A QUALITATIVE EXPLORATION OF EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING IN 4 H CLUBS By KAREN M. BLYLER A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2016
Â© 2016 Karen M. Blyler
To my husband , Mike, for his support and encouragement on this long journey To my fur babies , for their companions hip during those late nights on the computer To my pa rents, for giving me the gift of persistence
4 ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS This completed project represents many years of balancing school, work , and family life. There were many bumps in the ro ad, but I was persistent. Throughout my life I have never been afraid to experience new an d different things, or to face change or challenges that moved me beyond my comfort zone . As a life long learner, this was my ultimate accomplishm ent. But the journey to get here and what I learned alo ng the way was the real reward. I have many people to thank for this journey. First and foremost, I would like to thank Dr. Mike Spranger, my husband, best friend, fishi ng buddy, and light of my life . His encouragement a n d support were essential for me to complete this mission . I would also like to thank Dr. Edward Osborne. As chair of my graduate committee, this journey would not have been possible without his continuous support. His mentoring was a huge help in getting m e through my many years of graduate school. I am forever grateful for his patience and encouragement. I would also like to thank the other members of my committee, Dr. Brian Myers, Dr. Kirby Barrick, and Dr. Linda Jones. Each provided me with great insight and inspired me to stay true to my goal. I would like to thank the wonderful 4 H leaders that allowed me to interview them. I loved hearing about their clubs, their passion for 4 H, and the wonderful club experie nces they shared with me in the interviews . Their dedication in helping to improve the lives of youth was a great inspiration to me and gave me new perspectives about learning. Finally, I also thank those 4 H agents who helped me recruit these wonderful leaders for my study. Their assistance in hel ping me achieve my graduate school goals will be forever appreciated.
5 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ................................ ................................ ............................... 4 LIST OF TABLES ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 10 LIST OF FIGURES ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 11 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ................... 12 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION TO STUDY ................................ ................................ ................. 14 Background ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 14 Experience and Meaningful Learning ................................ ............................... 14 Defining Experiential Learning ................................ ................................ .......... 16 How Youth Learn Best ................................ ................................ ..................... 17 Learning Environments ................................ ................................ ..................... 18 Experiential Learning in Nonformal Education Programs ................................ . 19 Experiential Learning in the 4 H Youth Development Program ........................ 20 Structure and Importance of 4 H Clubs ................................ ............................ 22 The Role of the 4 H Club Leader ................................ ................................ ...... 24 Statement of the Problem ................................ ................................ ....................... 26 Purpose and Exploratory Questions ................................ ................................ ....... 27 Significance of Study ................................ ................................ .............................. 28 List of Terms and Abbreviations ................................ ................................ ............. 30 Limitations of the Study ................................ ................................ ........................... 33 Assumptions of the Study ................................ ................................ ....................... 34 Chapter Summary ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 34 2 REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE ................................ ................................ ............ 36 Introduction ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 36 Behaviorism, Constructivism, and Experiential Learning ................................ ........ 36 Experiential Learning Models ................................ ................................ .................. 40 ................................ ................................ ................................ . 40 ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 41 l ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 41 stage Model ................................ ................................ ................. 42 ................................ ................................ ................................ ..... 43 Characteristics o f Experiential Learning ................................ ................................ .. 44 The 4 H Experiential Learning Model ................................ ................................ ..... 45 Conceptual Model for Study ................................ ................................ .................... 47 Previous Research ................................ ................................ ................................ . 48 Use of Experiential Learning in 4 H ................................ ................................ .. 49 Volunteer Training in Experiential Learni ng ................................ ...................... 50
6 Preferred Training Approaches ................................ ................................ ........ 51 Perceptions on Learning in 4 H Club Settings ................................ .................. 52 Experiential Learning in Other Informal Settings ................................ .............. 56 Experiential Learning in Formal Settings ................................ .......................... 57 Chapter Summar y ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 65 3 RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS ................................ ................................ .. 70 Introduction ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 70 Qualitative A pproach ................................ ................................ ............................... 71 Phenomenological Approach ................................ ................................ .................. 72 Researcher Subjectivity Statement ................................ ................................ ......... 75 Methodology ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 83 Adapting a Phenomenological Approach ................................ ......................... 83 Phenomenological Methods Used ................................ ................................ .... 84 Description of Clubs Used for Study ................................ ................................ . 87 Sampling Methods ................................ ................................ ............................ 89 Data Collection ................................ ................................ ................................ . 92 Measures of Validation ................................ ................................ ..................... 97 Data Analysis ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 100 Chapter Summary ................................ ................................ ................................ . 103 4 FINDINGS ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 106 Introduction ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 106 Club Leader 1 Ella ................................ ................................ .............................. 107 Introducing Ella and Her Club ................................ ................................ ......... 107 Becoming a Leader ................................ ................................ ........................ 107 Previous Education and Training ................................ ................................ .... 109 Her Role as Club Leader ................................ ................................ ................ 110 Involving Parents and Other Adults ................................ ................................ 114 Beliefs o n Learning in the 4 H Club ................................ ................................ 116 Describing Experiential Learning ................................ ................................ .... 121 Describing Club Structure ................................ ................................ ............... 123 Describing Club Experiences ................................ ................................ ......... 127 Meeting experiences ................................ ................................ ................ 127 Project experiences ................................ ................................ ................. 129 Competitive event experiences ................................ ................................ 136 Community service experiences ................................ .............................. 137 Leadership experie nces ................................ ................................ ........... 139 Civic engagement experiences ................................ ................................ 141 Challenges to the Learning Process ................................ ............................... 143 Reflections on the Interview, Experiential Learning, and Training .................. 144 Club Leader 2 Ruby ................................ ................................ ............................ 145 Introducing Ruby and Her Club ................................ ................................ ...... 145 Becoming a Leader ................................ ................................ ........................ 145 Previous Education and Training ................................ ................................ .... 146
7 Her Role as Club Leader ................................ ................................ ................ 146 Involving Parents and Other Adults ................................ ................................ 147 Beliefs on Learning in the 4 H Club ................................ ................................ 148 Describing Experiential Learning ................................ ................................ .... 150 Describing Club Structure ................................ ................................ ............... 151 Describing Club Exp eriences ................................ ................................ ......... 153 Project experiences ................................ ................................ ................. 153 Leadership and civic engagement experiences ................................ ....... 162 Community service experiences ................................ .............................. 162 Challenges to the Learning Process ................................ ............................... 163 Reflections on the Interview, Experient ial Learning, and Training .................. 164 Club Leader 3 Marta ................................ ................................ .......................... 165 Introducing Marta and Her Club ................................ ................................ ..... 165 Becoming a Leader ................................ ................................ ........................ 165 Previous Education and Training ................................ ................................ .... 166 Her Role as Club Leader ................................ ................................ ................ 167 Involving Parents and Other Adults ................................ ................................ 168 Beliefs on Learning in the 4 H Club ................................ ................................ 169 Describ ing Experiential Learning ................................ ................................ .... 172 Describing Club Structure ................................ ................................ ............... 175 Describing Club Experiences ................................ ................................ ......... 178 Project experiences ................................ ................................ ................. 178 Experiences giving talks and demonstrations ................................ .......... 183 Community service experiences ................................ .............................. 185 Leadership and civic engagement experiences ................................ ....... 187 Challenges to the Learning Process ................................ ............................... 188 Reflections on the Interviews, Experiential Learning, and Training ................ 189 Club Leader 4 Anna ................................ ................................ ............................ 191 Introducing A nna and Her Club ................................ ................................ ...... 191 Becoming a Leader ................................ ................................ ........................ 192 Previous Education and Training ................................ ................................ .... 193 Her Role as Club Leader ................................ ................................ ................ 194 Involving Parents and Other Adults ................................ ................................ 197 Beliefs on Learning in the 4 H Club ................................ ................................ 198 Describing Experiential Learning ................................ ................................ .... 200 Describing Club Structure ................................ ................................ ............... 203 Describing Club Experiences ................................ ................................ ......... 204 Meeting experiences ................................ ................................ ................ 205 Project experiences ................................ ................................ ................. 205 Experiences giving talks and demonstrations ................................ .......... 211 Competitive event experiences ................................ ................................ 213 Community service experiences ................................ .............................. 215 Leadership experiences ................................ ................................ ........... 217 Civic engagement experiences ................................ ................................ 219 Challenges to the L earning Process ................................ ............................... 222 Reflections on the Interview, Experiential Learning, and Training .................. 223
8 Club Leader 5 Eve ................................ ................................ .............................. 225 Introducing Eve and Her Club ................................ ................................ ........ 225 Becoming a Leader ................................ ................................ ........................ 226 Previous Education and Train ing ................................ ................................ .... 227 Her Role as Club Leader ................................ ................................ ................ 228 Involving Parents and Other Adults ................................ ................................ 230 Beliefs on Learning in the 4 H Club ................................ ................................ 232 Describing Experiential Learning ................................ ................................ .... 235 Describing Club Structure ................................ ................................ ............... 237 Describing Club Experiences ................................ ................................ ......... 242 Meeting experiences ................................ ................................ ................ 243 Project experiences ................................ ................................ ................. 244 Leadership experiences ................................ ................................ ........... 251 Civic engagement experiences ................................ ................................ 253 Community service experiences ................................ .............................. 254 Experiences giving demonstrations and talks ................................ .......... 255 Challenges to the Learning Process ................................ ............................... 257 Reflections on the Interview, Experiential Learning, and Training .................. 260 Composite Description of Leaders and Findings ................................ .................. 262 Reasons for Being a 4 H Leader ................................ ................................ .... 262 Learning about Experiential Learning ................................ ............................. 263 Role in Learning ................................ ............................. 265 ................................ ............................. 267 Clubs as Supportive Learning Environments ................................ .................. 270 Social nature of clubs ................................ ................................ ............... 270 Influence of club structure ................................ ................................ ........ 272 Influence of learning strateg ies ................................ ................................ 274 Describing Experiential Learning Components ................................ ............... 279 Concrete experiences ................................ ................................ .............. 280 Reflection ................................ ................................ ................................ . 282 Application of learning ................................ ................................ .............. 285 Identifying Experiential Learning Pathways ................................ .................... 288 Challenges for Leaders and Learning ................................ ............................ 289 Key Thoughts about Interview and Future Trainings ................................ ...... 290 Chapter Summary ................................ ................................ ................................ . 291 5 SUMMARY AND DISCUSSION ................................ ................................ ............ 295 Introduction ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 295 Summary of Key Findings ................................ ................................ ..................... 296 Revisiting the Role and Needs of Leaders ................................ ............................ 298 The Influence of the Learning Environment ................................ .......................... 300 Learning through Social Constructivism ................................ ......................... 300 Influence of Club Context ................................ ................................ ............... 301 Influ ence of Project Structure ................................ ................................ ......... 303 Revisiting the 4 H Experiential Learning Model ................................ .................... 304 Defining the Quality of an E xperience ................................ ............................ 305
9 Revisiting Reflection ................................ ................................ ....................... 311 Revisiting the Application of Learning ................................ ............................ 314 New P erspectives on the 4 H Experiential Learning Model ............................ 315 Describing Conceptual Experiential Learning Pathways ................................ ....... 317 Describing New Con ceptual EL Models ................................ ................................ 3 18 Implications and Recommendations for Practice ................................ .................. 320 Implications for Research ................................ ................................ ..................... 326 Defining the Essence of Experiential Learning in 4 H ................................ ........... 329 Conclusion ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 329 APPENDICES A APPROVAL O F PROTOCOL ................................ ................................ ............... 336 B LETTER TO EXPERT PANEL ................................ ................................ .............. 337 C RECRUITMENT LETTER TO AGENTS ................................ ............................... 338 D LETTER FOR INFORMED CONSENT ................................ ................................ . 339 E LETTER FOR MEMBER CHECK ................................ ................................ ......... 341 F CLUB LEADER INTERVEW GUIDE ................................ ................................ ..... 342 LIST OF REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ............................. 345 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ .......................... 360
10 LIST OF TABLES Table page 4 1 Overview of 4 H club leaders used in the study. ................................ ............... 293
11 LIST OF FIGURES Figure page 2 1 by Kolb (1984). ................................ ............ 66 2 2 .................. 66 2 3 The Lewinian experiential learning model (modified from Kolb, 1984). .............. 67 2 4 ................................ ........ 67 2 5 ial learning (Kolb, 1984). ................................ ............. 68 2 6 4 H experiential learning model (modified from Pfieffer & Jones, 1985). ............ 68 2 7 Preliminary conce ptual model of EL in 4 H clubs. ................................ .............. 69 4 1 Examples of EL components and pathways as perceived by club leaders. ...... 294 5 1 Possible EL pa thways in marine projects as perceived by Ella. ....................... 331 5 2 Possible EL pathways in sewing projects as perceived by Ruby. ..................... 331 5 3 Poss ible EL pathways in outdoor projects as perceived by Anna. .................... 332 5 4 Possible EL pathways in multi year livestock projects as perceived by Anna. . 332 5 5 Possible EL pathways in community service projects as perceived by Ella. ..... 333 5 6 Possible EL pathways in leadership experiences as perceived by Anna. ......... 333 5 7 Experiential learning as experienced by 4 H club members. ............................ 334 5 8 Experiential learning as guided by 4 H club leaders. ................................ ........ 335
12 Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy A QUALITATIVE EXPLORATION OF EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING IN 4 H CLUBS By Karen M. Blyler Ma y 2016 Chair: Edward W. Osborne Major: Agricultural Education and Communication The 4 H Youth Development Program fosters the use of experiential learning to help youth learn life skills through subject matter learning exper iences. Effective use of experiential learning in 4 H has required that club leaders , who provide most of the teaching in 4 H clubs, fully understand and effectively use experiential learning approaches in the club . Yet there has been a lack of adequate an d consistent training in experie ntial learning for club leaders . This qualitative study used a phenomenological interview approach to examine the beliefs, perceptions, and lived experiences of five 4 H club leaders . Findings from transcr ibed interviews re vealed a more complex picture of learning processes taking place in the club . Leaders described themselves as guides, teachers, mentors, mediators, role models, collaborators, coaches, and even co learners in the club . Previous training in experiential lea rning was not consistent among leaders in the study. Leaders described experiential learning as happening through the structure, culture, and the soci al nature of the 4 H club. The group community within each club fostered discussion and collaborations, cr eated role models for younger members, and offered mentoring opportunities. These processes were viewed as helping youth to
13 learn and grow. Most were not aware of their role in guiding the experiential learning model , yet described club activities rich in concrete, hands on experiences. Reflection was viewed as occurring through social intera ction, group feedback, and end of year project reports. Application was viewed as an action where youth applied their skills in other project areas, community service, lead ership roles, and later in life. Leaders described experiential learning pathways in projects, community service, leadership and civic engagement, talks and demonstrations, and competitive events. Examples of these learning p athways were illustrated. A s a result, new ideas and thoughts were generated for future volunteer training programs and research that could deepen the understanding of experiential learning processes in 4 H. The study also generated ideas for t wo new alternative experiential learnin g models to illustrate the multi dimensional learning processes taking place in the 4 H club.
14 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION TO STUDY Background Nelson Mandela (1990) once said most powerful Paulo Freire (1993) in his book Pedagogy of the Oppressed expressed that education should emphasize learning as a political act, because it provides a means for all people to be liberated. An investment in education is important if youth are to be the fut ure of a nation (Choy & Delah a ye, 2005). A major assumption behind educational policy in the United States has been that the school setting has been the only place where and when children learn (Harvard Family Research Project, 2007). Yet, most learning ha s taken place outside the formal school setting (Falk & Dierking, 2010). There has been a growing awareness of the role (Bell, Lewenstein, Shouse, & Feder, eds., 2009). Th e U nited States can no longer rely solely on the K 12 formal school system to build and nurture the skills youth need in s ., 2009; Carlson & Maxa, 1997). However, additional research has been needed t o better understand how learning occurs in these out of school environments (Falk & Dierking, 2010). To help address this need, this study examined the use of experiential learning practices in the Florida 4 H youth development program, a nonformal educati on program associated with land grant universities. Experience and Meaningful Learning John Dewey (1938), a noted educational philosopher, believed that all genuine
15 learni ng experiences that help a person to become an independent thinker, problem (i.e., an expe rience ) . They described learning and experience as being closely connected and virtually inseparable. continuum learning controlled by an authority on one end and ed on the other (p. 28). Carl Rogers (1979) described two general types of To the learner, these syl lables and associated tasks have no real meaning and must be memorized. On the opposite end is more significant or meaningful learning that happens when experiences involve self Multiple definitions . 38). knowledge or behavior as a result of an experience. Meaningful learning was further clarified by Ormrod (2012) as occurring when a learner is able to recognize a relationship between new information and something that was previously known by the learner , an d stored in long term memo ry. E tling (1993) described that learning is meaningful when learner s incorporate new knowledge, skills, or attitudes into their own values and behaviors. With this in mind, educational activities should be designed so t hey lead to meaningful learning .
