders, because of the lack of time available. The majority of the 4-H
club leaders were either 4-H'ers themselves and by random chance. Many of the 4-H
leaders have seen the 4-H display in the county fair and want to get involved. The
participants expressed that the main characteristics they look for in a 4-H leader are:
responsible, communication skills, being understanding, having compassion, open-
minded and fair.
According to the participants a common trait among successful 4-H clubs is that the
extension agent has to hand-hold them during the first year; that includes calling the 4-H
leader, following up and asking the following: How are you doing? Do you have any
questions? How can I help you? Do you need a guest speaker? Are you getting burned
out? Would you like me to come to your club meeting? In conclusion really hand-holding
and being there for the first year is what makes a club successful. Currently the 4-H
leaders receive fall training every year, where they are given fun hands-on activities, they
are taught games that can be done with the club, different ideas on different proj ects, and
they are also provided with a calendar that includes all the 4-H activities during the year.
According to the participants this is not enough, they need more financial and staff
support from extension, and they are currently developing a handbook specifically for
leaders to make their jobs easier. They are also planning to have another training during
spring 2007. The training aims to provide 4-H leaders with alternative strategies to
recruit potential 4-H members, youth development and club leadership, increase family
involvement and a more detailed understanding of the clubs reports and paper work.
This chapter presented the findings of the study. Findings were organized and
presented by the following obj ectives: 1) Describe the perceptions and impacts of 4-H
clubs among Hispanics members and their parents, 2) Describe the perceptions of 4-H
and areas of interest of potential Hispanic members of 4-H clubs in the southwest area of
Miami-Dade County and 3) Describe the perceptions of 4-H extension agents regarding
Hispanics in Miami-Dade County. Chapter 5 will present a more detailed discussion of
these findings, as well as implications for the findings for the groups studied.
Table 4-1: Four-H members focus group participants
Alias Gender Race
LZ Male Hispanic
Taz Female Hispanic
Alphaba Female White
Sandy Cheeks Female Hispanic
Freddy Krueger Male Hispanic
Tinkerb ell Female White
Baby Female Hispanic
Tiger Male African American
Pink Female African American
Bubbles Female African American
Princess Female Hispanic
*Alias names selected to maintain the confidentiality.
Years Involved with 4-H1
Table 4-2: Parents of 4-H members focus group participants
Alias Gender Race Years Involved with 4-H
CJR Male Hispanic 12
CPE Male Hispanic 12
CRS Female Hispanic 12
RBT Male Hispanic 12
IVT Female Hispanic 8
PMA Female White 7
MRY Female White 6
JLU Male Hispanic 5
NLN Male Hispanic 2
MRA Female Hispanic 2
*Alias names selected to maintain the confidentiality.
Table 4-3: Non-4-H members focus group participants
Alias Gender Race
Phoebe Female Hispanic
Rachel Female Hispanic
Dog Male Hispanic
Pop star Female Hispanic
Shaquille O'neal Female Hispanic
Sam Male Hispanic
U7U2 Male Hispanic
Princess Female Hispanic
Balloon Female Hispanic
Hillary Duff Female Hispanic
Queen Female Hispanic
*Alias names selected to maintain the confidentiality.
Table 4-4: Parents of non-4-H members focus group participants
Alias Gender Race
AB Female Hispanic
AS Male Hispanic
DH Male Hispanic
DT Female Hispanic
GH Female Hispanic
IA Male Hispanic
MA Female Hispanic
Alias Gender Race
MF Male Hispanic
MG Female Hispanic
*Alias names selected to maintain the confidentiality.