16 Def ining Experiential Learning Experiential learning, or learning through experience, has gained increased recognition over the years and has been used in various educational and training settings in different forms and for different purposes (Tirmizi, 2000). According to Knapp (1994), the foundations of experiential learning date back to the beginning of the 20 th century and share a common philosophical base with outdoor education and the progressive education movement developed and promoted by John Dewey. Sm ith and Knapp (vol. 1, 2009) claimed that experiential education spreads over a wide diversity of philosophies, and reaching an agreement on a specific definition of experiential learning has been difficult. To add to this confusion, the terms experiential education and experiential learning have often been used to mean the same thing. The Association for Expe riential Education (2014 ) distinguished between that informs m any methodologies in which educators purposefully engage with learners in direct experiences and focused reflection in order to increase knowledge, develop Therefore , the role of the exper iential educator is to help learner s make meaning of their experience, make the experience relative to their lives, and help learners apply what they learned to another similar, yet different, situation, in order to develop their cap acity as learners. Experiential learning, on the other hand, involves the acquisition of knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values by the learner (Smith & Knapp, 2011). Beard making process of ac tive engagement between the inner world of the person and the outer world of the Thus, a key component of experiential learning has been the
17 presence of a concrete experience in which the learner is directly engaged with the external p henomena being studied. Itin (1999) suggested that educators and researchers distinguish between experiential learning and experiential education in order to make discussions on this approach to learning more meaningful and clear. Carver (1996) described f our pedagogical principles of experiential learning: 1) activities and the consequences of these activities are authentic and relevant to the learner; 2) youth are actively engaged in the process of learning, both mentally and physically; 3) youth are guid ed through the process of learning in order to build a better understanding of what they experienced; and 4) mechanisms are place that help youth connect the experience to future situations. How Youth Learn Best Increasing evidence has supported the idea t hat learners learn best when they are actively engaged physically, mentally, and emotionally in an activity or experience (Horton, Gogolski, & Warkentien, 2006; Richardson, 1994). Halpern, Heckman, and Larson (2012) describe d that learners learn best when 1) they focus only on a few things at a time, 2) when the p urpose of the activity is clear, 3) when they pla y an active role, and 4) when learning occurs within a social context. That is, learning increases when the experience is shared with fellow learner s, especially when the relationships are meaningful. Learners also need opportunities to engage in a variety of activities that interest them (Theokas, Lerner, Phelps, & Lerner, 2006). Active participation in such iple senses, such as hearing, touch, and smell, thus enhancing the learning potential of an experience (Millard, 2008). Wigginton (1986) added that for best learning to occur, the learner must be the one who processes
18 the experience. Research has also supp orted the idea that youth learn better when they have supportive, mentoring relationships with other adults in a climate of caring, trust, and respect for the learner (Bogenschneider & Olsen, 1998 ; Guion & Rivera, 2008; Perkins & Butte rfield, 1999 ). Thus, t he setting or environment for learning is an important consideration in the learning process. Learning Environments Learning environments, or learning settings, have generally fallen into formal or informal categories (Bell et al., 2009, p. 2 14). Formal l earning environments have included the traditional classroom setting, where learning is designed around carefully planned curricula and standards (Walker, 1998). Formal education has often been Russo, 2008, p. 107). Yet, research has shown that youth programs occurring outside the school setting have also played a significant role in a young person's education (McLaughlin, 2000; McLaughlin, Irby, & Langman, 1994). Informal le arning environments have been generally found outside of school settings and include informal and nonformal education (Bell et al., 2009). Informal education has been described as spontaneous or incidental learning that occurs through everyday experiences that are no t planned or organized, such as interactions with friends, fa mily, and nature (Etling, 1993). Nonformal e learning 288). Nonformal education can take place any where in a community, such as club meeting s , summer camp s , after school programs, competitive event s , community event s , or in youth projects (Russel l,
19 2001). Skuza and Russo (2008) offered that youth programs outside of school have provided great opportunities to foster learning. Nonformal learning environments have typically provide d a safe, non threatening venue for engaging youth i n the learning pr ocess (Bell et al., 2009). These environments have allow ed learners to choose what they want to learn and have been designed around the interests, culture, and com petence of the learner (Bell et al., 2009). These environments have allowed youth to be thems elves, pursue interests, and make friends (Skuza, 2005). Nonformal education programs have often been contextually relevant, collab orative, and voluntary (Bell et al., 2009). A fundamental belief in nonformal education programs has been that youth want to a result, activities have often been more community based and youth driven than formal education (Russell, 2001). According to Russell (2001), nonformal education programs , like formal education, have a commitment to learning and rely on carefully designed and scientifically sound curricula. Both learning environments also emphasize organized and intentional learning and involve structure and professional educators (Russell , 2001). However, research on the benefits and impacts of informal learning environments on learning has al learning environments (Bell et al., 2009). Experiential Learning in Nonformal Educ ation Programs Russell (2001) described experiential learning as often being used in nonformal education programs, like 4 H, because the process provides the learner with personal choices, the ability to develop personal relationships, and the opportunity to work
20 collaboratively with others. Having choices en ables learners to develop important life skills, such as critical thinking and decision making (Russell, 2001). Hamilton (1980) added that the use of experiential learning can enhance job skills, commun ity involvement, and career orientation. Bourdeau (2004) believed experiential learning approaches could be used to help youth achieve greater science literacy. Others have described that using the experiential learning model in nonfo r mal education program s has helped young people connect past experiences to new experiences by providing them with opportunities to process and apply what they have learn ed to new experiences ( Millard, 2008 ; Skuza & Russo, 2008;). Beard and Wilson ve engagement is one of the basic tenets of experiential learning , need to be addressed. They further described that the use of experiential learning enables a person to bring a ll these elements together in a more holistic approach, rather than addressing them separately . Kolb (1984) believed that experiential learning provides a way to examine and develo pment. That is, experiential learning makes learning more relevant to the real world of the learne r. N on formal education programs have long promoted the use of experiential learning because of its more holistic approach to learning (Joplin, 1995 ). Experien tial L earning in the 4 H Y outh Development Program When the Smith Lever Act of 1914 created Extension as part of the land grant system, the idea of learning through experience was developed into a conceptual model in order to aid in the transfer of agricul tural knowledge and research to rural areas and families . The 4 H youth development program became the youth outreach component
21 of land grant universities, the Cooperative Extension System, and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). As a resul t, the 4 H youth development program was one of the first youth focused organizations that utilized nonformal education practices as a mean s to educate youth (Russell, 2001). Although John Dewey introduced the theory of experiential learning in 1938, a H since the early 1900s. The 4 H relevant, real world situ 44). Enfield (2001) added that the exper iential learning model was adopted by 4 learn best when they are actively engaged in authentic and meaningful tasks and are H program has followed a y outh driven model where learners are self directed and have the ability to make their own choices within the learning environment (Carlson, 1998). Guion and Rivera (2008) described 4 H as having three main features: 1) you th participation and leadership; 2 ) pos itive adult youth relationships; and 3) skill building activities. The development of life skills has been an integral part of positive yout h development within the 4 H program . The 4 H program has helped youth learn important life skills through proj ect work, civic engagement, leadership opportunities, camping, and competitive activities. These experiences have been described as utilizing experiential learning strategies (Carlson, 1998; Enfield, 2001; Fox, Schroeder, & Lodl, 2003; Guion and Rivera, 20 08; Norman & Jordan, 2009; Russell, 2001). Enfield (2001) stated that the activities and projects in which youth engage build on previous experiences that evolve over time. Thus, as young people grow in 4 H, they have
22 additional opportunities to explore ot her project topics or engage in new activities where new knowledge can be applied (Enfield, 2001). Structure and Importance of 4 H Clubs Al though multiple methods have been used to deliver 4 H programs to youth audiences (e. g., clubs, after school, school enrichmen t , and camping programs), experiential learning has been best practiced and observed in the 4 H club setting for a number of reasons (Jordan, personal communication, 2011 ). Fogarty, Terry, Pracht, and Jordan (2009) examined learning environments t hat fostered positive youth development. They found the 4 H club setting offered youth a longer, more supportive, and more positive nurturing environment compared to the other delivery systems in the 4 H program. C lubs are organized and supported to provid e community based, positive, structured learning opportunity for youth during their development al years. Gregoire (2004) described clubs as providing youth with fun, hands on learning environments. She emphasized the important role that 4 H clubs have play ed in youth development because of the many benefits they provided. Clubs have offered opportunities to build youth adult partnerships and have provided safe learning environment s, opportunities for mastery of subject matter, a chance to provide service to the community, a feeling of inclusiveness and belonging , and self determination. Ferrari and Sweeney (2005) also pointed out that participation in a 4 H club provided youth with new experiences and opportunities for building relationships with a caring ad ult. Carver and Enfield (2006) added that the 4 H club setting has been more responsive to local needs and has often engaged parents and other community . 4).
23 In addition, the structure and activities of 4 H club s have reflected an experiential learning approach (Enfield, 2001). Most 4 H project materials have integrated experiential learning approaches i nto t he curriculum (Enfield, 2001). Project curricula have provided youth with opportunities to be active participants in their own learning (Guion & Rivera, 2008). take responsibility for what t hey want to learn (Enfield, 2001). Club members have been able to choose projects based on their own personal interests (e.g., animal science, environmental science, shooting sports, robotics, etc.). Club projects have offer ed youth the opportu nity to enha nce and build on their skills over several years (Van Horn, Flanagan, & Thomson, 1998). Club members have elected their own officers, conducted business meetings, formed committees, engaged in community service, planned field trips, provided talks and demo nstrations to others, and competed for awards and scholarships (Reck, 1951). Many youth get involved in leadership roles and become club officers (Carver & Enfield, 2006). Using elected officers has allowed youth to learn various leadership and communicati on skills over time (Van Ho rn, Flanagan, & Thomson, 1998). As club members grow and gain experiences through committee work, they are given more responsibility in the club . A 4 H club typically consists of five or more youth guided by o ne or more adults. C lub youth range fro m 5 18 years of age. Clubs vary in size and consist of youth from the local co mmunity or from around a county. The go als and structure of a club vary , depending on the needs and interests of the youth , but all clubs are expected to engag e youth members in community based, positive, structured learning experiences (online at
24 http://florida4h.org/clubs/about/ ). Each club is managed by one or two adult club leaders. These leaders play an impo rtant role in the structure and learning strategies of the club. The Role of the 4 H Club Leader The foundation of experiential learning lies in the experiences of the learner (Andresen, Boud, & Cohen, 2000). Yet, an isolated experience, where the learner lacks opportunities for reflection and a chance to apply new knowledge to another situation, may not lead to true learning (Dewey, 1938). Carlson and Maxa (1998) cautioned that experiences only lead to true learning if the child understands what happened i n the experience, is able to observe patterns that emerged, makes generalizations from these experiences, and then has an opportunity to apply this new knowledge to a similar, yet different situation . Kolb (1984 ) suggested that the experiential learning pr ocess has been best managed by a skilled facilitator or teacher. A skilled facilitator helps the learner process the information gained from the experience on a deeper level (Carlson & Maxa, 1998). Providing youth with time to explore, talk about, and refl ect on their choices or decisions has been an important avenue for feedback (Carlson & Maxa, of the experience moves an experience from being just an activity to a more meaningful learning experience. The 4 H p rogram has relied hea vily upon adult volunteers to guide the experiential learning process in 4 H clubs and help youth learn life skills and subject matter content (Carlson & Maxa, 1998 ; Diem, 2001 ; Norman & Jordan, 2009 ; Smith, Meehan, Enfield, George , & Young, 2004). These c lub leaders have brought divers e backgrounds, skills, and interests to the club setting. Club leaders have been essential
25 in providing youth with community based, positive, structured learning experiences. As club leaders, they have planned and implemented club programs and have been expected to guide the learning process by serving as skilled mentors, facilitators, and teachers. For optimum learning and benefit to youth, the 4 H volunteer should be skilled at developing appropriate learning experiences and asking the right questions at the right times during the experiential learning process (Jordan, personal communication, 2006 ). Carlson and Maxa (1998) also emphasized that leaders must be skilled in make sense of what they learned . All 4 H volunteers have been expected to receive some form of training before they assume the role of a volunteer (Jordan, personal communication, 2006). County extension agents have been responsible for training volunteers and providing them with the knowledge and skills necessary to manage and conduct 4 H programs (Jordan, personal communication, 2006 ; Nistler, Tesdale, & Mullins , personal communication, 2009 ). Proper training has helped club leaders to be successful at leading 4 H clubs (Smith et al., 2004; Hoover & Connor, 2001) . Proper training has also been shown to lead to more sustainable programs (Snider, 1985) and better volunteer retention rates (Van Winkle et al., 2002). Club le aders have been expected to utilize the experiential learning model in club programs and projects . Traditional training for volunteers has often been a one time and/or short duration event that has occurred through face to face meetings or through online p rograms (Kaslon, Lodl, & Greve, 2005). Leaders have had opportunities to learn about the experiential learning model through state and county volunteer training
26 programs, online presentations, published materials, and other venues (Jordan, personal communi cation, 2006). According to Diem (2001), 4 H club leaders need to understand the experiential learning process in order to use it effectively in the club setting . However, studies have shown that inconsistencies exist in the types of training that 4 H exte nsion agents have offered to 4 H volunteers at the county level (Deppe & Culp, 2001 ; Fletcher, 1987 ). This has been especially true for training in experiential learning strategies (Nistler, Tesdale, & Mullins, personal communication, 2009 ). Trainings have mainly H club (Arnold, Dolene, & Rennekamp, 2009). Important components of the experiential learning process have often been neglected as part of the learning process (Carlson & Maxa, 1998 ; Dewey, 1938 ; Enfie ld, 2001; Ponzio & Stanley, 1997; Torock, 2009). Gregoire (2004) pointed out that narrative accounts of youth and adu lt experiences in 4 H clubs are needed in order to better understand how cl ubs made a di fference in the lives of youth. Guion and Rivera (2 008) described the need for more descriptive studies in the specific learning experiences provided in 4 H clubs and how these experiences contribute to positive youth development. Based on these gaps and inconsistencies, further examination of the use of e xperiential learning practices in 4 H was warranted. Statement of the Problem Experiential learning has been widely embraced as an effective and beneficial educational approach f or youth. The 4 H program has long promoted the use of experiential learning p ractices to foster positive youth development. Effective use of experiential learning in 4 H has required that 4 H club leaders, who provide most of the
27 teaching in 4 H clubs, fully understand and effectively use experie ntial learning approaches. Yet, ther e has been a lack of adequate and consistent training in experiential learn ing for club leaders . A clear understanding of how 4 H club leaders actually per ceive, describe , and utilize the process of experiential learning in 4 H clubs also has been absen t. the club level formed the basis for this study . Purpose and Exploratory Questions The purpose of this s tud y was to explore experiential learning in Flori da 4 H clubs through the perceptions, beliefs, and lived experiences of 4 H club leaders . This study investigate d how leaders view ed and describe d experiential learning component s and processes as taking place in the club. This study also sought to generate some new ideas and conceptual models on experiential learning pathways in the club as perceived by 4 H club leaders . The researcher posed the following research question : How do leaders perceive and describe experiential learning in the 4 H club? In order to uncover the relevant experience s, understandings, and perceptions of club leaders related to experiential learning (EL) in the 4 H club setting, this study was further guided by the following questions : How do club leaders learn about EL ? 1. How do club leaders view their educational role in the club and in the EL 2. process? How do club leaders describe the EL model and its components? 3. How do club leaders describe their experiences using EL approaches in the 4. club?
28 How do club leaders perceive that youth learn through EL processes? 5. H ow can po ssible EL pathways be described and ill ustrated ? 6. Significance of Study The 4 H program has utilized an extensive network of adult volunteers as club leaders. Because of the long term involvement of youth and the many learning opportunities provided, the 4 H club offered an appropriate context and setting to explore experiential learning practices in the program. As caring adults, club leaders play an important role in the learning processes of club youth , but proper and consistent training has been needed. Between 2013 and 2015, the Florida 4 H Youth Development Program developed a series of documents addressing the need to increase volun teer recruitment and training. One document, entitled Organizational and Volunteer Systems to Support (Diem, 2013), identified the need for 4 H to recruit and train more club leaders. In 2015, the Florida 4 expectations nline at http://fl orida4h.org/programs/4HStandardsExpectations.pdf ). This document emphasized that county 4 H agents are responsible for providing appropriate training for their volunteers. At the state level, an internal document called for supporting 4 H Extension faculty in their efforts to train volunteers by using materials produced at the state level. These trainings were expected to help club leaders develop their own leadership ski lls and provide them with a deeper understanding of club learning processes. The depth to which the state training materials addressed experiential learning practices was not known at the onset of the study.
29 However, th e findings from this study could prov ide greater insight into experiential learning processes in 4 H clubs. This study identified a number of potential gaps and/or weaknesses in the use of experiential learning approaches. As a result, recomme ndations were generated to help guide 4 H agents i n their efforts to train club leaders in experiential learning processes. New conceptual models were generated to illustrate how the leaders in the study described experiential learning pathways in their clubs . Also generated were id eas for future research on learning in the 4 H club and on volunteer development and training strategies. Though the findings of this study cannot be generalized to all 4 H clubs, this study has provided potential value to the following groups for the following reasons: Extensio n/4 H state s pecialists This study may help Extension specialists identify and address possible gaps or weaknesses in current inservice training programs that focus on and/or use experiential learning practices. Concerns and issues uncovered in this stud y could help Extension specialists develop more effective training programs for Extension faculty. County e xtension faculty Having a better understanding of how experiential learning occurs at the club level will help 4 H Extension faculty better train c lub leaders to effectively use experiential learning approaches within the club. Club leaders This study may help leaders better understand the challenges and benefits of using experiential learning approaches. Greater awareness and more effective traini ng programs in experiential learning will more likely lead to better integration of experiential learning approaches within club programs. 4 H members A stronger emphasis on experiential learning approaches at the club level will provide youth with more meaningful learning experiences, leading to better outcomes/impacts in youth development and education. Youth organizations This study may benefit other youth organizations that use an experiential learning approach and depend on volunteers for program d elivery. Model for continued research or basis for new research This study may support future studies in 4 H on experiential learning and more specifically, on the variables, components, a nd processes uncovered.
30 List of Terms and Abbreviations Incl uded b elow are important terms and abbreviations with their definitions, as used in this study. 4 H ADULT VOLUNTEER any adult without salary or wages from Extension who is recognized by Extension as giving service to the 4 H program (Florida 4 H Program, 2014 ) . In this study, adult volunteers were club leaders. 4 H CLUB a group of five or more youth guided by one or more adults. 4 H clubs have planned programs throughout most of the year, meet at sched uled times and elect officers. 4 H clubs form in communiti es, in schools, in after school settings and on military installations. To be an official 4 H club, a charter application must be on file at the state 4 H office. Two main types of clubs exist in 4 H: community clubs and project clu bs (Florida 4 H Program , 2014 ). However, most 4 H clubs in Florida are registered as organized community clubs in the Florida 4 H database known as ES 237 (Florida 4 H Online).This study focused on leaders of community clubs. 4 H PROJECT a series of planned learning experience s within a particular area of youth interest lasting six hours or more (Jordan & Norman, 1999; Levings, 2014). Projects typically involve completing a project book and an end of year eptions on experiential learnin g in relation to club projects. 4 H MEMBER any youth 5 18 years of age who enrolls in 4 H and participates in a planned sequence of learning experiences (project) of six hours or more (Florid a 4 H Program, 2014 ). Th is study focused on community clubs. De scription available on line at: http://florida4h.org/policies/#membership . APPLY A stage in the experiential learning process that follows the experience and ref lection phases of the experiential learning cycle. Provides opportunities for learners to apply new knowledge to their own lives and then to real world situations in order to deepen and extend their understanding of the phenomenon (Carlson and Maxa, 1998). In this study, leaders were asked to describe situations where youth in their clubs had opportunities to connect their learning to their own life and t o new and different situations. CIVIC ENGAGEMENT This involves citizenship and leadership activities wh ere youth are involved in such exp eriences as 4 H Legislature (Leg ), 4 H Day at the Capitol, and Citizenship Washington Focus (CWF). In this study, leaders were asked to describe situations where club youth were involved in civic engagement programs.
31 COMMU NITY CLUBS clubs that cover a variety of topics and projects based on the interests of youth members (Florida 4 H Program, 2014) . Five community club leaders were selected for the focus of the study. COMMUNITY SERVICE l earning while in the process of p erforming service for others in the community through an organized program (Florida 4 H Program, 2014). In this study, leaders were asked to describe situations where club youth were involved in community service learni ng projects. EXPERIENCE an interact ion between an individual and the en vironment involving two factors objective experience and subjective internal conditions of the person. An experience is the interplay of these two factors (Dewey, 1934). In 4 H, the experience must include defined lear ning objectives (Smith, Schmitt McQuitty, Mahacek, & Worker, 2011). In this study, club leaders were asked to describe a variety of club experience s in which youth were involved. EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING (EL) the sense making process of active engagement be tween the inner world of the person and the outer world of the environment (Beard and Wilson, 2006). Experiential learning is the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience (Kolb, 1984, p. 38). In this study, components o f experiential learning were uncovered through the perceptions, understandings, and lived experiences of 4 H club leaders and youth. INFORMAL EDUCATION includes spontaneous or incidental learning that occurs through everyday experiences that are not plan ned or organized, such as, interactions with friends, famil y, and nature (Etling, 1993). INFORMAL SETTING includes those learning environments generally found outside of school settings, such as museums, aquariums, an d outdoor environments (Bell et al., 2009). ILLUSTRATED TALK promotional and informative talk given by youth. The topic could be about 4 H and/ or a project in which youth were involved. ( http://florida4h.org ). KNOWLEDGE the fact or condition of knowing something with familiarity gained through experience or association ( http://www.merriam webster.com/dictionary/knowledge understanding of experient ial learning was defined in terms of how they described various key components of the process through interviews. LEARNING the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience (Kolb, 1984). LEARNER CENTERED a learning proce ss where much of the control during the experience resides with the learner (Estes, 2004). In this study, interview
32 questions asked leaders to describe their experiences with club youth they viewed as being learner centered. LEARNING ENVIRONMENT includes the content material being covered and the surrounding physical environment. Learning environments involve relationships and have multiple layers that interact in different ways and at different levels with the learner (Chapman, McPhee, & Proudman,1992) N ONFORMAL EDUCATION H has been described as a nonformal education program. ORGA NIZATIONAL CLUB LEADER an adult volunteer that provides organizational leadership and supervision of 4 H club members. Together with youth, a club leader coordinates club activities, gives guidance and direction, and serves as the primary contact person for club (Florida 4 H Program Handbook, 1999). PRINCIPLE OF CONTINUITY every experience draws something from those experiences that have gone before and modifies in some way the quality of those experiences that follow (Dewey, 1938, p. 27). In this study , evidence of continuity was searched for in the transcribed interviews of club leaders. PRINCIPLE OF INTERACTION interaction between self and the environment (Dewey, 1938, p. 39). In this study, potential evid ence of interaction was searched for in the transcri bed interviews of club leaders. PROCESSING a guided reflection session that takes place following an experiential activity and typically consists of a discussion where the leader poses questions to part icipants to elicit answers/responses (Brown, 2002). Not to be confused with facilitating, processing refers to conducting a discussion or activity as a means to reflect on, learn from, and change as a result of an experience (Priest, Gass, & Gillis, 2000). In this study, leaders were asked to describe situations where youth we re able to process experiences. PROJECT BOOK supplemental materials/curriculum specific to a project and usually included in a completed re cord book ( http://florida4h.org ). PROJECT REPORT consists of complete record of 4 experiences an d club activities for the year ( http://florida4h.org ). PR OJECT CLUB LEADER an adult volunteer possessing a special skill or interest who guides and supports county 4 H project work and plans struct ured experiences around a topic ( http://florida4h.org ).
33 REFLECTION the second stage in the EL process. Reflection includes r eorganizing perceptions, forming new relationships, and influencing future thoughts and actions in order to learn from the exper ience (Sugerman et al., 2000). Reflection involves having the opportunity to share what happened and processing what was importa nt about the experience with others (Norman and Jordan, 2009). In this study, leaders were asked to describe their experiences using reflection following club experiences. STANDARDS OF EXCELLENCE provides a set of performance standards in order to help y outh plan their club year and set goals for achievement in 4 H . Standards are based on their age level in the club ( http://florida4h.org ) . Limitations of the Study This study targeted a purposive sample of 4 H club lead ers and youth in the Florida 4 H youth development p rogram. The data generated were specific to the participants of the study and may not be reflective of all 4 H club leaders, youth, and clubs in Florida. The findings were not intended to be generalized t o a larger population. Possible limitations in the study included : The findings of this study were based on the self reported perceptions and beliefs of leaders chosen for the study. Thus, the findings are based on each necessarily an objective reality. The essence of experiential learning in 4 H was presented only through the lens of the 4 H community club leader and not all 4 H delivery systems. Findings and analysis were based on the lived experiences of a selected nu mber of 4 H club leaders, rather than all Florida 4 H leaders and youth. Adherence to a phenomenological design required the researcher to lay aside (bracket) any existing beliefs and understandings about the phenomenon in order to better study how it has been experienced by others (Hatch, 2002). This helped the researcher to set aside preconceived beliefs prior to the study and view the data with a more open mind. A failure to do this would have presented a nother limitation to the study. The findings of t he study were based on interviews and field notes. Not being able to utilize a true phenomenological approach and make actual observations of a club over time or study documents that youth produced may have limited the ings, understandings, and perceptions of the phenomenon changed over time. However, this was not practical given the scope and timeline of the study.
34 Using a qualitative phenomenological interview approach allowed a greater in depth exploration of experien tial learning in the club setting, yet limited the number of participants/clubs targeted in the study. Condu cting additional phenomenological interviews may have uncovered additional understandings and perspectives on experiential learning and increased th e depth and breadth of the study. However, this was not practical given the scope and timeline of the study. As a result of these limitations, the findings of this study should not be generalized beyond the clubs and club leaders used in this study. Despit e these limitations, the clubs and club leaders selected for this study provided a wealth of data on experiential learning over a wide range of club contexts and experiences. These eriential learning and helped to increase its universality (Moustakas, 1994). Assumptions of the Study The researcher assumed that the participants in the study provided open and honest responses to the questions they were asked during the interviews and a ccurately described their perceptions, beliefs, and knowledge about experiential learning. Chapter Summary This chapter provided the need and background for the study. Experiential learning has been widely embraced as an effective and beneficial educationa l approach for youth. Nonformal education programs, such as 4 H, have long embraced the use of experiential learning approaches to foster positive youth development. Effective use of experiential learning in 4 H has required that 4 H club leaders, who have provided most of the teaching for 4 H clubs, fully understand and can effectively use experiential learning approaches. Yet, a lack of adequate or consistent training in experiential learning for club leaders has existed. Thus, a clearer understanding of how leaders
35 perceive and describe their use of experiential learning approaches within the club setting was warranted. An objective of this study was to ident ify gaps or weaknesses in how experiential learning has been integrated into club settings and pro vide recommendations for future training efforts in experiential learning.
36 CHAPTER 2 REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE Introduction Chapter 1 laid the groundwork for supporting this study by linking a number of ideas about experiential learning and learning in t he 4 H program. First, experiential learning has been widely embraced as an effective and beneficial educational approach for youth in nonformal education programs (Hamilton, 1980; Joplin, 1995; Russell, 2001). However, to achieve the best educational bene fit, the process should be guided by a skilled facilitator (Carlson & Maxa, 1998). Secondly, the 4 H program has long promoted the use of experiential learning practices to foster positive youth development. 4 H club leaders have been expected to use exper iential learning approaches within club settings. Yet, evidence has indicated that training in experiential learning has not been adequate or consistent for club leaders (Deppe & Culp, 2001; Fletcher, 1987). Studies on how experiential learning has been in tegrated into the club setting have been lacking. This study examined the perceptions and lived experiences of 4 H club leaders related to experiential learning in the 4 H club. This chapter lays the theoretical and conceptual framework for the study and r eviews literature related to the use of experiential learning approaches in both formal and nonformal education programs. Behaviorism, Constructivism, and Experiential Learning A number of researchers have viewed behaviorism as dominating curriculum devel opment and research (Goodson, 1990; Robottom & Hart, 1995). Behaviorists have
37 information, g aining a skill, or oth ers (Simmons, 1995, p. 124). DeL ay (1996) described that behaviorists have commonly assumed students learn because teachers teach or the program did something to the learner. He added that this treatment likely ignores the prior exper iences or understandings of the learner and does not account for how the content is p rocessed on a cognitive level. DeL ay (1996) explained that although all schools of learning theory suggest behavior changes through learning, perhaps the real question is who should be the change agent in the learning process ? Kolb (1984) believed that experiential learning starts from a different set of assumptions than behaviorism and falls more in line with constructivism. The application of constructivism to education h as been based on five tenets: invention, reflection, interpretation, social processing, and sense making of knowledge ( Clements & Battista, 1990). Constructivist learning theories have presented an epistemological foundation for what practitioners describe as occurring in experiential education (Simmons, 1995; DeLay, 1996; Doolittle & Camp, 1999). Constructivism, therefore, agrees that learners play an active role in creating their own knowledge, and that an experience (both individually and socially) is im portant in this knowledge creation process. Kolb (1984) believed that ideas are neither fixed nor immutable, but are formed and reformed of validity as a true represent ation of reality. In contrast to behaviorist models, constructivist learning places the action of learning with the learner (DeLay, 1996).That is, the learner should be the agent of change in his or her knowledge formation (DeL ay, 1996). From a pedagogical point of view, students learn not because teachers teach, but because they have taken prior
38 knowledge and reworked it based on new knowledge and experiences (DeLay, 1996). That is, learners construct meaning from their own experiences. Most experiential e ducators would deny the behaviorist approach (DeLay, 1996). Philosophically, constructivism relies on an epistemology that stresses subjectivism and relativism (Doolittle & Camp, 1999). This means that although a reality ience, it can only be known through experience. This provides individuals with their own unique reality. Quay (2003) emphasized that constructivism views learning as happening only in the individual. On the other hand, Doolittle and Camp (1999) described c onstructivism as lying on a continuum with cognitive constructivism lying at one end and radical constructivism lying at the other end. Cognitive constructivism assumes knowledge is objective and separate from the learner. A learner reconstructs knowledge of something based on what truly exists. Radical constructivism assumes that all knowledge is subjective and constructed within an individual learning. Social constructivism is viewed as lying in the middle, where knowledge is subjective but constructed th rough a shared social system (Doolittle & Camp, 1999 ). Doolittle and Camp (1999) further emphasized the social nature of knowledge. In their view, the acquisition of knowledge is the result of social interaction and communication. Knowledge is also situate d in an historical and cultural context. That is, knowledge and reality are created by social relationships and interactions. Doolittle and Camp (1999) provided eight essential principles as part of the constructivist pedagogy to help link theory and pract ice: Learning should take place in authentic and real world environments. 1. Learning should involve social negotiation and mediation. 2.
39 Content and skills should be made relevant to the learner. 3. Content and skills should be understood within the framework of 4. prior knowledge. Learners should be assessed formatively, serving to inform future learning 5. experiences. Learners should be encouraged to become self regulatory, self mediated, and 6. self aware. Educators should primarily serve as guides or fa cilitators of learning, not 7. instructors. Educators should provide for and encourage multiple perspectives and 8. representation of content. Dewey (1938) viewed all human experience as social in nature, because humans exist within a social environment. He saw education as a social process and advocated the nurturing of social relationships, especially between less mature and more mature individuals. These relationships facilitate greater interaction and c ommunication between people. DeL ay (1996) also supported a social constructivist perspective and put forth that those who live or work in the same culture will share similar constructs within the group. Thus, knowledge is a shared experience rather than an individual experience. The 4 H club is a shared social s ystem composed of youth and adult leaders interacting with one another. The researcher viewed the social and collaborative nature of the 4 H club as being more in alignment with social constructivist approaches. The club culture, context, structure, and th e social and col laborative relationships formed bring youth together in a supportive social learning environment. Thus, each club creates a unique but shared social system based on the background experiences, social setting, and interests of the club membe rs and their leader(s).
40 Carlson and Maxa (1998) provided that a constructivist perspective implies two outcomes for nonformal learning settings, such as 4 H. First, youth develop better abilities to apply their knowledge to their daily lives, and secondly, youth become better independent thinkers and are more self motivated . Experiential Learning Models A number of key individuals have significantly influenced the evolution and development of experiential learning. These have included John Dewey, Jean Piage t, Kurt Lewin, Laura Joplin, and David Kolb. The models they created to illustrate the process of experiential learning are described in the following sections. John Dewey is described the strong connection between personal experience and education (Dewey, 1938). Dewey, like Lewin, saw learning as a dialectic process which integrates (Figure 2 1), learning involves making observations from an experience, reflecting on that experience, and then forming new ideas or concepts based on those reflections and pre existing knowledge. Reflective thought consists of thinking and considering a subject or phen omenon and connecting it to both past and future actions. The tion until observation and judg ment have taken place is necessary for purpose to be achieved (Kolb, 1984; Dewey, 1938). The model is driven by the impulse of experience, whic h gives ideas their moving force, and in turn, the ideas give direction to impulse. Dewey described experiential learning not as a cycle but as a spiral, whereby a learner uses past knowledge to inform future choices, thus creating a personal learning cont inuum for a learner (White, 2012).
41 Jean Piaget was a Swiss psychologist who studied the nature of intelligence and how it developed. He became interested in the reasoning processes of children, rather than the correctness of their answers. H is Theory of Cognitive Development claimed that intelligence is shaped by experience, and intelligence is not innate in a person but development from a small child to a 23). learn by interacting with their environment, their pe ers, and educators. The learner then transforms these experiences through assimilation. His model (Figure 2 2) has been . model (Figure 2 3). First provides personal meaning to abstract concepts. Second, action research and labo ratory training are based on feedback processes. The feedback process provides directed action and evaluation of the processes are important for learning to be effective. Lewin also had ideas about how experiential learning occurred in social settings and that the process was influenced by the level of group development and the setting in which learning wa s taking place. His model and philosophy have been viewed as
42 holding meaning for those organizations involved in leading and conducting experiential education pr ograms (Smith & Leeming, 2009). stage Model Joplin (1981) asserted that all learning is experiential and d escribed experiential learning as a five stage model. According to Joplin, experiential programs should be based on two components: providing an appropriate experience for t he learner and facilitating reflection on that experience. Joplin asserted that an experience by itself is not enough to be called experiential learning or experiential education. The reflection process turns an experience into experiential learning. Joplin called this process the ongoing and are constantly building on previous experiences. Upon completion of one cycle, another one begins. Based on this model, experiential learning is continuous and life long learning. (Figure 2 4) is illust rated by a hurricane like design, which phase where the educator presents the task to learners and gets them prepared for the e importance of orienting the learner to the action phase, but cautioned the educator not to provide too many specifics that would rule out unplanned learning. The action stage places the learner in a stress situation and/or presents a problem to solve and requires the use of new skills or knowledge. Joplin saw the action stage as involving the learner with the subject through a physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, or other dimension and giving them great responsibility.
43 Joplin further stated that all ex relationship with the topic. For learning to occur, the learner must have opportunities to investigate those relationships. The process is learner based rather than teach er based. Learning starts with th e learner and proceeds at his or her own pace. Joplin stressed that if adequate support and feedback are provided throughout the learning process, the learner continues to try and can move ahead (Joplin, 1981). tial learning was built upon the work of Dewey. incorporated concepts from other models into his own. His model (Figure 2 5) illustrates four components of the experiential learning cycle: concrete experience, reflective observation, abstract conceptualization, and active experimentation. The concrete abstract concepts and provide a focal point for learning and a reference point for testing the implications and validity of ideas created sufficient for learning someth ing must be done with it. There must be an opportunity to Similarly, the experience must be transformed or acted upon in a way that generalizations about the principles related to th e experience, and thus, transform the meaning of the experience. The final stage of active experimentation requires the
44 transfer and application of principles formed by the learner to a new situation. Kolb explained that as learners move through the phases of the cycle, their thinking becomes more complex, and the ideas formed from concrete experiences can transform into abstract ideas. Characteristics of Experiential Learning Joplin (1981) clarified the philosophy of experiential learning by describing eig ht characteristics of the process. Learning is personal The learner as a feeling, valuing, and perceiving individual 1. is stressed. Experiential learning is both process and product oriented How a learner 2. arrives at an answer, and not just the answer its elf, is considered important. Evaluation for internal and external reasons The internal (or self) evaluation of 3. an experience by the learner, and not just the external evaluation done by educators, is important. Holistic understanding and component ana lysis The analysis of experiential 4. education phenomena involves both holistic and descriptive methods to study experiential learning qualities, as well as statistical equations. Organized around experience Learners develop meaning from an experience. 5. J oplin felt it was important to enlist learner participation in choosing topics, thus organizing courses around Perception based rather than theory based Learners are allowed to express or 6. explain a subject, rather than reci te Individual based rather than group based Emphasis is on the indivi 7. development and growth. Similarly, Kolb (1984) described four propositions of experiential learning based on the models presented. Learning is bes t conceived as a process, not in terms of outcomes. This 1. emphasis distinguishes experiential learning from traditional or behavioral theories of learning.
45 Learning is a continuous process grounded in experience. The learner 2. through new experiences. That is, new experiences build on past experiences. The process of learning requires the resolution of conflicts between dialectically 3. opposed modes of adaptation to the world. The models of Dewey, Lewin, and Piaget described learn ing as the result of the resolution of conflict between concrete experience and abstract concepts and from the conflict between and conflict Learning is a ho listic process of adaptation to the world. Learning does not solely 4. involve the human function of cognition or perception but integrates the total being to include thinking, fee ling, perceiving, and behaving. The 4 H Experiential Learning Model The experie ntial learning model (Figure 2 6) was adopted by 4 H in the late 1970s (Carlson & Maxa, 1998) from models described by Kolb (1984) and Pfie ffer and Jones (1985). The 4 H p rogram has relied heavily upon this experiential learning model to help youth learn l ife skills and subject matter knowledge (Norman & Jordan, 2009). Through this model, youth are able to guide their learning and discovery. Although variations exist, the five steps of the 4 H experiential learning model have been described as follows (Levi ngs, 2014; Norman & Jordan, 2009): Experience. Participants experience the activity by performing or doing it. This step requires the leader to select a concrete, hands on activity that focuses attention on the learner rather than the leader or teacher. Th e leader does not direct the activity but let learners determine how to do something themselves before sharing the experience with others. Share. Participants share the experience with others by describing what happened or what they did. This phase requires the leader to ask learners questions,
46 including : What did you do? What did you see or feel? What was difficult to do? What was easy for you to do? Process. Participant s process the experience to determine what was most important and to identify common themes. In this phase, questions and discussion focus on the process of the experience or activity. The primary purpose of processing is to help youth construct meaning fr om the experience. Questions may include: What steps were involved in doing the experience/activity? What problems or issues came up? How did you solve or address these issues? Generalize. Participants generalize from the experience and relate it to their daily lives. In this phase, the questions focus on what the experience meant to the youth and what they learned. These questions may focus on the subject matter and/or the life skills that were practiced as a result. Questions have included: What did you learn from the activity? How did what you learn relate to other things or topics you have been learning about? What similar experiences have you had? Apply. Participants apply what they learned to their lives. The learners take what they have learned and a pply it to a new situation, which may be under different circumstances. Questions asked of learners include: How does what you have learned relate to other parts of your life? How can you use what you have learned? How can what you learned be applied to a future situation in your life? Leaders facilitating the process need to be very aware of the stage or step of the experiential model youth are working in and be prepared to ask the right questions at the right time (Norman & Jordan, 2009). Within 4 H t hese steps have often been
47 This study examined the perceptions of 4 H club leaders about experiential learning and their exp eriences related to using the experiential learning model in the club settin g. Other attributes or components of the experiential learning process not described within the 4 H model, yet identified within the 4 H club context, were also examined. Conceptual Model for Study A conceptual model describing the experiential learning pr ocess in the 4 H community club setting was developed prior to the onset of the study. The model was then revised based on the findings of the study. The conceptual model (Figure 2 7) illustrates the 4 H club as a defined system within a given context and social setting based on the past experiences, social relationships, and interests of members and the club leader. Each club is expected to meet and conform to the characteristics and requirements of being a 4 H club. Each club may be composed of youth of v arying ages, bac kgrounds, and family dynamics. Each young person within a club has his or her own set of perceptions, beliefs, attitudes, interests, social relationships, and lived experiences related to learning in the 4 H club context. Similarly, each cl ub is led by an adult leader with his/her own set of skills, knowledge, perceptions, beliefs, attitudes, and experiences related to experiential learning in 4 H. The 4 H club setting blends youth and adults together in a shared learning experience. The clu b is a social environment consisting of social interactions, group learning, and a standard way of doing things within the club setting. This blend provides a unique setting, culture, and learning environment for youth and leaders. This researcher believed that experiential learning within the 4 H club was a H
48 literature but was also influenced by multiple factors and not just whether or not leaders received actual training on t h e experiential learning model. The context of the club setting; the interactions of leaders and youth; and the perceptions, beliefs, and past experiences of leaders, as well as youth, interact to shape the learning processes that occur in 4 H clubs. The 4 H p rogram has viewed a 4 H club as a delivery system that offers a variety of venues for experiential learning to occur over time. These venues include, but are not l imited to, project work , competitive events, c ivic engagement , leadership, and service le arning. Club leaders are expected to facilitate and guide the learning process across these venues. How do club leaders perceive and describe experiential learning as taking place within the club and across these venues? To explore this phenomenon, a quali tative approach was best suited for this study. Previous Research As a nonformal education program, 4 H has been dependent on adult volunteers to lead quality club programs for youth. This has required training club leaders in club management and programma tic opportunities. Many studies in 4 H have focused on what leaders need to know in order to lead quality club programs. Many other studies have focused on what youth have learned as a result of their club experience. However, this researcher was more inte rested in exploring and documenting how experiential learning processes were integrated into the 4 H club. A better understanding of how learnin g has been taking place in 4 H may help the program improve how outcomes are achieved. The following sections pr esent relevant studies based on the conceptual model and describe studies exploring the perceptions and experiences of leaders, youth, and other educators within other settings with experiential learning.