Table 4-5: Themes emerged from focus groups with 4-H members and parents of 4-H
4-H is agriculture and fun 4-H is agriculture, friends and community
Learning about 4-H Learning about 4-H
Youth involvement Development of life skills
Development of life skills A good program is a collaborative effort
Start small, offer diversity, recognition, and
have a good leader
Join our club!i Its fun and we accept
This chapter presents the conclusions, implications and recommendations drawn
from the findings of the study. Additionally, it provides suggestions for further research
that can contribute to increase Hispanic enrollment in traditional 4-H club within Miami-
Discussion of Key Findings
4-Members and Parents of 4-H members
Result of our study reported that 4-H members and parents of 4-H members had
positive perceptions regarding 4-H as a youth development program. Both groups linked
4-H to agriculture and fun activities, where they were able to meet and establish
relationships with other children and adults. One can make the assumption that the 4-H
club format allows club members and adults to engage in different activities that promote
Our study indicated that the maj ority of the 4-H members and parents of 4-H
members felt that the club members had developed life skills that will help them
throughout their lives. Participants reported multiple gains in terms of public speaking,
leadership skills, communication skills, responsibility, self-confidence, respect for and
from others; and real life experience from their projects. These findings support the
research by Astroth & Haynes (2001); Astroth (1996); Boyd et.al, (1992); Fox, Schroeder
& Lodl (2003); Heinsohn & Cantrell (1986); Ladewig & Thomas (1987); and Mead et al.,
(1999), which found that 4-H1 members perceived they had developed specific life skills
through the 4-H1 experience.
Contrary to what Allen, lyechad, Mayeske, Parson, Rodriguez, Singh, Swiney,
Tolley and Butterfield (1988) stated that competition decreases self-esteem and fosters
individualism rather than cooperation, in this study the maj ority of adults reported that
4-H1 involvement has enabled the children to deal effectively with emotion.; especially
with situations like winning or losing that come with being involved in group activities
and competition. Additionally, as mentioned by other authors (Mean et al., 1999) club
members and parents reported that 4-H1 club membership had allowed them to interact
with other people and establish long lasting friendship with other children and adults and
has also helped children to understand and embrace diversity.
Most parents of 4-H1 members who participated in the study believed that the
success of a 4-H1 club was related to a true commitment from parents, 4-H1 leader and
extension agent. Participants cited that the adult' s commitment to the club enables
children develop positive relationships with other adults besides their parents. This is in
a congruence with various studies that have demonstrated that one key factor in a youth's
life is a supportive mentoring relationship with a non-related adult (Bogenschnieder &
Olson, 1998; Seita, 1994; Werner & Smith, 1992).
In addition, like the study conducted by Perkins and Butterfield (1999) our study
shows that the 4-H1 club has provided participants the opportunity to interact positively
with an adult leader who cares about them; this interaction has positively impacted the
children because they feel important. In this regard Russell (2001) stated that through
interaction with multiple caring adults outside the family, youth receive guidance,
direction, and feedback that reinforces or builds on the effort of parents and extended
family. In conclusion, access to multiple adult role models in addition to parents benefit
youth emotionally, scholastically and interpersonally (Walker, 1998).
The findings of our study reported that the maj ority of 4-H members were involved
in other youth organization besides 4-H. This supports the researcher by Ladewig &
Thomas (1987) and Astroth & Haynes (2001) which found that 4-H members are more
likely to be involved in all types of after school programs than other youth. Furthermore,
4-H members and parents of 4-H members expressed the need to diversify the 4-H
program in order to increase Hispanic enrollment.
Non-4-H Members and Parents of Non-4-H Members
Limited exposure to 4-H programs was characteristic of the non-4-H members and
the parents of non-4-H members; only two adults had seen or heard about 4-H. Further
more, support services, sources of information and access to 4-H is almost non-existent to
this group of participants. Therefore not surprisingly, the participants perceptions of 4-H
were shaped by the limited access to such services. Parents of non-4-H members
erroneously associated 4-H only with cows and agriculture. This association led the
participants to perceive that 4-H was not interested in working with Hispanics.
The findings of our study showed that Hispanics (children and adults) are very
interested in participating in youth development program, like the 4-H traditional club.
Both groups were eager to participate in a program that will allow them to socialize and
develop new friendships (Farner, Cutz, Farner, Seibold & Abuchar, 2006). Although the
adults pointed out that location and access was important, it is not an overwhelming
constraint on participation. The participants expressed that as long as the club meetings
were held on weekends, they would encourage the children to participate in 4-H.