49 Use of Experiential Learning in 4 H Studies related to how experiential learning is perceived by 4 H volunteer leaders have been limited in scope or lacking. However, a recent study by Bechtel, Ewing, Threeton, & Mincemoyer (2013) examined the knowledge and use of experiential learning approaches among Ext ension educators and volunteers in the Pennsylv ania 4 H program. Through a two part Likert type survey, participants were asked to respond to questions to assess their knowledge of the experiential learning cycle. The second part of the survey asked partic ipants to indicate how often they used specific experiential learning components in a given situation. Their findings indicated that less ated to learning in 4 H clubs. The study also pointed out that although leaders expressed a low level of knowledge about experiential learning, et al., 2013, Conc lusion section, para. 2). Yet, e xtension educators in the study perceived a lower level of use of experiential learning techniques by their volunteer leaders. The study suggested that efforts be made to insure both e xtension educators and leaders better understand the experiential learning process and effectively communicate how the steps are actually being utilized. The study recommended that leaders have proper training in experiential learning to insure that 4 H members are receiving h igh quality learning experiences. Finally, the study recommended that case studies and direct observations of leaders and club members be conducted in order to determine if experiential learning approaches are being used and in the correct manner according to the experiential learning model. Given these recommendations by Bechtel et al., (2013), this study
50 further explored the phenomenon of experiential learning in 4 H clubs through interviews with leaders. These interviews uncovered what leaders knew about experiential learning model, their experiences using the approach with club youth, and how they perceived learning as occurring through the process. Volunteer Training in Experiential Learning Studies have indicated that inconsistencies exist in the type s or amounts of training offered to volunteers (Fox, Hebert, Martin, & Bairnsfather, 2009). Most studies and projects (Cook, Kiernan, & Ott, 1986; Fox et al., 2009) . In li ght of this concern, a number of studies have looked at the importance of training volunteers in 4 H. Proper training and orientation have been important in preparing leaders for their role in the 4 H program (Fox et al., 2009). Studies have shown that pro per training of volunteers improved their knowledge, skills, and abilities to deliver effective club programs (Cook, Kierman, & Ott, 198 6; Fox et. al., 2009; Hoover & Connor, 2001; Smith, Dasher, & Klingborg, 2005; Van Wi nkle, Busler, Bowman, & Manoogian, 2002). Snider (1985) stated that effective volunteer training strengthens county based programs and can make volunteers better educators. He further stated that proper pr ograms they lead. However, most studies related to training volunteers have failed to point out the need for training volunteers in the proper use of experiential learning techniques. A study by Fox et al., (2009) determined what volunteers felt were the m ost
51 the ranking. A study by Van Winkle et al., (2002) assessed the effectiveness of training on new 4 H leaders. Post training questionnaires indicated that at least 78% had planned and conducted 4 or philosophy. Yet, the study provided little information on how leaders actually integrated experiential learning approaches as a result of their training. Another stud y by Enfield, Schmitt McQuitty, and Smith (2007) evaluated the effectiveness of experi ential learning workshops for 4 H volunteer leaders. The series of three workshops introduced leaders to the experiential learning cycle, inquiry based methods, hands on methods, and how to develop and adapt curricula to integrate experiential learning. Th e workshops provided participants with opportunities to explore, question, share, reflect, and process their experiences. Based on post workshop surveys, participants increased their knowledge and understanding of experiential learning and the learning cyc le. A follow up survey was conducted, and over 50% of the leaders that participated indicated they changed their teaching approach as a result of what they learned. However, actual observations or follow up case studies were not done to verify these change s in their teaching approaches. Preferred Training Approaches Richardson (1994) reported that volunteers, like Extension educators, have preferred to gain new knowledge and skills through experiential learning opportunities. He recommended that Extension p rograms include delivery methods that provide hands learners with any information presented. Richardson also found the learning process
52 was further enhanced by allowing learners opp ortunities to discuss any information presented with others. Konen and Horton (2000) stated the most effective training programs are those which provide hands on experiences and those where educators have opportunities to experience an activity in the same way children might experience it. This helps teachers see an activity from both a teaching and learning perspective. Smith (2008) described the importance of using constructivism as a theoretical approach to training 4 H volunteers. He indicated that cons tructivism provides the learner with an opportunity to challenge current thinking and develop new explanations relative to their understanding of a subject and the way they would teach it. Secondly, constructivism, as a learner centered approach, considers knowledge, race, culture, and other personal internal conditions. Finally, using a learner centered, constructivist approach in training opportunities helps volunteers model the process and apply the same approach with their club youth (Smith, 2008). Perceptions on Learning in 4 H Club Settings The 4 H program has long promoted the use of experiential learning to teach youth life and workforce readiness skills. Thus, most 4 H studies have focused only on what youth have learned or gaine d from their 4 H club or project experiences (Barker, Nugent, Grandgenett, & Hampton, 2008; Boleman, Cummings, & Briers, 2004; Fox, Schroeder, & Lodl, 2003; Guion & Rivera, 2006; Guion & Rivera, 2008; Holmgren & Reid, 2007; Locke, Boyd, Fraze, & Howard, 20 07; Ward, 1996). Studies on where and how experiential learning has occurred in a club setting have been lacking. Boyd, Herring, and Briers (1992) found that youth perceived they had gained positive leadership skills as a result of their participation in 4 H. A study by Fitzpatrick, Gagne, Jones, Lobley, and Phelps (2005) interviewed 4 H alumni and adult leaders to
53 measure the long term impact of 4 H involvement on life skill development. Results indicated that life skills were learned as a result of being involved in specific 4 H projects while they were enrolled. A study by Walker, Morgan, Ricketts, and Duncan (2011) identified the life skills youth developed in beef cattle projects in 4 H. Although theoretical framework for the study, the findings described what youth learned but not how or what specific processes of experiential learning were involved. A study by Gregoire (2004) examined the club experiences from the perspectives of club youth and t he adults involved. The researcher utilized focus groups for youth and semi structured interviews for the adults. One of the themes that emerged from the researcher, th e findings confirmed that 4 H youth learn through hands on projects and reflection. Adult volunteers who worked with club youth in the study described that learning. T he study also revealed that participating in 4 H allowed them to make their own choices and plan their learning experiences. Another study by Ferra r i, Lekies, an d Arnett (2009) explored youth perspectives on their long term part icipation in an urban 4 H pr ogram. Although most of the findings related to the benefits of their experiences on their personal development and learning, evidence of experiential learning was noted. One theme that emerged from the study was that of learning being transferred to other settings. Youth participants indicated that what they learned th rough their 4 H experience was applied to other areas of their life.
54 Cloverbuds, the youngest members of 4 H, are five to seven years old. A study by Ferrari, Hogue, and Scheer (2004) explore in Cloverbuds. Although a number of benefits and life skills were identified, the study noted that parents felt their children had opportunities to do things on their own through hands on activities, an importan t component of the experiential learning process. Some studies in 4 H have looked at specific components of the experiential learning process in the context of specific club venues. In 4 H, youth have often had opportunities for civic engagement through se rvice learning. Community service matter they are learning, along with critical thinking skills, to address genuine community needs (Smith, 1997, p. 3). A study by St afford, Boyd, and Lindner, (2003) determined the reflection component used in service learning was more effective than community service without reflection in teaching youth life skills. Their findings indicated that having an opportunity for reflection ha perceived learning of leadership skills. On the other hand, a similar study by Locke, Boyd, Fraze, and Howard (2007) examined the effect of service learning on leadership skills. The study found the presence or absenc e of the reflection component did not have a significant effect on the perceived leadership skills of the youth involved. In a study by Boyd (2001), youth practiced leadership skills using experiential learning approaches. Afterwards, youth were asked to r eflect on their experience and then apply their new skills in planning a service learning component. The study identified these skills and described how youth applied them in their service learning project. Based on his findings, the author felt that combi ning experiential learning with
55 an opportunity for youth to actually apply the knowledge and skills they learned appeared to be an effective method for teaching youth leadership skills. Another study by Hairston (2004) used the reflection component of expe riential learning cycle to determine what 4 H youth learned as a result of their experience. In the study youth used a written reflection instrument to elicit responses to open ended questions. The instrument provided a source of data on learning outcomes for youth related to the project. Schwartz, Tessman, and McDonald (2013) assessed the value of project based learning (PBL) in youth development. PBL models have been described as student centered and process based, involving group learning to solve proble ms (Raisch, Holdsworth, Mann, & Kabat, 1995). Through a series of reflective interviews with university students enrolled in various project, findings indicated that participants felt PBL had personal value as a hands on relevant learning experience and th at they could apply what they learned to their own work. Experiential learning has also been used in helping youth develop entrepreneurial skills. A special camp program was the subject of a study by Biers, Jensen, and Serfustini, (2006). The purpose of th e program was to provide youth with situations where they could recognize business opportunities, establish currency, and make their own decisions about a business. As part of the process, they reflected on their experiences as a group and determined how t o apply what they learned. Results indicated that 83% of the youth involved wanted to start a business as an adult. The authors concluded that the experiential learning processes used in the study influenced the aspirations of youth and helped them learn s ubject matter as well as life skills.
56 Experiential Learning in Other Informal Settings Experiential learning has also been a major educational approach in other nonformal and informal education programs, such as outdoor and environmental education programs . Again, most studies involving experiential learning in these contexts have focused on the benefits and outcomes of using this approach and less on the actual processes involved in experiential learning. For example, a study by McLeod and Allen Craig (200 7) evaluated the effectiveness of an experiential learning and outdoor education program on life skill learning in middle school. An outdoor education component provided youth with an out of school experience and included preparation and debriefing days. S tudents were allowed to choose their outdoor learning option and were given a range of challenging activities. Findings indicated the outdoor education program was significantly better at facilitating growth and skills in youth than the non outdoor educati on program. However, the specific processes of experiential learning were not well identified or described in the study. Another study by Taniguchi and Freeman (2004) used a phenomenological approach to examine the attributes of an outdoor education progra m for meaningful learning processes. The study found the phenomenon of meaningful learning depended on the offering of challenging experiences that pushed individuals to realize their own abilities, shortcomings, and potentials. Attributes identified in th e data were perceived difficulties of the outdoor activity, peer relationships, levels of competency, environmental influences, sensory perceptions, and time for reflections. Dick son and Gray (2006) explored different approaches used by experiential educat ors to facilitate the processing of experiential learning activities. The study found
57 the approach used to process experiences with the learners was more influenced by the learning styles of the facilitators than the actual preferences or learning styles o f the learner. For example, the most common reflective activity involved large or whole group discussions, regardless of the size or type of program, length, or client group. The authors indicated this approach had greater appeal to those with an auditory learning style, but other learning styles exist. The recommendation was that experiential learning facilitators need to focus more broadly on the learning styles of the learner, rather than their own. Yet, limited research has been conducted on how this af fects the debriefing/reflection process. Experiential Learning in Formal Settings Education reform in the late 20 th century fostered the application of experiential learning in school settings (Powell & Wells, 2002). As a result, the use of experiential le arning has been studied in formal learning environments, such as agricultural education classes, science classes, college and university courses, teacher education classes, nursing internships, and social study classes, among others. In these environments, experiential learning has taken many forms, including cooperative learning, practicum experiences, hands on laboratory activities, field studies, exchange studies, and even community service learning. Although most studies have described the benefits and impacts of using experiential lear ning in these settings (Ives & Obenchain, 2006; Mabie & Baker, 1996; McGlinn, 2010; Powell & Wells, 2002 ; Weinberg, Basile, & Albright, 2011), some have examined the learning processes within the cycle. Only those studies with possible relevance to this study have been mentioned .
58 I n school based agricultural e ducation . Experiential learning has been an integral part of secondary and university agricultural education programs (Roberts, 2006). A variety of studies has examine d aspects of experiential learning in this context. Arnold, Warner, and Osborne (2006) examined the use of experiential learning in secondary agricultural education classrooms. They conducted interviews of agricultural nowledge and understanding of experiential perceived role in the process. Their findings suggested that teachers lacked substantial prior knowledge about experiential learning, yet u tilized experiential learning activities during their classes. Although the phases of experiential learning were viewed as being model. However, teachers viewed their role no t as a teacher, but more as a facilitator in the process of learning. Teachers also recognized the benefits of experiential learning for students, such as better subject matter retention, use of higher order thinking skills, active engagement, and academic success. model to assess evidence of experiential learning in courses that used teaching or demonstration farms to educate farmers on best practices. The course syllabi provided the framework for the study. Findings were presented based on the presence of the four concrete experience, reflective observation, abstract conceptualization, and active experimentation. Their findings indic ated that each stage of the cycle was found in the syllabi. Concrete experience and active experimentation were more evident than reflective observation and abstract
59 conceptualization. The difficulty existed in distinguishing between active experimentation and concrete experience. The authors explained that course topics and activities built on each other and there was a progression of learning through the part model, where he described exper iential learning as cyclical and spiral like, where the concrete experience stage and active experimentation stage are combined. The authors also pointed out the experiential learning process may not always occur in the order illustrated in the models. A s tudy by Shoulders and Myers (2013) described how agricultural teachers uti experiential learning cycle during laboratory instruction. Findings indicated that over half of the teachers were able to engage students in activitie respondents in the study. The majority of respondents planned activities that utilized three out of the four stages. The researchers recommended that experiential learning in agricultural laboratories could be enhanced by including activities that enable the student to both grasp information and transform the experience. Shoulders, Blythe, a of experiential learning attributes in agricultural laboratories. A variety of attributes were attributes con sidered the place, space, activities, stimulation of the senses, and the social and emotional dynamics of the learners. Their findings indicated that teachers felt experiential learning attributes were important to integrate into learning activities in
60 agr icultural laboratories. Teachers stated that giving the students ownership of the laboratory activity was an important lesson based attribute. Teachers also viewed their role as a facilitator during experiential learning activities. However, teachers in th e study continuity, where all experiences are influenced by those that come before, is cri tical in helping learners make the connection between the two experiences. The authors recommended that teacher educators provide adequate training to help teachers suggested that helping teachers see the value in experiential learning might lead to better experiential learning integration in lessons. The authors suggested future (2006) as a s tarting point for exploring experiential learning attributes beyond the learning cycle described by Kolb (1984). Other studies looked at components of experiential learning and how they were used in a par ticular application. Lamm et al . (2011) studied refl ective journaling during an agricultural education study course in Costa Rica. The study found that one form of reflective practice may not fit the needs of all learners. Depending on their learning style, some learners did not reflect as deeply as others in their journals. Based on their research, the authors recommended that educators consider using a variety of reflective practices to accommodate different learning styles in individual learners during an experiential learning activity or program. For exa mple, if writing in a journal is not a
61 preferred method for reflection, the learner may feel more comfortable reflecting through a social group session. Roberts and Harlin (2007) reviewed historical and contemporary literature on the in agricultural education classes and courses. They described this approach as aligning with constructivism and experiential learning theory. They identified six themes as a result: 1) purpose of projects, 2) project classification, 3) the process, 4) the context, 5) i ndividual versus group projects, Based on their review, they indicated that the project method provided the learner with the ability to apply concepts taught in class. They also stated the experiential learning meth od has two dimensions found in the project method process and context. They consistent with experiential learning theory as described by Kolb (1984). Roberts and H arlin (2007) recommended that educators be trained in appropriate experiential learning processes in order to better implement the project method with students for the greatest learning benefits. In other formal settings. Most studies on experiential learn ing in the classroom have focused on the benefits and impacts of using the approach in classroom lessons. For example, Ives and Obenchain (2006) attempted to study the effects of using experiential learning approaches compared to more traditional approache s on higher and lower order thinking skills in a group of 12 th grade students in high school government classes. The study sought to demonstrate greater improvement in higher order thinking skills for students in the classes using experiential learning app roaches. However, their findings indicated mixed and inconclusive results. Powell and Wells
62 (2002) compared the effects of three experiential learning lessons in meeting science standards (knowledge) from two nationally recognized curricula. They used Kolb (1984) experiential learning model as a framework for understanding the process of student engagement and learning. Pretests and posttests were given to ascertain knowledge and understanding of the content taught. Results indicated the experientially ba sed lessons had a significant positive effect on student knowledge. A number of studies have examined experiential learning processes within professional development p rograms. Marlow and McLain (2011 ) assessed the impacts of experiential learning on teache r classroom practice. Their study attempted to describe how teachers made meaning of their professional development experiences through several data sources, such as interviews, observations, completed journals, and personal narratives of their experiences . Impacts on the teachers included better content understanding, stronger sense of professional self, better communication, and personal growth. The experiences were described as being supported by individual anticipation, reflection, opportunities for cri tical analysis, and synthesis as part of the experiential learning process. A study by Konen and Horton (2000) explored the use of hands on learning in science teacher training programs. Their results supported the value of training teachers to experience curriculum components in the same manner as their students would. Being able to experience lessons through a hands on approach helped teachers to feel more comfortable using the same activities late r with their classes. Burke (2013) described a non traditi onal experiential approach to professional development or EPD. EPD provided teachers with opportunities to enhance their
63 teaching through demonstrations, observations, collaboration, fieldwork, and reflection. Teachers in the study believed that the experi ential design of the EPD made the training successful. Teachers indicated that the EPD promoted a collaborative community, due to the purposeful meetings, peer observations, and feedback from peers and students. alternative to classroom based university ). experiential learning model as a way to make learning exper iences more meaningful in an introductory college level education course. The model provided a framework for choosing the instructional activities for the class. Instructors provided a concrete experience first by giving students an opportunity for direct involvement in a school board meeting. This was followed by an opportunity for class reflection on their experience. The authors indicated these reflections were helpful in transforming each , more thorough understanding of the educational system. The next two phases of the class involved by research, role playing, and simulation exercises. Students in the s tudy indicated these simulation exercises helped them achieve a more in depth understanding of the educational systems of the United States. The study also pointed out that students were able to transfer their learning from the simulations to the real worl d. A number of studies have looked at specific components or attributes of the experiential learning process within a classroom . The process of reflection has been studied in multiple contexts. Reflection has been viewed as both a cognitive process
64 and a s tructured activity (Hatcher & Bringle, 19 97). For example, a study by White (2012) explored how college students in a leadership classes perceived the process of reflection and the various methods used for reflection (e.g., personal journals, discussion, p oster presentations, and group presentations). The author used a phenomenological approach and employed focus groups. Findings of the study indicated that students perceived (p. 147). Reflectio n helped the students make meaning of an experience and provided value clarification. Findings also indicated that students preferred to think and contemplate rather than write in journals. Group reflections were more preferred than individual reflections, due in part to the shared learning experience. Other findings described the challenges associated with the reflection process . Making time for they were not ready to reflect or were too tired to be emotionally engaged enough to do so. The study also pointed out the disconnect ion between the stated importance of reflection by study participants and the noted lack of time or desire for this to take place . White (2012 of experiential learning could contribute to improving the field of leadership and other programs that integrate leadership principles into their programs (such as 4 H). Another following an immersion service learning trip. Her findings indicated that although students did not generally like structured reflection, they provided positive feedback on the activities they did as part of the service learning. She also found students preferred reflection as unguided conversation versus structured activities.
65 Wallace and Oliver (2003) explored reflection as part of a school based methods course in college. Reflection has been viewed as a way for teachers to become more cognizant of their own personal beliefs, which helps them interpret new experiences in a more meaningful way (Carter & Doyle, 1996). The study investigated the journals of preservice science teachers to det ermine their usefulness in learning about science teaching. Analysis of the journals indicated that teachers focused on issues important to the teacher and the learning of science . However, the study also pointed out the journal entries progressed over tim e from superficial thinking and concerns to deeper concerns. Wallace and Oliver (2003) implied that journals are useful educational tools for teachers process emotions and reflec t on teaching. Chapter Summary This chapter provided an overview of the philosophical framework for the study by describing the roots of experiential learning. A number of experiential learning models and their components were described. Based on these mo dels, the components of experiential learning were identified and described. These included but were not limited to: 1) learners engage in a concrete experience, 2) experience is learner centered, 3) experience involves reflection and meaning making, and 4 ) the process involves continuity (Kolb, 1984; Joplin, 1981). This chapter also presented a number of studies within and outside the 4 H youth development program that explored the use of experiential learning practices, or specific attributes of the proce ss, within specific prog rams and settings. Chapter 3 will pres ent the methodology used in the study.
66 Figure 2 1. odel as conceptualized by Kolb (1984). Figure 2 2. evelopment (Kolb, 1984)
67 Figure 2 3. The Lewinian experiential learning m odel (modified from Kolb, 1984). Figure 2 odel of experiential learning (Joplin, 1981) .
68 Figure 2 ). Figure 2 6. 4 H experiential le arning model (modified from Pfieffer & Jones, 1985).
69 Figure 2 7. Preliminary c onceptual model of EL in 4 H clubs .
70 CHAPTER 3 RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS Introduction The purpose of this study was to explore experiential learning in 4 H clubs by the exam in in g the perceptions and experiences of 4 H club leaders. Chapter 1 described the reasons for the use of experiential learning approaches in nonformal education programs, such as 4 H. To best guide the learning process, a 4 H leader was described as needi ng to understand the process and play the role of a facilitator. The depth to which leaders understand experiential learning or how well they facilitate the process has not been well studied. Chapter 2 described the roots of experiential learning as aligni ng with constructivism (DeLay, 1996), where learners construct meaning from their experiences. Based on a variety of models presented, the components of experiential learning were identified and described. These included but were not limited to: 1) learner s engage in a concrete experience, 2) experience is learner centered, 3) experience involves reflection and meaning making, and 4) the process involves continuity (Kolb, 1984, Joplin, 1981). Chapter 2 presented a number of studies within and outside 4 H th at explored the use of experiential learning practices within a specific program or setting. Based on a review of literature, studies on the actual use of the experiential learning model (or specific components of the process) within the 4 H program have b een very limited. Chapter 3 presents an overview of the phenomenological approach. Also included is the researcher subjectivity statement, a description of the phenomenological methodology used in the study, an explanation for the selection of participants and
71 clubs for the study, a description of the interview process and data collection methods, measures of validation and trustworthiness, and the procedures required for the data analysis. Qualitative Approach This study explored and examined how leaders c ome to know and describe experiential learning, how they perceive and describe their experiences using experiential learning approaches, and how they perceive that youth learn through experiential learning. A qualitative research approach was best suited f or this study for a number of reasons. Quantitative research stems from a positivist philosophy general Razavieh, & Sorensen, 2006). These principles can be applie behavior. Qualitative research is rooted in phenomenology, which views social reality as experiences are personal and difficult to describe throug h a positivistic science model. Qualitative approaches are best used when a more detailed understanding of the phenomenon needs to be explored, and variables that are difficult to measure need to be identified (Creswell, 2013). Ary et al. (2006) described that qualitative researchers it down into variables This researcher viewed the process of experiential learning in 4 H as being a very complex phenomenon with many vari ables and dimensions that have been difficult to quantify or even identify . this study, is to develop a more holistic understanding of the phenomenon (of numeric analysi t al., 2006, p. 31). The researcher felt the phenomenon of experiential learning in the 4 H club would best
72 be studied through the lived experiences of those most involved with the phenomenon the 4 H club leader. Thus, to best explore th e research questions and gain a richer description of experiential learning within the 4 H club setting, a qualitative, phenomenological research design was used for this study. The researcher felt this approach would yi eld a deeper understanding of experi ential learning and identify important variables and contextual components associated with it. Phenomenological Approach Phenomenology is a philosophical approach to the study of experience (Smith, Flowers, & Larken, 2012). This approach examines how indiv iduals understand certain situations or phenomena. This helps researchers form a more holistic understanding of understanding of how leaders view and perceive experienti al learning in the club context was the goal of this study. Creswell (2013) suggested that using a phenomenological approach for a study is appropriate when it is important to understand how several individuals make meaning of their common or shared experi ences with a phenomenon. Club leaders in this study were able to share their experiences with youth in similar club venues such as learning through projects, civic engagement, community service, and leadership activities. ith the assumption that multiple realities does not focus on the life of the individual but rather on their understanding of their lived experiences related to a phenom enon of interest (Creswell, 2013). Understanding these common experiences would be helpful in order to develop new practices or policies related to the features of the phenomenon (Creswell, 2013). Crotty (2013) indicated that
73 using a phenomenological appro ach can lead to new insights and a deeper understanding about a phenomenon of interest. A better understanding of how experiential learning is viewed by leaders may provide 4 H with new perspectives on volunteer training needs. Thus, a phenomenological app roach was considered an appropriate methodology for this study . human beings come to understand the world through direct experience. You come to know something by consciously ex amining it and testing your feelings and perceptions judging as evidence of scientific investigation (Moustakas, 1994). This approach provided 4 H club leaders in the st udy with opportunities to share their feeling s and thoughts on the phenomenon of experiential learning . Crotty (2003, p. als have made through their experiences with a particular phenomenon of interest. Crotty (2003) Marshall and Rossman (2006) provided that the purpose of phenomenology is to try to understand the experience of a few in order to gain a broader u nderstanding of the phenomenon. Moustakas (1994) also described phenomenology as a way to uncover the meaning participants have made from their experiences in order to identify the essence
74 underlying structure explained that textural descriptions convey what people experience but structural descriptions convey ho situations, or cont hese combined the experience. This approach helped the researcher to uncover not just what was experienced by the leader b ut the structure and context underlying the experiences they uncovered. characterizes a phenomenon and w ithout which it could not be Essence underlines the universal quality of the experience through both subjective and objective aspects presented i n the descriptions (Marshall & Rossman, 2006; Moustakas, 1994). Creswell (2013) provided that there are similar phases of grief people will go through when they experience the loss of a loved one, no matter whether it is a puppy, a parakeet, or a child. The essence or stages of grief are essentially t he same. This study sought to uncover the essence of experiential learning in the 4 H club. to uncover and describe the structures, the internal meaning structures, of lived exper xperiences (Bloomberg & Volpe, 2012). This required the researcher to address the concept of
75 intent ionality (Crotty, 2003) in which the researcher laid aside any existing beliefs or ideas related to the phenomenon in order to focus more on how the participants viewed the phenomenon, which in this study were their experiences and perceptions related to e xperiential learning. Critical to using a phenomenological approach is the practice of epoche by the her to reflect on her own personal assumptions about the phenomenon of interest during the study, in this case experiential learning. This researcher had to set aside her preconceived perceptions and views about experiential learning in the club and be ope n to new insights and descriptions provided by participants of the study. This was done in order to be able to better examine the phenomenon from an unbiased viewpoint (Crotty, 2003). Researcher Subjectivity Statement The subjectivity statement expresses t what he or she is examining (Glesne, 2011). As a 4 H professional pursuing a study on the use of experiential learning within 4 H, I have attempted to bracket many of my own perceptions and beliefs on experientia l learning based on my own experiences as a formal and nonformal science educator. My deep interest in experiential learning stems from my own discoveries about learning over the course of my career in education. I became a high school science teacher beca use I loved teaching and have a deep interest in the natural sciences, especially animals, nature, and the ocean. I taught biology, earth science, marine science, and environmental science. In the beginning of my teaching career, I was on a
76 steep learning curve. This meant I had to study and understand the sa me information as my students. I was often only a day or two ahead of my students in learning the material. What I learned, I applied to teaching. Thus, I was both teacher and learner for many years in the classroom. I believed that if I were an enthusiastic teacher, I could inspire their young minds to want to do well in my class. I tried to present the materials through interesting lessons that included slide presentations, lectures, hands on labs, wor ksheets, discussion groups, scenarios, current events, group projects, science projects, and an occasional activities wherever I could. But there was so much I had to teach and cover in the course of the school year. I felt each class had to be rich in subject matter content. I had goals to reach and I had to get there by the end of each semester. I expected my students to keep up and learn study skills on their own. At the end of each day, I often do differently the next time. I enjoyed interacting with my students and found each class to be unique in the sense that each class had realized that social relationships played an important role in the classroom culture and that these relationships influenced the learning process, either positively or negatively. Although I tried to be fair and understanding of these relationships, I felt these social distractions were, at times, not conducive to learning. I saw myself as the authority in the classroom and laid down strict ground rules for behavior, including socializing in class. I needed the students to focus on the lessons, and interruptions were at times
77 problematic. I feared that because I had so much to cover during the school year, I would run out of time. In reflecting back on these classroom relationships, perhaps I could h ave better utilized the social contexts within the class to foster learning. ng those students who had diff iculty with the class subject. If improv But I was not sure how I could help them do this. I just hoped that their desir e to improve would push them to study more, or that with the encouragement of family, friends, or their counselor, they would learn these skills over time. In any case, I feel I failed to help these students achieve their real potential. Somewhere during t he midpoint of my teaching career, I obtained a school district grant to support science learning. As a result, my marine science classes were able to conduct actual marine science projects in the field. We utilized a large charter water chemistry, tidal cu rrents, types of plankton, ocean depth and bottom types. Each team of students came up with their own questio ns to investigate. Each team researched the equipment they needed in order to investigate their question. They made a list of the equipment and mat erials. I then ordered what was needed using the funds from the grant. I found that when given this opportunity for self direction, the students became more engaged as learners, both on the boat and in the classroom.
78 They collected and analyzed their data as a team. Each team presented its results to project. I was impressed and saw my students in a new light. Although I was still the teacher and in a role of authority, I fo und the class shifted from being teacher centered to more learner centered. Instead of me telling them what they needed to know, they were telling me what they had done and had learned. I was learning from them. I received the grant for a second year with another class and got similar results. The experience made me rethink how I approached teaching students. The grant program ended so I was no longer able to take my students out on boats. However, through these experiences I realized the benefits of allowi ng my students to become more self directed as learners. I also realized that learning was less about how I taught something, or my own enthusiasm, but more about how the learner was engaged in the process of learning. Although as a teacher I was not yet f amiliar must have been present in thes e research experiences for the students . After 16 years in the classroom, I left Florida, as well as classroom teaching, and moved to the state of W ashington. I was hired by Washington State University (WSU) Cooperative Extension as an outreach educator for a drinking water/water quality education program targeting rural residents. I was introduced to the world of agriculture, livestock, septic system s, pesticides , and other potential nonpoint pollution sources found around homes and farms. I took on the role of a nonformal educator and worked with rural families through community workshops, water festivals, outreach events, and volunteer training prog rams. I was out of my comfort zone in geographic location,
79 matter. How could I teach people about drinking water and non point pollution, if I had had no direct experience s with these topics or the issues associated with them? Fortunately, WSU provided me with multiple opportunities to learn facilitation techniques and helped me connect with those who were experts in these topics. As a result, I was more able to embrace my and confidence level grew. I often had opportunities to visit large and small farms and had my own moments of experiential learning. I was again, a co learner and learned about many aspects of drinking wa ter, water quality, groundwater, and soils. But I never became an expert. Instead, I developed connections and working relationships with extension specialists that had the expertise to enhance the drinking water education activities that I developed as pa rt my program. These experts provided the content and could answer the questions, while I facilitated and designed the learning experiences for those who attended the workshops. I also discovered the importance of creating an environment or context that w as conducive to learning. Issues related to drinking water quality were sensitive topics to some program participants. Credibility, respect, and trust were important in helping g water. were being heard. My role was to help foster an environment for learning so that these families would be more willing to make a change. I went to the local commu nity and worked with respected citizens to develop drinking water awareness events at churches and schools. I trained young AmeriCorps volunteers to go door to door and talk one on
80 one with residents in their own home. I worked with local women and childre programs and provided information to nursing mothers on the dangers of nitrates in well water. I realized learning was dependent on sound information being provided and on the context of the learning experience and the previous experiences and p erceptions learners brought with them. After seven years, I moved back to F lorida and became a 4 H science educator. H literature. As a 4 H educa tor, I trained and worked with e xtension faculty, adult volunteers, and children through camping programs. I learned that in order to hold the telling people what they needed to know or needed to do. I found it more fun to let go and join in the discovery process than to try to control the whole process. But what I found challenging was how to develop and guide the experiential learning process so it had direction and a goal. In order to do this, I had to learn the kinds of questions that would best guide the experiential learning process. This was difficult at first, because I thought processes related to an experience. As a teacher, I usually just asked questions ific understanding of content. Since 4 H claims to use experiential learning to help youth learn life skills and subject matter, I felt a real need to better understand this phenomenon for my own professional development. Over the past 12 years, I have talked to numerous faculty and volunteers about experiential learning in 4 H and how the process takes place within a club. I looked for evidence of it in summer camp programs, state events, and in
81 training programs for volunteers. I have heard and seen personal evidence of the process occurring in 4 H clubs and events but have also discovered that there are inconsistencies in its use, misunderstandings about what it means, and challenges inte g rating experiential learning into youth activities. Yet, the 4 H p rogram fosters the use of the experiential learning model in all its programs and curriculum. After entering graduate school, I started to research this phenomenon in more depth as part of class projects. The more I read about experiential learning, the more interested I became in the learning process. Certain graduate courses became very was not throu gh sitting and listening to someone, but from being directly engaged in a learning experience and then having the opportunity to internalize or process the experience, then apply what I learned from it to another situation. I realized that because I was an educator, I often applied what I learned through teaching others. I have taken my own personal experiences and applied them to help others learn too. I also realized that one is more likely to remember something better if it connects not just to the cog nitive domain of a person, but al so to their affective domain. I found I learned best when something h ad personal meaning to me . T he process of experiential In order to deepen my understanding of experiential learning, I had to learn how it was perceived and used in other contexts and from other perspectives. I joined the National Association of Experiential Education and attended a few of their conferences. While attending thes e conferences, I participated in a number of workshops on experiential learning presented by other organizations, institutions, businesses, and
82 professions. I also had opportunities to talk with outdoor and adventure educators, environmental educators, med ical and business professionals, and college faculty. I even talked with researche rs about experiential learning and possible gaps in research. As a result of my experiences with this phenomenon and past research, I have developed a number of beliefs abou t experiential education and the process of experiential learning. First, many perspectives exist on what constitutes experiential students have learned through experiential learning. Most studies have described the impacts or outcomes learners have gained from an experiential learning activity or program. Yet, based on my own research, interviews with 4 H agents, and conversations with others in the field, few studies have r eally explored how experiential learning processes are applied in their program. Secondly, I know key components must be in motion in order for true experiential learning to occur ( i.e., concrete experience, sharing/reflecting, applying, and continuity). I en commonplace in 4 H. However, guided r eflection and application phase of experiential learning do not seem to be consistently or even well integrated into 4 H experiences and, thus, need to be explored. Othe r components or attributes of the experiential learning process may or may not be present bu t have not been well described or studied within 4 H. Thirdly, experiential learning also involves and depends on a context. I believe this context or learning envi ronment may greatly influence how experiential learning approaches are integrated into a learning experience. This context is based on the club
83 education and skills, their relationships with youth within the club, the types of club projects youth are involved in, and any challenges they have experienced in trying to use the components of the model. The experiential learning cycle does not occur in a vacuum and is not i solated from the se or other possible influences . Although the 4 H program strives to create a supportive learning environment for youth, this researcher believes that the use of experiential learning practices within 4 H clubs has been dependent on other c ontextual variables within the club, or in the background experiences of leaders and the youth themselves. In summary, I believe the experiential learning that occurs within a club is a much more complicated phenomenon than the simple do reflect apply cycl e described in the 4 H model and in 4 H literature. Leaders may or may not have an understanding of it, yet experiential learning must be occurring in various ways according to 4 H literature and research. The need to provide more clarity to what seems lik e an abstract phenomenon was important for this researcher and will be applicable to the entire 4 H Youth Development Program. Methodology Adapting a Phenomenological Approach Lived experiences are the primary focus of phenomenological research (Hatch, 200 2). Phenomena that occur in natural settings are often complicated and complex, making it difficult to know or understand the role of different variables related to a phenomenon. Thus, phenomenological studies have offered a way to examine these more compl ex variables (Giorgi, 2009). The researcher believed that the club setting presented many complex variables and dimensions related to learning in 4 H. Thus, based on the research questions, a qualitative phenomenological approach was
84 considered appropriate to use in order to explore the phenomenon of experiential learning in the club . Using a phenomenological approach enabled club leaders to share their perceived experiences and beliefs associated with learning processes taking place in the 4 H club. By inv estigating the lived experiences of club leaders and examining their beliefs and perceptions about these experiences, a deeper understanding of how experiential learning occurs in the club would emerge. Specifically, this study explored how 4 H leaders lea rn about experiential learning; how they describe the components of the model, how they view their role in the learning process, and how they perceive that youth learn through experiential learning processes. However, a true phenomenological research study typically includes multiple qualitative methods for data collection, such as conducting focus groups and interviews, examining journals or document evidence, and conducting group or individual observations in order to uncover a broader and more inclusive picture of the phenomenon (Denzin & Lincoln, 2005). This broader approach was deemed unrealistic given the amount of time a study of this scope would have required. This researcher saw a more critical need to conduct in depth interviews with 4 H club leade rs since they were in charge of facilitating the process with club youth. As a result, the researcher adapted specific components of a phenomenological approach to fit the current study. Phenomenological Methods Used The methodology used in this study alig ned with the foundations o f transcendental phenomenology. This underlying foundation seeks the universal truths related to experience, follows the process of epoche, and involves imaginative variation (Marshall & Rossman 2006; Moustakas, 1994). Creswell (2 013), Moustakas (1994), and Sokolowski (2000) described both the philosophical underpinnings and the process
85 involved in conducting this type of research. The first step was for the researcher to assume a phenomenological attitude. Giorgi (2009) described this as breaking away should look at all objects of experience from different perspectives, whether real or not real, true or not true. This step was especially important, as it helped the researcher Transcendental phenomenology begins with epoche, or the setting aside of the f interest, for the purpose of suspending judgment (Creswell, 2013; Moustakas, 1994; Wertz, Charmaz, McMullen, Josselson, Anderson, & McSpadden, 2011). Before beginning the study, the researcher acknowledged all prior experiences and points of view related to her past interactions with the phenomenon of experiential learning. These views and interactions were captured in written form as the subjectivity statement. This document was used to express how the researcher viewed experiential learning in the 4 H c lub setting and to help set aside her initial views and beliefs during the study. This bracketing of the on under helped ensure that the data and findings presented featured the perceptions and experiences of study participants, rather than those of the researcher. The goa l was to 2002; Marshall & Rossman, 2006).
86 Phenomenological reduction is the second step in phenomenological methods and involves describing in textural language not only what one sees and experiences, 90). Horizonalization begins when the researcher reviews the transcripts, giving equal weight to each and every significant statement given b y participants (Moustakas, 1994). (Moustakas, 1994, p. 95). This researcher reviewed the transcribed interviews multiple times to identify significant statements made by each leader. (Creswell, 2013). This was done for each leader, based on the research questions and also for any unique findings that emerged from the data. Clusters of meanings were then organized around common themes. This allowed the researcher to write a The last step in a transcendental phenomenology approach is imaginative variation. Imaginativ how the participants in a study experienced the phenomenon (Moustakas, 1994). Structural descriptions of the phenomenon are described by each participant and then acros s all participants (Marshall & Rossman, 2006; Moustakas, 1994). Moustakas through the utilization of i magination, varying the frames of reference, employing polarities and reversals, and approaching the phenomenon from divergent perspectives, different po The final step integrates the composite
87 descriptions and other key find ings to help form the essence of the phenomenon, what composite descriptions to help describe t he essential structures of experiential learning in the 4 H club (Moustakas, 1994). Description of Clubs Used for Study The 4 H club has served as the most primary and effective means of providing youth development programming in 4 H (Norman & Jordan, 1999 ). The long term nature of 4 H clubs provides community based positive structured learning environments for youth. In Florida, 4 H clubs generally have fallen into one of the following categories: community clubs, special interest or project clubs, in scho ol clubs, after school clubs, or military clubs. Although all 4 H club members have been able to work on club related projects of their choosing, the type of club youth join may determine the kinds of projects and activities in which youth and leaders beco me involved, as well as where they meet. For example, clubs form in communities, in schools, and on military bases (Norman & Jordan, 1999). Critical to this study was the selection of 4 H leaders and clubs with the greatest potential to yield rich descript ive information on experiential learning in 4 H. In order to determine this, the researcher solicited feedback from 4 H agents around the state prior to the onset of this study. Feedback from 4 H faculty suggested that: 1) community clubs often offered mor e diverse learning experiences than other clubs, such as project clubs, because youth could explore and be involved in different projects over time; 2) community clubs were considered more long term and stable than project clubs because of the diversity of projects and programs offered; 3) project clubs often evolved
88 into community clubs because the interests of youth expand over time; and 4) the community club format has been viewed as more common in most counties (Kraeft, Jordan, Mayer, Sachs , & Tesdall, personal communication, 2011). Literature also suggested that community clubs provided youth with opportunities to learn how to work in social groups, as well as develop decision making skills through a variety of activities (Van Horn, Flanagan, & Thomson, 1998). Community club members also have opportunities to engage in multiple experiences beyond the club setting, though other types of clubs have done the same. These have included civic engagement opport unities, state events, and field trips. Althou gh these events may fall outside the club setting, they have still been considered part of the club experience (Florida 4 H Program Handbook, 1999; Jordan, personal communication, 2006). Club information was obtained from an onlin e database consisting of t he names of chartered clubs in 4 H, the youth enrolled in the club, and the names of the club leader(s). This online database creates the ES 237 federal reporting system that provides statistics on the number of 4 H youth participating in organized clubs, camps, school enrichment, special interest clubs, and individual study across the state. All 4 H clubs and club youth in Florida are required to be registered in this database. County 4 H agents submit club information for every club in their county. The researcher utilized ES 237 reports to determine the most common types of clubs in the Florida 4 H program. Based on the ES 237 2014 report, approximately 1,180 4 H clubs were registered in Florida with a total enrollment of 19,500 youth . Of this number, ar ound 1,070 were registered as community clubs or a total of 16,65 0 youth . Thus, according to the database, the majority of clubs in Florida were considered
89 community clubs . In a review of these reports, the researcher also noted that project clubs, which t ypically focus on one project topic, and military clubs, were often r egistered in 4 H Online as a community club by the county 4 H agent, thus blurring how the clubs were distinguished. The researcher also noted that community clubs could become project cl ubs, depending on the interests of the youth for that year . Based on the information provided by 4 H faculty and the ES 237 reports, the researcher decided to focus the study on the 4 H community club and the community club leader. However, the development of a set of selection criteria was necessary to ensure the selec tion of appropriate community clubs and club leaders for the study. Sampling Methods Patton (2002) identified a number of purposive sampling strategies. These sampling strategies have often b rich cases for an in depth st rich descriptive, phenomenological case studies, a purposive sampling method was used for this study. The number of participants needed in a phenomenological study has been described as dependent on the types of questio ns being asked, the data being gathered, the type of analysis, and the resources available to support the study (Merriam, 2009). Merriam suggested that the number selected should be adequate to fully answer the research questions. Seidman (2006) stated tha for each researcher and each study. Lincoln and Guba (1985) recommended that sampling continues until a point of saturation or redundancy is reached through data collection methods and analysis. Creswell (2013) stated that for a ph enomenological
90 study, each participant selected had to have experience with the phenomenon being studied. Dukes (1984) recommended selecting three to ten participants for a phenomenological study. Based on this information and a recommendation by the resea H community club leaders/clubs was selected for this study. Seidman (2006) and Creswell (2013) described maximum variation sampling as an effective approach for selecting interview participants beca use it provides for a wider range of possible experiences related to the phenomenon under study and may be more reflective of the larger population. For this study, a maximum variation sampling strategy was attempted from the following perspectives. Club l eaders were selected based on being in different geographic locations of the state. Leaders and their clubs also represented different settings such as rural versus urban. Leaders and their clubs focused on a wide variety of projects, including community s ervice learning projects, and experienced different levels of civic engagement and leadership. The researcher selected leaders with different years of experience. This provided a greater range of leader and club contexts (learning environments) in which to explore the phenomenon of experiential learning. Although gender was a consideration, and one male leader was selected to be interviewed, scheduling conflicts prevented any interviews from taking place with this leader during the data collection phase of the study. The researcher had access to 4 H agents across the state, many of whom indicated a willingness to assist in the study by locating and recommending appropriate leaders and clubs for the study ( Appendix C ). Selection criteria were developed to better enable county agents and the researcher to select those leaders and clubs with the
91 most potential to yield rich information related to experiential learning during an interview. Having sampling criteria also assisted the researcher in addressing maximum variation sampling approaches. Selection criteria included: The county agent recommended the leader as someone who could clearly 1. articulate his or h er experiences in an interview. The 4 H club leader was willing to participate in the study. 2. ing to the 4 H online 3. database. The club fit the basic definition/criteria of a community club. These clubs met as a 4. group on a regular schedule under the direction of an adult volunteer, held club meetings that generally consisted of a business meeting followed by a planned program arranged by the leader and/or the youth, and clubs elected officers and served on committees (Tes dall & Knowles , 2014). The club leader was directly involved in the learning experiences of the club. 5. Some club leaders have been more involved in the management needs of the club and less involved in the actual learning experiences. Recruiting leaders tha t had strong involvement in club activities had more potential to uncover experiential learning processes at work than those that had less in volvement. Club youth were involved in a diversity of learning opportunities throughout the 6. club year. This include d but was not limited to their involvement in multiple 4 H projects, club leadership, civic engagement, and citizenship opportunities. The researcher felt that those 4 H clubs with a rich diversity of experiences were more likely to yield richer informatio n on experiential learning. The club leader had at least th ree years of experience as a club leader in 4 H. 7. Club leaders with a minimum of three years of experience have had more time and opportunities for volunteer training in club management, programming , and experiential learning than those in their first or second year. They have also had more time to become familiar with club materials and activities, and have developed a set of personal experiences in 4 H useful for this study. The club had been in ex istence for at least three years. This allowed the leader 8. more time to get to know the club members and to build a history of learning experiences with club youth. Youth within the club would have had more opportunities to build social relationships, compl ete projects, and participate in civic engagement and leadership activities. These types of experiences were important for the purpose of this study. had a membership of at least eight youth and at least two 9. different 4 H age levels. A 4 H club consists of at five or more youth (4 H Club
92 Program Planning Guide, 1999). However, for the purposes of this study, the researcher felt it was important to have diversity in ages and a higher membership number in order to uncover a broader range of cl ub experiences perceptions related to experiential learning. Those club leaders identified by county 4 H agents were contacted by the researcher over the phone or through e mail to discuss their possible involvement in the study. These community club leade rs were then encouraged to complete a one page form asking for contextual information about their club (Appendix E ). Contextual data included age ranges of youth, the number of years the leader has been a leader, how long the club has been in existence, me eting arrangements and timing, among others. This information was then used to help the researcher select the best part icipants for the study. Once selected, the researcher obtained permission to record all interviews with the club leaders . Each participan t was provided with an interview consent form in which to sign prior to scheduling any interviews (Appendix D) . A semi structured interview (Appendix G). The interview guide, club and leader contextual d ata form, informed consent, and all participant communications were submitted to the Institutional Review Board (IRB), gaining approval. These approved materials are found in Appendices A F. Data Collection This study utilized data from interviews with 4 H club leaders. In phenomenological studies, data have often been collected through in depth interviews with individuals that have experienced the phenomenon (Creswell, 2013). Seidman (2006) explained that the purpose of interviewing is not to just get an swers to questions,
93 people make meaning of their experiences. interviewing. Seidman described a phenomen ologically informed interview sequence in which an interviewer conducts three separate interviews of approximately 90 minutes each over a two to three week period. This approach involved the use of open ended questions in each of the three interview series ( Appendix G ). also helped establish and maintain rapport with the 4 H leaders and participants. Seidman emphasized that a major goal of the interview process is to help participants reconstruct their experiences with the topic of the study. Seidman (2006) stated that approach gave participants in the current st udy a greater ability to place their experiences in context of the club and with the phenomenon of experiential learning (Seidman, 2006). The first interview was intended to uncover a focused life history, contextualize the phenomenon, and examine the deta this study, the first interview focused on the background and context of the club leader, ho w they came to be 4 H leaders, the types of projects and activities in which their club was involved, how they view ed their role in the club, any past training experiences they had, and their general views on learning in 4 H. Seidman (2006) explained that by experience within the context
94 share the details of these early and broader experiences in order to build a foundation of reconstructed experiences for further questioning later . present lived experiences. In this study, the second interview allowed leaders to describe what they knew about the experiential learning model and its components. youth were involved in different concrete experiences. Additional questions asked leaders to identify and describe possible opportunities for reflection and where or when application of learning took place. Questions also probed leaders to describe the ro le they played in these different experiences. Seidman (2006) described the third interview as used to encourage reflection on the meaning of the experiences. In this study, the third interview encouraged club leaders to describe how they perceived/viewed experiential learning as occurring through a variety of club activities , such as project work, community service, civic engagement, and club meetings. Questions also asked leaders to describe the learning benefits of using hands on/experiential activities with youth. Additional questions asked leaders to identify any challenges or constraints in developing hands on activities or integrating reflection and application into club activities and learning venues. The researcher then asked leaders to describe wha t kind of training might help them integrate more experiential learning strategies in their club. at how the factors in their lives interacted to bring them to their present sit Using a three interview approach allowed leaders to reflect on their own club
95 experiences. This approach provided valuable insight for the researcher and helped the leaders reconstruct their past experiences throughout the three interviews . The researcher strived to keep an honest and open rapport with participants in order to bring Seidman (2006) emphasized the importance of following this interview structure, yet alterations w ere allowed in the spacing and duration of the interviews as long as the form or structure remained intact. Although Seidman (2006) recommended that the three interviews be spaced three to seven days apart, the timing of and place for interviews were based on the schedules of leaders, club meeting dates, and geographical distance from the researcher. As a result, a set of three interviews was done over a few days or over a course of two weeks, depending on the schedule of the leader. The semi structured int erview guide consisted of open ended questions asked of all the participants (Hatch, 2002). This provided consistency in what was being asked and provided participants with an opportunity to share their perspectives, lived experiences, and how they perceiv ed and described experiential learning. Specific probing questions were given to club leaders that were relevant and appropriate in order to achieve a greater depth of discussion related to the phenomenon (Patton, 2002). Moustakas (1994) stated that phenom enological studies should include two typically influenced or affected your experiences of the questions were integrated into the interview guide used in this study. The interview
96 guide was reviewed by a panel of experts comprised of 4 H Extension specialists, the litat ive methods (Appendix A). Seidman (2006) emphasized the importance of establishing a structure prior to beginning any interview process. Prior to the start of each interview, the researcher provided the participant with a briefing of the purpose of the stu and the role of the leader/participant. This also provided an opportunity for participants to ask any questions of the researcher and have those questions addressed. The researcher employed active listening skills and used follow up questions to help participants openly describe the details of their experiences with experiential learning (Hatch, 2002). All interviews were held in person request. Interviews were held in separate rooms, fr ee of distractions, and suitable for the proper recording of the interview (Creswell, 2013). A digital audio recording device was used to record each interview for transcription purposes. For greater depth of inquiry, field notes were recorded by the resea rcher. Additional notes by the researcher were taken to describe those settings and situations that a recording could not capture. These field notes included observations of leaders during the interview and the setting in which the interviews took place, a s well as any researcher insights and/or thoughts before, during, and after the interviews. These additional notes helped the researcher develop additional probing questions (Poland, 2003), focus the interview on the s etting and context (Marshall & Rossman , 2006), and analyze the data (Patton, 2002). This also helped the researcher to keep her own personal bias from influencing the interview process and data analysis (Poland, 2003).
97 Although direct observations of youth and leaders during club programs, com munity events, field trips, or state events might have yielded additional data on experiential learning practices, the length of time required and logistics to do so were unrealistic for this study. The researcher instead focused her exploration with quest ions to help 4 H club leaders reconstruct their perceptions, beliefs, and experiences within the club related to experiential learning. Measures of Validation findings (Guion, Diehl, & McDonald, 2011). Qualitative researchers have believed that qualitative studies should be evaluated based on criteria appropriate to the m ethods used (Smith, Flowers, & Larkin, 2012). Thus, qualitative researchers have defended their studies based on measures of validation that stem from the credibility, dependability, trustworthiness, transferability, and confirmability achieved through the research methods used (Angen, 200 0; Guba, 1981; Mishler, 1990). Creswell (2013) presented a number of proced ures often used in qualitative research that contribute to trustworthiness. The following procedures described by Creswell and others were integrated into this study to help ensure trustworthiness of the findings. Triangulation . Triangulation has often bee (Denzin, 1978, p. 308). Triangulation of qualitative data has been described as occurring through data triangulation, investigator triang ulation, theory triangulation, methodology triangulation, and environmental triangulation (Guion, Diehl, & McDonald, 2011). That is, using multiple sources of data collection methods, sources of data,
98 multiple investigators, or multiple theories helps esta (Denzin, 1978, 1989; Merriam, 2009). dates and places, and from different people. Merriam (2009) described that triangulation using multi ple sources of data involves comparing and cross checking data collected at different times and places or interview data from people with different perspectives. The use of multiple sources of data can provide more evidence to support emerging themes and h elped to identify any inconsistencies in the data (Creswell, 2013). Environmental triangulation involves the use of different locations, settings, and other important factors relating to the environment in which the study took place (Guion, Diehl, & McDona ld, 2011). Although this study obtained data only from interviews with five 4 H club leaders, the context or learning environment of each club and the experiences of each leader interviewed were unique. In addition, the locations and times for interviews w ere increased the confidence in the findings. Additional field notes were recorded before and after the interviews. These multiple sources of data helped the researcher to de termine if the data converged, that is, led to the same finding (Yin, 2011) or in the case of a phenomenolo Understandably, the validity of these findings might have been further strengthened if the researcher examined docum ents, such as project books and reports, or conducted direct observations of club youth in action. This was not logistically or realistically possible given the time frame for the study. Future studies including the use
99 of these strategies may lead to an e ven broader and more holistic understanding of learning processes in the 4 H club. Peer review and debriefing . Peer review and debriefing provided external reflection and input on the study. To ensure the interview questions had the best chance of uncoveri ng the rich descriptions needed for the scope of the study, the draft interviews (Appendix B ). This included a county 4 H agent who was also a past club leader and the 4 H cur riculum and evaluation specialist. Feedback was provided and utilized in the revision of the interview guide. This process ensured a more valid and reliable set of interview questions for gathering the depth of descriptive information needed for the study. Member checking . accuracy in collected data from interviews. Researchers conduct member checking by sharing interview transcripts, analysis, or drafts of the final report with research participants . This helps to ensure that researchers represent the perceptions, ideas, and experiences of participants accurately. In this study, the researcher shared the transcripts and analysis with the 4 H leaders participating in the study. The researcher informed the interview was transcribed into text, the researcher asked each community club leader to review a copy of the transcribed text for accuracy and to note any areas that need ed correcting ( Appendix F). Leaders provided approval of their transcribed interview via e mail.
100 Rich, thick description . Obtaining a rich, thick description of the phenomenon allows the reader to enter and understand the research context. Transcribed inte rviews from 4 H leaders and youth, along with the detailed observations, provided a rich textural and structural description of the experiences within the club. Transferability addresses how well the findings from a study can be transferred to other simila r groups findings to other similar groups in 4 H or in o ther volunteer driven programs. . Researchers must reflect on their own subj ectivity and how it will be used or monitored in the research. This researcher shared her subjectivity statement and made an honest effort to avoid biases in the analysis of the data. A subjectivity statement communicates any biases of the researcher relat ed to the phenomenon of interest. Ary et al., (2006) stated that the researcher can be a threat to the transferability of the findings of a study. In an attempt to limit or eliminate this threat, the researcher produced a subjectivity statement to communic ate any biases helped her to realize these possible biases, focus on the lived experiences of participants, and evaluate what they knew about experiential learning. By rel ying on these multiple methods of data collection and measures for validation, the findings and conclusions in this study were viewed as being more valid and reliable than interviews alone. Data Analysis Since multiple interviews w ere involved, the researc her spent extensive time in transcribing, reading, and reviewing the transcriptions after each interview series was complete. To prevent over simplification or loss of meaning within the data through
101 summarization, all transcription of text from oral to wr itten form was generated as close to verbatim as possible (Patton, 2002). Conventional notation was used to indicate where breaks in conversation occurred, such as pauses in speech, emotional responses, stuttering, or wording that was not understood. All c ompleted transcriptions were cross checked with interview recordings, notes from club observations, and field notes. The analysis of qualitative data generally follows a five step cycle (Yin, 2011). These steps are : 1) compiling, 2) disassembling, 3) reass embling and arraying, 4) in helping the researcher become familiar with the data collected. To achieve this, the researcher first listened to the audi otapes multiple t imes, and at the same time checking or labeling the data according to selected words or phrases found within the data. As this researcher read through the transcripts, potentially important phrases were highlighted. Creswell (2013) stated that phenomenological data analysis goes through a methodology of reduction, an analysis of specific statements and themes, followed by a search for all possible meanings. The transcend ental emphasis in this study required the researcher to set aside her prejudgments as much as possible, thus bracketing the transcendental because the researcher must see the phe nomenon and the data totality. The researcher used the modified Steven Colaizzi Keen method of
102 phenomenological data analysis (Creswell, 2013; Moustakas, 1994). These steps are described as follows: Step 1. The researcher reviewed her own subjectivity sta tement to refrain from pre judg ment before any analysis was done. Step 2. After each interview series was complete, the interviews were transcribed and reviewed. The researcher compiled and read through each transcribed interview multiple times to become familiar with what each leader said. Significant statements were underlined and open coded. This step created the initial horizonalization of the data as describe d by Moustakas (1994). Step 3. These significant statements (or horizons) were then pulled from the transcripts and placed in an Excel spreadsheet. This allowed the researcher to identify the range of descriptions and perspectives provided by the leaders. Moustakas (1994, Step 4. These significant statements were then grouped into larger units of meaning clusters then helped establish themes. Initially every significant statement was treated equally or as having equal value. This step allowed the researcher to delete those statements that were irrelevant to t he topic and other statements that were simply redundant or overlapping. Step 5. The researcher then used Excel capabilities to sort the data according to similar themes. Additional codes were developed as data sets were further examined. Data in tables co nsisted of significant excerpts of text, meaning summaries, descriptive
103 coding, and thematic domain. The interview data were then reexamined for any additional patterns of thoughts from text. Examining and reexamining the data throughout the study helped t he researcher to see new or emerging patterns of possible meanings throughout the analysis. The analysis process was fluid in that possible multiple meanings in the text were uncovered as the researcher became more familiar with the data. This step require d the researcher to engage in epoche because of the interpretive process involved (Moustakas, 2013). In order to use imaginative variation, the researcher had to consider all possibilities regarding situations or contexts, influencing the phenomenon. Step 6. Once major themes were uncovered and developed, the researcher phenomenon of experiential learning in the club. These descriptions have been provided in the first sect ion of Chapter 4. The findings are organized according to the major themes uncovered in relation to the research questions. Throughout the analysis the researcher reflected on the setting and context of the club , along with the leader in which experiential learning processes wer e experienced (Creswell, 2013). A collective composite description of leaders and findings from the study is perceived as a phenomenon in the 4 H club setting has been revealed in Chapter 5. Chapter Summary Chapter 3 presented an overview of the methodology used in the study. Qualitative approaches were used in order to gain a more detailed understanding of the phenomenon. A phenomenological stu dy describes the meaning that individuals make of their lived experiences of a phenomenon (Creswell, 2013). A phenomenological
104 approach was used in this study to explore and examine how 4 H leaders come to know and describe experiential learning, how they perceive experiential learning as being integrated in the 4 H club setting, and how their perceptions and described experiences reflect components of experiential learning. Creswell (2013) indicated that using a phenomenological approach for a study is app ropriate when it is important to understand how several individuals make meaning of their experiences with a common beliefs about experiential learning. The methodology used in this study aligned with the foundations of transcendental phenomenology. Transcendental phenomenology follows the process of Epoche, phenomenological reduction, and ima ginative variation (Marshall & Rossman 2006; Moustakas, 1994). 4 H community club le aders were selected as the participants for the study. This study was based on a purposive sample and used a set of criteria to select participants. which the researcher condu cted three separate interviews using open ended questions. This interview process helped 4 H leaders reconstruct their experiences within the club in order to find evidence of experiential learning processes. Measures of validation included triangulation, peer review and debriefing, member checking, and providing a researcher subjectivity statement. This study adapted Steven Colaizzi Keen method of phenomenological data analysis (Creswell, 2013; Moustakas, 1994). This analysis involved the bracketing of the developing a list of significant statements or horizonalization of the data, grouping the
105 data into meaning units, developing textural and structural descriptions, lead ing of experiential learning within the 4 H community club.
106 CHAPTER 4 FINDINGS Introduction This chapter features the textural and structural descriptions for each of t he five H community club. The five leaders in the study were Ella, Ruby, Marta, Anna, a nd Eve. Each leader met the selection criteria and had been recommended for the stu dy by the ir co unty 4 H agent. Each leader was fro m a different county and different regions of the state were represented . The interviews took place from December 2014 to March 2015. Table 4 1 outh. interview phenomenological approach with each leader. The three interviews were designed to help leaders reconstruct their experiences within the club. Each interview helped establish the context for the next inte rv iew. Open ended questions in each in terview allowed leaders to look back, reflect on, and share their club experiences with the researcher. This led some to a deeper understanding of experiential learning and their ow n role in the learning proc ess. The findings are presented here in two sections. In the first section, eac h leader and club are described in a brief overview, followed by deeper structural and textural descriptions uncovered through the interviews. Leaders described their beliefs an d experiences related to the phenomenon of experiential learning in their club. Themes were uncovered and organized according to the research questions. Within t hese themes significant findings and components of experiential learning were identified and de scribed for each leader. The second section of findings presents a cross comparison
107 of the leaders on significant patterns found in the data and summarizes the findings from leaders . Some findings were unique to a particular leader but still viewed as sign ificant in this research study, and also included. Club Leader 1 Ella Introducing Ella and Her Club Ella was the organizational leader of a 4 H community club but has also been a project leader of a club in the past. She has been involved in 4 H for 12 years a nd a club leader for ten years. Most of the youth in her club were homeschooled, but s ome did attend public schools. There were 12 youth in her club. They ranged in ages from 5 18 years (T able 4 1 ). club existed in a semi urban and rural sett ing. The club met once a month for two to four hours. They held meetings at a community center or at the county Extension office. Club youth were involved in a variety of projects , including marine science, sewing, camping, robotics, clowning, forest ecolo gy, citrus, and electricity. Her project leaders were typically other parents. Ella had a strong emphasis on public speaking and club members were often involved in demonstration s and illustrated ta lks at county and state levels. Becoming a Leader When Ell a first started in 4 H she was homeschooling her own children. She got involved in 4 hands on learning opportunities for her children. We were learning about 4 ands on part of learning in a community of kids and like minded parents was what we are are seeing there is a community of kids , and you know they are learning this , about natural resources , and they are learning
108 Ella also got involved in 4 H because of the many learning opportunities and resources it o ffered her family. Although she did not have a college degree, she had an Because I want to learn about archery, because I want to learn about marine ecology, I want to learn about forest ecology. She even saw herself as having H experiences. She also wanted to pass on her love o I had to learn so I could teach others. H had th e resources she did not have at home and gave her the opportunity to grow and expand, not just as a club leader, but as a person. It helps you rethink other ways of thinking and ways of teaching. So as an different methods of teaching , and you also learn p atience and you use that in other areas and in your life. So , I am stretching myself and I am lookin g for ways to make it hat is where my growth lays in. Ella saw the value of 4 s achievements in the club. She thought they were better leaders because of all the training they had through 4 H. This was another major factor for her being in 4 H. So when you see your kids H pr ogr Because of this, she wanted to continue in 4 H even after her children graduated. So you are in an organization that you are gleaning and learning so much from people who are in the know and the resources, and the books, and you are like you continue, even when they are done because you see the value in it. , but also the lives of other children and to make the community a better place. Ella was a very
109 passionate leader and wanted to encourage parents to foster a love of learning in their own children. She knew that being involved in 4 H gave her this opportunity. Previous Ed ucation and Training Ella felt her county 4 H age nt was the biggest source of learning for her. Having the agent always available and accessible was cri tical to the success of her club. arning through your agent...i f you have di rect communication and a good relationship with her, which you should , then I would always call her What do you think about this or that or am I doing this So you are learning from her, you are watching everything she does. Watching how they relate to the kids. And that is really important how they teach and how they relate to the kids. The agent is really the key person here to be honest. She emphasized that a leader had to feel confident she was always welcomed by the agent for a one on one meeting, if it became necessary. If issues or problems ar ose, Ella felt her county agent s would listen. Yes, can you come on a certain day and we can discuss ? arning through. Ella realiz ed there was a great learning curve in understanding how 4 H clubs worked and were managed. Ella felt she had made many mistakes along the way, but her agent always encouraged her to learn from these mistakes. Having this level of support was important to Ella and helped her overcome many obsta cles she faced as a 4 H club leader. were well connected to other people and organizations. She depended on her agents for help in findi ng speakers, resource materials, field trip sites, and community service contacts. She felt her agent was critical to the success of her club. Ella viewed her
110 agent as a role model for her, other leaders, and parents in the county. Whatever agents did, lea ders and parents looked to model the same behavior in their club. single parent there and every single leader is makin making mental notes of how you spoke, who you spoke with, how you presented yourself, because she (leader/parent) is going to imitate that. She is going to im she is always going to imitate that agent. El la enrolled in a number of training sessions on volunteerism through distance learning at her county extension office. Another county training session she attended focused on the different ages and stages of youth and the educational approaches used. Ella talked with her agent after these sessions if she had any questions or had other club matters to discuss. Ella did not remember taking a specific training on the experiential learning model. She felt what she had learned had been beneficial in helping her understa nd more about learning in 4 H. She often shared what she had learned with other leaders in her county. In sharing this information, she learned more about teaching others. . These meetings provide d leaders with important information on upcoming events and gave them time to have their questions answered. These meetings were generally well attende club leaders. Her Role as Club Leader Ella was the organizational leader for the club a nd performed a variety of roles. 4 H club. She warned parents that understanding 4 H took time. To foster these ideas and
111 provide parents with club information, she met wit h parents while youth were working with project leaders during club meetings. parent gets the idea of the why part, not only th e why, why we are doing this, and they catch on. In turn, they make it happen, they help us make it happen and that is critical. Ella also wanted parents to know that in order to achieve the greatest learning benefits for their ch ildren, 4 H needed to be a long t erm investment and commitment. I need to explain to them what we are doing, why we are doing it, and to let them understand 4 H organization to g w s if you do it every single year, you will se e so much growth in your child I have to s life and to think of it as long term because that is whe n the best results are. xperience giving a talk in 4 H. The first day my daughter did a little talk in front of her peers, all she was nd it was on snail s and she had and I reassured parents , I f this is all your kids can do, I am ok with it, because th ey are not going to grow with in a year. It will take ars. Ella stre ssed that parents sometimes beco me overwhelmed with 4 H and all the activities and events it involved. Ella saw herself as someone who was not just leading the youth bu tell a new parent that we are s all going to be in the book, beca Ella felt her role was to orient new parents to the 4 For Ella, these m eetings with parents wer e also important for recruiting their help in future events and activities and to get their input on club ideas or plans.
112 I was meeting with t he parents letting them know what was coming up, what the kids were doing, and this is what the kids decided to do . What do they all think? So there they could speak a nd they could make opinions... and how they coul d help out. And that is wh ere you recruit parental help. As a leader, she wanted parents to understand that 4 H was not about competing and getting trophies having a trophy is not the end all. It is what the child is learning She considered trophies to be motivating factors and wonderful to have , but you want your kids to learn and to get someth ing out of that experience. When club youth and their project leaders engaged in learning activities, Ella encouragement. Yet she refrained from interfering or interjecting her opi nions or ideas into the activities lead by project leaders. This was not the case when she first started as a leader. H er own daughter, a member of the club, helped her realize that the way to support a project leader was not to interfere or tell him or he r how to teach an activity. I did that in Mom , she is doing, you can go in there and smile and clap when they are done with tea ch ... each it this way! That is the wrong u as someone who is Over time Ella learned how to encourage an d support her project leaders. She wanted them to grow and expand as project leaders and develop their own leadersh ip roles and skills. She viewed herself as a mentor to them and pro vided them with opportunities to grow as well.
1 13 was on task to achieve their goals by the end of the year . Ella felt she played an important role in helping youth achieve their project goals and getting them to finish their project books. Again, she felt that project l eaders might not see all this. At the same time she wanted to make learning interesting, relevant, and fun. Like youth, she too had to be motivated and excited abo ut a subject area and then had to ex press this excitement to youth. She knew if she could present something in a fun and exciting way , then yo uth would keep coming back. Ella described the challenge as a leader was in making some activity both relevant and fun. She also to how to make the topic exciting so that learning about the subject would continue at home. Within actual club activities, Ella would often initiate things but allowed youth to take care of the rest. She wa nted youth to have a voice and make choices about club decisions. She wanted club activities to be in the hands of the project leaders and older youth. As the club leader, she connected club youth to new resour ces and project ideas to help youth She was familiar with the resources in the area and worked with her county agent to obtain additional resources. One such learning opportunity was described this way: My co leader and I have done ma rine ecology for so many years and now worki two and get it to a new level? You know that is fascinating. If we can combine this vast knowledge that we have on marine ecology, and think about robotics and technology, and how to combine the two, in order to have th e kids think outside of the box and have them think later on in life.
114 Involving Parents and Other Adul ts Ella often recruited parents to be project leaders. Project leaders were primarily concerned with helping youth complete their project books and other project requirements. She described a story about how one parent was recruited to teach youth about clowning. There was a mom who knew clowning I would And I thought, hold on, I think 4 H has a clowning So we can turn it into a project book and they can get all kinds of credit for it. So she said that was perfec So the mother gave them some lessons on clowning, and she and other peop le taught them about ballooning. Sometimes a project leader had special training or expertise in a topic , and was willing to teach who is willing to give it to kids in different not going to stand relevant . To best support project learning, Ella tried to recruit those who had some expertise and/or parents, others outside of the club were also r ecruited to help. So we do have outs ide people that we want to come in and teach us tap people who are in that project area. Yea, they specialize. Mothers she can come and maybe do basic things with the (4 H) expectations from a parent that she is going to be an expert. Sometimes those recruited to lead a project area did not have expertise in the topic, and required guidance. If this was the case, Ella often provided a brief outline for them. Ella described the important role these project leade rs had in the learning process. Ella stressed that having parents invo lved in the club was very critical to the manage the club without them. As a result, she required
115 the parents or some older family member to be at every club meeting. At the same time she gave them strict requirements about st aying in the background. This was because of the potential negative impact they could have on their own children if they spoke up too much. Parents for the most part are quiet at the business portion of our to make comments or interjec t. This is what we discovered and learned. When you have a club meeting and all the parents are present and talking and interjecting and giving opinions, what parents during the business portion are not allowed to speak. They will all have a chance to speak or give opinions later. But if we allow the parents to speak, the kids automatically stay quiet. This also was true in club activities, especially where youth were involved in doing leadership or leading activities, community service, and civic engagement. She did not want parents, other than project leaders, doing too much because parents might want to take over. Ella also had some parents who were just uninvolved with their children. These parents sent their children to club meeti ngs and just dropped them off. Ella explained that h er club had to make some exceptions for these families so that the children could still be involved in 4 H. E lla described challenges in recruiting club help. She pointed out that parents were not experts and were fearful of being asked to volunteer too lo ng term . In order to recruit their help, she offered two key elements: 1) m a ke their volunteer period short and 2 ) base their involvement on their interests and what they enjoyed doing, too. Thi s was especially true to get the fathers involved . Recruitment was easier if these elements were involved.
116 Beliefs on Learning in the 4 H Club Ella view ed 4 H as creating a supportive learning environment contextually driven by the 4 H culture. She identified a number of factors that she felt contributed to learning experiences in her club. Influence of c aring adult s . Ella was aware of how youth benefitted from having a caring adult mentor. These adults took time out of their schedule to teach the club youth . Ella knew that the one on one relationship youth often had with an adult in 4 H was critical. Whether it is having a great speech or learning about this animal, or organization and you are having that connection with that adult. I think that is the cr itical th Ella felt t he benefits of this relationship were connected to other facets of 4 H. They are interacting with their communit y and making it a better place. T hey are leading, they are learning, they a re serving, and they are benefitting from a caring adult. Influence of social context . Ella felt the group community or social context was important in helping club youth learn and grow. Over time, the children not only learned things on their own but fro m each other. Ella described a situation where a young 4 H member was to give a talk at the club meeting on a marine animal. He watched others give their talks and when his turn came, he walked to the front of the group. However, he had difficulty speaking in front of his peers, so he just said a couple sentences, and others did. you know what. He is sitting there and he is learning from the research
117 that the other little six year old did at home. So he learned from that child and that child learned from the other child. So they are learning from each other. So that is why the g roup community is so critical, b ecause you are , and the work that they have done. As youth became more accustomed to seeing others do something they were afraid to do, like standing up and speaking in front of others, they were not only lear ning from each other but gaining mo re confidence to do the same, because speaking in front of others to do in 4 H. And he is also seeing another little five or six year o doing his talk. So after a while it becomes natural to that c hild because we are doing it at every single meeting and seeing someone else give a talk. So that is one critical because they are doing their reading rese arch, they are bringing i t in, and learning from each other. This often happened with young new members in the club. They often came into the But as they watched other youth get up and speak , they gained more con fidence to do the same. Over time , this fear subsided and youth grew in their speaking skills . These situations helped move youth out of their comfort zones. Youth mentoring youth . Mentoring opportunities were e ncouraged and fostered in within the club. Pr ojects often involved having older, more experienced youth, mentoring and teaching others about a project. Ella indicated that h aving older youth mentor and work with young er youth in the club helped youth develop leadership , co mmunication, and social skil ls. S et goals and achieve them . Ella described how a child learned confidence and built self esteem by setting and achieving short term goals. had graduated out of 4 H, explained this to her.
118 4 H is about self esteem, ch ildren are about self esteem, you want self ut s elf esteem is not just about telling a child he este em is all about setting a short and having a kid see that he arrived at that short What you want is a lot of short term goals and for him to be succe Thus, to a child, self esteem was a result of successfully achieving a set of short term learning goals. Ella felt an accomplishment had to be made in order for this boost of self esteem to happen. G roup youth by ages. Ella broke youth up into smaller more homogenous age groups to better manage them and foster small group discussion. Breaking into groups was especiall y important when the club went on field trips. She often called beforehand and made arrangements to have different programs for each group at a field site. She felt this approach helped them learn better because of the age differences. She felt that putti ng a five year o ld next to a 15 year old would eventually lea d to a time when the older member would stop coming to the club . I his mind we are doing all this litt le Ella descri bed that because C loverbuds (5 7 year olds) had a shorter attention span, club leaders often had to make special arrangements for them. Keeping their attention span during business meetings was challenging because a Cloverbud wou ld only sit and listen for so long. Having a separate project leader for Cloverbuds was important in order to address their needs. After the business meetin g was over, she provided young C loverbuds with somethi ng on their own learning level. I think it is important to gear whatever you are doing to the age levels and just be careful of mixing t he two groups all of the time. Because the little kids are okay with i t, but the older kids are not. They are feeling that you
119 are not addressing their intellectual c apabilities because you are watering it down for the y ounger kids. So, that was huge. To help address this, Ella mad e sure the Cloverbuds only talked in front of their own peers and not with the rest of the older youth. This way these younger members were less intimidated or terrified about talking because they only had to do i t in front of their young peers Make activities fun and hands on . o matter what if you want them to learn anything, there has got to be a n element of ombine the two. Ella felt that making something fun was in the way the topic was presented. Some topics were naturally fun, others were less so but could be made more fun. For example, one year the youth chose astronomy, which Ella thought might be boring for some of the youth. ng. But how do you present it? s critical. It can be exciting. You can do a lot of hands on stuff with that, which we did, and at the end of the year the kid s H ey t his is exciting and this is fun, but it was how it was presented to them! Ella felt that if a leader made a project fun then the kids would still be excited about the subject at the end of the year becau se of how it was presented it to them . She felt 4 H gave leaders the resources and the opportunities to make it fun . Along with making activities fun, Ella wanted to make everything as hands on as she could. She felt this made the activity more fun. Some topics were harder to make hands on . For example, how can a leader make learning about
120 government hands on and fun? Ella described how the club developed a little contest wit h questions using buzzers. The buzzers got youth more engaged in trying to answer the questions. Every time they had an answer, they would hit the buzzer, m aking the activity more interactive for the youth . Keep parents interested . Ella was aware that if p arents were not interested in what 4 H was doing, their children might lose interest as well. Ella knew that both parents and their children had to see the value of staying in 4 H. Keeping both happy and excited about 4 H was critical for a successful club , but keeping parents interested and coming back was a challenge. How do you keep parents interested in coming to meetings week after week and not having them burn out? The parents have to see an educational value in it. And they have got to see that their kids want to c ere today, I as educati onal as they the pull of the kid , will pull the weight. Vary meeting activities and locations . El la varied the meeting locations and activities in order to generate more excitement about a project area. She felt that g ettin g youth and families out of the club setting and in the outdoors , or to other places doing things as a group , added excitement to the project. She saw th is as being important for experiential learning to happen. Field trips were well attended , and parents were requi red to go with their children. Ella also broke up the monotony of meetings by bringing in guest speakers that supported project learning. These variations were viewed as helpful in keeping things exciting for the club. And the reason why that is important is you want t o break up the whole, Oh we are going to get t and that can get weary some times and kids can get tired. An d they can tell their go to 4 That is why variety is important . them something to look forward to.
121 Involve youth in club pl anning . Topics youth were interested in varied from year to year. A topic might have been popular one year but not the next. Ella used end of the year surveys to get feedback from youth and families on what they wanted to do in the following year . This inf ormation was important for the success of the club and to make sure youth did not get bored or tired of doing the same subject every year. club that is doing horses for ten years and the kids are getting tired. And they do get tir ed and you have to be careful with you are going to do one project for years in a row, it has to be a fun project. Ella stressed the importance of involving youth directly in all asp ects of club activities. However, she worked more closely with her officers and relied on their opinions regarding club activities. She got together with her offic ers first to get their feedback. This was easier than trying to get opin ions of every youth i n the club. Ell a described younger members as naturally looking up to a club officer and they got more excited about something if the officers were also excited about a project or activity . Ella had to get every meeting organized beforehand. To do this she got together with her clu b officers prior to each meeting to talk about what they wanted to do and to develop the agenda with them. She considered their input crucial in guiding the cl ub . Reward and recognize youth . Rewards and recognition have been an im portant part of the 4 H youth development program. Even though Ella stressed the importance of parents not focusing on the trophy as the goal, she described that getting the award helped to build confidence in that child. Describing Experiential Learning L earn by doing. Ella described learn by doing as get some hands She felt these experience s
122 were critical ecause there is only so long you can speak with a child sitting i She felt 4 H provided lots of opportunities for this to happen. She gave an example of how she felt this pr ocess worked at the club level. in. She was one of the project leaders and for several meetings she would writ e to the kids ahead of time and say what ingredients we were going to do and from the nutrition book she together with her t finished cookin g, she would go over something related to one of the ingredients. She might talk about it briefly. The young girls involv ed in this project later did a talk on this at the club level . To Ella, arned . To Ella, learn by doing was not only the act being engaged in a cooking/baking activity but also involved the related learning experiences that occurred afterwards. Experiential learning. Ella described the process of experiential learning as ing through an experience, as a hands on experience, as opposed to book That is, youth were actually doing the activity. To illustrate this, she described the following hands on experienc e and how youth shared what the y learned. 4 H is perfect f or that model because the first thing you do is learn by er it is you are doing it hands on. The next step is having the ability to conve rse and to be activity, then you shared it with someone, now when you do your little illustrated talk, or you share it at the club l evel verbally. Concrete experience . Ella was asked to de scribe a concrete experience . She resource agent. The field trip was to help youth prepare for the state forest ecology contest. The youth went into the woods where they got to touch leaves, hear the birds, and listen to other sounds in the woods. Ella emphasized that having concrete
123 experiences forced children to think for themselves. Ella felt these kinds of experiences happened a lot in 4 H. Sharing and reflection . Ella vie wed that giving an illustrated talk or demonstrations was an opportunity for a child to share what he or she had learned with their peers or others. This raised a question for the researcher as to how Ella, and These phases were not necessarily guided by questions posed by the leader but more based on the actions taken by the learner and the expectations for completing a project. Describing Club S tructure The club year sta rted in September , but Ella started planning the club y ear during the summer. She met with her co leader and discussed learning and teaching strategies, how to get parents involved, ideas for possible field trips, and possible outside speakers for the club . She used the 4 H project books for ideas. They also brainstormed ideas on how to the projects could involve more hands on activities. By the time they held their first club meeting in September, they already had club goals in mind. Ella and her co leader also met with parents to find out how they could help . Meeting structure. club usually met once a month. Each club meeting lasted approximately two hours. Meetings were usually held at the county Extension office or at a community center. Club offi cers conducted the business portion of the meeting. Business meetings followed a fairly standard template in which the club president called the meeting to order, everyone rose, pl edges were recited, old and new business was conducted , followed by secretar y, treasurer, and committee reports. In the busi ness meetings the club presented a county council report , followed by a discussion of club finances, fundraising ideas, projects, county fair, community service ideas, and
124 plans for other upcoming events. Mee tings provided opportunities for club members to make choices about what they wanted to do in these areas . The business portion lasted around 30 minutes. After the business meeting youth then split into groups for 45 minutes to work in their different proj ect areas. Each project was led by a project leader. During this time youth were usually involved in hands on activities related to their projects. Cloverbuds always went with their own projec t leader who led them in age appropriate activities. Project str ucture. Youth usually selected their projects at th e beginning of the club year. Projects were done multiple ways. Club members either worked together on the same pro ject over the year or did their own project. Group club projects included marine ecology, camping, and robotics. Her club also did mult iple projects at the same time which involved multiple project leaders during club meetings. Members also had the option of working with another club on a project, if a child was interested in a project that Ell another club had taken over this project. The chi ld could also enroll in the project Expectations . Ella had a set of expectation s for youth in her club. F or eac h project they were enrolled in, club members were expected to hand in a completed project book at the end of the year. They were expected to complete at least six activities as part of the project. Youth were also expected to do the following as part of their project: A leadership experience All club youth, not just club officers, were expected to 1. engage in some form of leadership activity/experience.
125 A speech, such as an illustrated talk or a demonstration in their projec t area. 2. Youth created trifold displays to support and visualize what their talk covered. These talks were often done during club meetings, if the member was ready. A community service project. 3. An exhibit at a county level event (i.e., county fair).The exhi bit could be their 4. trifold display. These were folding displays youth developed to highlight the major points of their talk or demonstration. Youth had to include pictures and words about their project area. Project books and r eports . All these components, along with the project book, were then recorded /report at the end of the year. This project report also contained reflective questions about what they did and learned over the year . A section of the report aske d youth to write their personal project story. To help youth complete the p roject record books, Ella provided a calendar online with all the dates o f scheduled activities, such as club field trip s, fair activities, community service activities , county even t s , or other group learning experience s . Club meetings were held with the projects in mind. Ella emphasized that the 4 H project bo oks were critical and guided her club programs for the year. She felt the project books provided the framework and criteria f or the project and determined the types of activities they did as a club. The project books helped the club stay focused. Ella described the importance of the project bo oks in providing or guiding the process of experiential learning in club programs. T hey have the activities right in it. So the books are the on e that provide ou do not come up with this stuff on your own. You are not thinking this way. So the book helps you learn and think that way. Club members were expected to turn in a project report at the end of the year. A project report pro vided an end of the year overview on what the youth had done and
126 learned as a resu lt of a project. According to Ella, the project report consisted of the answer s to the report questions, the completed project story, and any pictures or other visual materials. Project reports and the project storie s within were viewed as important reflective components of a project and discussed later in this study. Ella felt the project reports that the youth turned in at the end of the year were very important. All the activities they did during the year were reco rded in the report. This included field trips, meetings, county events, leadership, and community service experiences were all part of their project reports. Activities were done at various times during the year. Parents were encouraged to help their child ren complete the activity pages in their project books right after they were done. But parents often did not do this. These pages were often not completed until the very last month of the club year. If so, Ella had each yo uth bring in their project book to meetings at the end of the year, and they went over it and filled in the pages as a group. Project stories . A project story was part of the project report . Ella went over all the project stories before they were turned in to the county. She checked them f or grammar and spelling . Project reports were graded or judged based on a rubric. Children whose reports received high scores at the county level usually received small awards , such as medallions. Getting parents to understand all these components and how they were to be done as part of the project book and report was a big challenge for Ella. New parents often had a hard time seeing the benefits until the books and reports came together at the end of the year.
127 The get it the You are not going to get it at fir st, b ut just follow the sequence at the end when they see he project and This is what we were doing doing all of t his because of a t is hard for t hem to understand and grasp it . Describing Club Experiences Ella was ask ed various questions on how she vie wed youth as learning through different club experiences. Ella shared a great varie ty of experiences, not just related to meetings and projects, but also to community service, civic engagement and leadership, and competitive events. Through her stories and descriptions, the researcher looked for components and processes involved in exper ientia l learning . Meeting experiences Giving talks or demonstrations . youth learn how to speak in front of others. Even Cloverbuds w ere described as giving talks within their own group . These talks often happened as a part of their club meetings. Ella described a hands on activity she used to help youth become more comfortable speaking in front of others. She asked youth to create their own clay figures of somet hing they liked to talk about. W e brought clay in an d we had them with their hands make something that they wer his hands. Meanwhile he is thinking about what he likes so m uch about soccer. Or what he likes about fishing. And once he does that with his hands and talk about that. But he has something in his mind that he did with hi s hands, literally. Ella described another concrete experience where her daughter, who started in 4 H as a young girl, did one of her first presentations in front of other cl ub members. Her
128 talk was about the snails in her yard. As she talked she referred to a little display board (trifold) she had made. She pointed at the ques tions about the snail and to the different pictures that she had. So we had a bunch of little garden and looking into these little cups. My daughter shared the lit tle snail s and and my daug hter was all proud of herself b ecause she was able t o teach this. Ella fostered and encouraged She described it as meetings involved youth t alking in front of their peers. The child brings his t and so in essence they are learning from each other which is the goal. So what you want at these meetings is that the kids speak as much as possibl they are leading, and they are teaching. Reflection. Ella stated that giving presentat ions about their project was a wa y for youth to share and reflect on what they had learned with others. had to research. The it to the club and they would talk about what th ey had already learned about it. That is where their talk came from an d their board is at their So they were sharing it in that manner. If these talks we re done at the county or state level , they were usually judged. When Ella was asked if youth had any real opportunity to talk to or get feedback about their xperience, she described this : I but they were just sitting there quietly , and just nodding and taking t he whole thing in. Application. Ella viewed doing an illustrated talk as an opportunity for youth to apply something they lea rned. Ella described it as an opportunity to take something they
129 learned and apply it by teach ing hen you do your illustrated talk that is when you are goin g to speak about the camping trip and what you le Ella felt that w orking together and doing talks and presentations at club meet ings also helped youth learn social and group skills. She described how her own daughter applied these skills to h er college coursework and group projects. And you know where that is helping my daughter ? N ow that she is in college, that experience working as a group... So she had to work with a group t sounded like 4 gro and then do a talk. But the other girls asked her to do the talk when they were going t o d o the presentation. Project experiences Field trips . Field trips were viewed as supporting project learning through hands on experiences. When Ella described a project experience where she felt all three phases of the experiential l earning model were involved. S he described a series of field oriented experiences her club youth were involved in. These activities helped these youth prepare for a state competitive event. We had people come from Fish and Wildlife and then had the kids go out to the lake and bring in al physica lly. We and (youth) were touching the m and learning more about them. W e also went out to the beach... at each one they had different activitie s for u e went out on the water and the girl sp oke about what we were seeing. We had a li ttle boat trip and everything. Ella then sha red another story about a trip to the beach where youth engaged in some exploratory a ctiviti es where they could see, t ouch, and identify marine life . We went to the beach with one of the fathers. He took a dip net and took out little things on the beach and they were able to identify them. So they could look at them, t ouch them and identify them. ..It was so fascinating.
130 When we were all done, we took some of the beach animals ...we put them in a bucket. A bunch of kids were crowding around that bucket on their own, w , you know , y are looking at it, lifting it up and t ouching it. One kid Oh, I know th e name of this one and that one ! kids , and they are all so into it! So in series of months we did many th ings that had to do with marine ecology. Reflection. Ella felt real learni were now sharing and telling each other what they had learned about the animals. Ella viewed this as a typ e of youth directed refl ection. Thus, she seemed to view reflection as happening more through social interactions taking place among youth than as a time where the leader guided a discussion. Ella t hen described reflection on these previous activities as happening later at a club meeting and after all the trips and activities had been completed. This reflection was for the purpose of finding out what youth were interested in learning more abou So when that was all done, the kids had a better idea o f what part of marine ecology really grabb ed their illu strated talk on some thing they were interested in. So based on what you learned what caught your attention, and that you en joy doing the most , and want to make Youth guided project learning . Ella described a number of stories where she felt youth made their own choices and guided their own learning through a project. For example, a s youth worked on th eir projects and/or prepared for project related events, t hey often created their own games or other challenges in order to learn the material .
131 Ella described one example where a club member developed a game to help other club members prepare for a st ate m arine science competition. So we had one girl and she brought in her little cards. The cards are pictures that we have from the marine ecology website of the different marine specie s, the different marine plants. So she went ahead and printed them out and Th at way they learned it at home and looked at the pictures online. They came into the club and we made a game out of it. We got prizes. The kids were happy. Youth also made their own game boards a s interactive learning tools that expanded their understand ing of a topic. These devices were also used in county events. The game board is nice because it is s o interactive. So my daughter had done one on astronomy last time. She had questions and answers. So people would come into the fair and then you try and do the game board. And it has a little light if they answer it right. So that is another way that kids are able to expand on their knowledge. description, yout h took learning from a project experience and built on it by creating another experience of their own choosing, such as building a game board to learn more about electrical circuits. Thus, they used their imagination and applied previous learning to create these game boards. These displays were interactive and a lso allowed other youth to learn from another project experience. Ella described a nother situation where girls in her club learned about food and nutrition from the county agent. They used a 4 H project book on nutrition as their guide. Afterwards these sa me girls taught this information at the club level. After these girls did this they were then selected to go to the state level and teach others. After the girls learn ed and taught all of these different things (at the club level), they were selected to go over to the state level and teach (others) what they had learned and build upon what they had learned and learn some more things, and then teach it to other kids .
132 Ella described that one year some of the girls in the club chose to do a clowning project. O nce the girls learned about clowning , they then shared/taught others in the county about it through demonstrations, county also learned about the diffe rent clowns that are out here. They got their little clown uniforms. They did some parties just for free. They learned face H invited the girls to do their clowning at (coun ty event name). And they got credits in the ir books for community servic e. recycling projects as a community service project. For one county event, youth set up a display and had a monofilament recycling station to demonstrate as people came by the displ ay. Youth at the display explained to those that came by the display about the impacts fishing line had on the environment and how to r ecycle it. We went and we had the whole monofilament station and explained it to kids so they can explain it to their own parents that when you are out there the turtles and how harmful it is. So, she was able to put tha t in her lit tle marine ecology p roject b ook as a community service, as an outreach . Ella viewed these teaching and mentoring activities as not only learning experiences but also as opportunities where youth could apply w hat they learned to another level. Learning and teaching c hallenges for youth . Ella pointed out that s ome youth struggled in their efforts to figure what and how to teach ot hers about a particular topic. She realized the process of teaching something to others was a challenge and not easy for many kids to take on. So it was hard. I can honestly say at one point they were kind of struggling a littl and this is where it gets how to present that. It was wonde rful because it was ch allenging. The girls I am a little confused, I am not sure how to teach this stuff. I
133 I speak of it? Sometimes youth were intimidated by the fact that they were teaching something an adult normally taught or that they were younger or just shorter t han the ones they were teaching. And it was funny because one of the girls said that it was a little intimidating becau se she was 17 and at that point sh e w as teaching other nd You would think that a n adult would be And there were boys there who were taller than her and he was teaching kid s her age or a little bit older. Ella felt t hese teaching experie nces challenged youth to look at a particular topic in a different way as a teacher. The expe rience and the knowledge you have just gained, all of that has taken you all the way up to that level so that you are able to share so mething with kids your same age or maybe a few months older and feel confident about it, and feel that you can do this and Ella considered mentoring and teaching others a wonderful learning experience for youth , because doing so often took the m out of their comfort zone and expanded their understanding of something. Reflection in project books and reports . Although youth began working on project activities in September, they may not record anything in the actual project books until the end o f the club year. Thus, Ella viewed the timing of reflection on a project was more likely to occur at the end of the year when project books and reports were actually mayb described that the project report typically included reflective questions club youth have
134 du experiences and challenges. This meant youth had to think back on the project they d id and answer these questions on paper. An important part of the project report was the project story. Youth were highly encouraged to complete a project story. Ella explained that the project story was ion of what they learned from the when you are goi Ella wanted youth to do more than just write down what they did in the project story. When I do my project report , O kay . I did this, I shared that, and what knowledge did I acquire at the end of the re This is wh Ella emphasized the importance of having club members write down what they learned as a result of what they did. Parents were encouraged to help their child with this part. This was a real learning curve for the parents , because their children were not often Ella wanted to help parents see the important role the project story played in the learning process. Ella described the role of the project report as no only helping youth to th ink through their past year , but to help them think about the next year , too . The project report asked youth to describe the project(s) they were interest in doing the next year. Did they want to expand on the same project or do something different? Ella v iewed this as a way to help club youth reflect back on the past year and to think about what they
135 wanted to learn in the next year. To her, t his provided youth with motivation and aspirations for achieving a set of goals. Building on m ulti year projects. S ome 4 H pr ojects were only completed for one year , and others occurred over multiple years. Ella viewed multi year projects as providing youth with more opportunities to expand and build on their project learning . I had a friend who did hens and chickens, and she did that for eight or nine years. But then one year she did an investigation on what they eat, then the next year she did the diseases, and so it progressed year by year. She did that for many, many years. Applying learning in future. Ella also des cribed the application of learning as someth ing that happened at a later time, and not necessari ly as a phase following reflection and a specific exper ience. In addition, application was not necessarily viewed as a leader guided ph ase. Instead, Ella believ ed the application of something learned in 4 H was more likely to happen m To illustrate this, Ella described the story of a young girl who had been involved in the 4 H marine ecology contest for many years. She graduated from high school but returned to help We had one girl that had already graduated out of 4 H, she was already he came back to the club a nd she was teaching the Cloverb uds. So she literally took over the whole marine ecology with t he Cloverb uds. ecology that she was able to at every single meeting to do something anyway because she did it for so many ery natural So she came back and she was project leader for the Cloverb uds the entire year . Another story Ella shared described how her own daughter reflected back on what she had learned in a 4 H marine science pr oject. Her college anatomy class used the same approach to learning was used in her 4 H marine science project.
136 She did the marine ecology event and she said that the whole time she was The teacher had laid everything out the same so that the entire time she was going from one bone to another a She said that the entire time the 4 H marine ecology event was on her mind because it was the same process, the same way of learning that we were doing at the club level or at the aquarium. So that same method of learning came back to her when she was doing the anatomy, and it was very familiar to her. Competitive event experiences The 4 H program offered a wealth of competitive e vents in which y outh could get involved. These events are tied to many project areas and offered at county, and sometimes at district and state levels. Ella stressed to parents that the trophy was fun to get but was not the end all goal. What youth actually learned throug h the project and the experiences involved was the most important. Engaging the whole person. Ella told a story about a dance performance given by her daught er and another club member. At the event they performed as a team. Together they won the performanc e but only one trophy was available. The officials trophy to her teammate , who had none. Ella described her daughter as having learned from previous experiences what wa s important about the competitive process . Her s involvement seemed to go beyond the physical experience . did your sights on that as You want the child to learn and grow as a person. But the frien d was thrilled with the o You are learning as a resul t of whatever the experience is! Applicatio n. Ella felt her daughter applied what she had learned by making the personal decision to give the trophy to her friend who did not have one. Thi s sense of
137 generosity and contri bution to another seemed to be an outcome of her daughter s earlier le arning ex periences in the club. troph ies. She had never won a trophy Automatically when she saw that there was only one trophy for the both of them and it was a beautiful trophy life because she learned it was the ex perience tha not the little trophy at the end of the year. Community s ervice experiences ed to participate in community service in their project area but other forms of community service projects were also done. Idea s for community service project s often came from the leaders, b ut some ideas also came from youth or parents. . Engaging in community service projects often exposed youth to unfamiliar areas of life or set tings. Ella described one community service project her club did every year that generated a great deal of excitement in the club. This se rvice project brought youth out into the community interacting with senior citizens in nursing homes around Christmas time . Every youth had a role to play and they ran most of the program . they can be some kind of leadership. It is all run by t he kids. The parents are just helping o ut with rehearsals and stuff...we have a whole we usually have 40 to 50 senio r citizens come to our programs. The kids are going to do all different performances for the senior citizens. So we have every child do going to give them the little or naments to take to their rooms .
138 Ella felt this event provided youth with an opportunity to speak to another segment of the population, other than the ir own peers. Ella prepared youth for interacting with the seniors and how the experience might impact them. t the child to be afraid. They [senior citizens] are all in wheelchairs , whole conversat ion with the child, b ut some cannot. But the kids are told respond too well in sentences. Ella also wanted the youth to realize the impact they might have on these senior citizens and how their singing or even presence could bri ghten their day. Ella was proud of the youth who did the nursing h ome community service. T hey we were doing it all E lla stated that doing community service had an influence on youth because it Reflecting in project books and reports . reflect o n what they did and learned in their community service project s in the final project report. The goals of community service were wr itten down at the beginning of the year. Youth then worked toward these goals and later recorded how they achieved these goals in the project report. Community se I f you have something that you have a goal to work toward you m ake sure it is accomplished. It almost kind of forc e I have to do community service because it has to go into the These reports were often done at the end of the 4 H year , even if the community service occurred much ea rlier in the year. Ella felt youth thought about what they would write in their final report, regardless of when the actual event was held. To help youth, Ella kept a calendar of all the activities they did. Ella tried to get the club together after the co mmunity service event, or perhaps at another meeting, to talk about what
139 happened . However, a dedicated time to reflect on a community service activity was not always convenient for the club . Application of learning. Community service activities not only engaged youth in real concrete expe riences outside of the club, they also provided opportunities for youth to apply something they learned in the club to a different setti ng or situation. Ella felt every single project a child did in the club could in some way be applie d outside the club or integrated into a commu nity service project. For example, in one community service youth used their sewing skills to create little bear outfits for disabled children. An other community service invol ved a club member applying skills le arned in a cooking and cake decorating proj ect f or their Sunday school classes. Sometimes the community service projects themselves helped youth apply their learning in new ways. For example, the nursing home community service was done every year . T hose wh o participated before often mentored new ones about what was involved and how they could help. Another service project engaged the club youth in teaching classroom students about monofilament recycling. Youth had learned about monofilam ent recycling in the club. Leadership experiences Ella as being integrated into all club activities projects, community service, civi c engagement, and club meetings. Youth also lea rned about leadership through county, district, and state councils, as well as a number of 4 H events where youth have opportunities to learn about the legislative process at state and national levels (i.e., 4 H Leadership Adventure Weekend, 4 H Legislatur e, 4 H Day at the Capitol). She indicated they have been taught all these skills and these experiences
140 helped youth learn how to lead others. Ella worked a lot with training the club officers , the club. their project area. This leadership component was fulfilled if youth led or taught others about something in their project area. Thus , giving a talk, teaching , and me ntoring others were also considered to be leadership experiences. s club had a table display they had put together highlighting their marine ecology project. Youth had were challenged to step out of their comfort zone in order to expand their abilities. They are learning how to speak to the public. You know it is not easy to have a perfect stranger c ome to your table and you are ten years old and you have to establish communication in a subj ect area . It is h ard for adults, so imagine a ten year old! So they were doing this and s peaking to learn ed. So they are sharing their learning with someon e else who is a perfect stranger. Cloverbud leadership. T he youngest members of 4 H, were not expected to have a leadership component. However, Ella still gave them roles to play in club meetings. She felt they needed to at least have simple opportunities, so she let them lead the Pledge of Allegiance during club meetings. Ella shar ed a story about one Cloverbud leading an activity after giving a brief talk on ma natees to the club. This simple leadership rol But the paren Bring in a coloring page of a manatee and then your child will be the one to give out the paper a The Cloverbuds love this because they are in re telling the rest of the kids Now today color in this
141 manatee. So . So y ou see how the y are already thinking about leadership? Reflecting on Ella viewed reflection as a great way to learn mistakes. Learning came from how you handled your mista kes. Reflecting on the mistake helped turn a negative into a positive the next time around. In any event that you do, make it for positive. And le Ok, this is a big event, we worked real lub to things can go wrong when you are a leader. You could mess up here or there. But you know, you pick yourself up and you , e wanted to And then now this is going to be an opportunity to think next time how do we ahead of time, before any event, how can we foresee anything that can go wrong and how can we learn from our mistakes?...L learning something That is how you reflect in leadership. Applying leadership skills. Ella described that w hat youth learned through teaching, or in county, district, and state councils, and/or state or national 4 H leadership even ts , was then brought back to the club and applied in club meetings and Those are skills they can bring into the club level, and help out at the club level to lead little kids Ella described these lea dership opportunities as being experientia l, because youth took something they had learned and gave it to others. T hat is, youth learned from their experiences and too k the learning to other levels. Ella felt l Civic engagement expe riences Ella provided a number of civic engagement opportunities for her club during the described the ir initi al reactions as they entered a building.
142 When we first met in the building at the bottom, they were scared. They were unsure of what we were going to do or how he (official) was going to because the officers and I already had que stions y That really helped loosened t because in their minds this was a big government official They felt very at ease after they went into the room and they sat down. This experience, like other experiences Ella d escribed, seemed to bring children out of th eir comfort zone into a new situation that challenged them mentally and emotionally . This exposure not only , but the whole child. So, with Leg (4 H Legislature) the child actually gets a chance to sit in the seat of a real senator or real representative and they actually get to study period of time where they were researching and debating and learning how to do tha t g, that is the strength of 4 H. Another opportunity was 4 H Day at the Capitol in Tallahassee. This event provided 4 H youth from all over the state with an opportunity to see and experience state government at work . They walked through buildings, saw government officials, and went through a mock trial in the capitol. Ella pointed out that youth were doing real capitol. Ella desc ribed how one time youth had the oppo rtunity to actually meet with their state representative. Although they came prepared with questions to ask , t he experience was intimidating at first. ing it at the state level at that point. So they went ahead and asked the questions and it was a really good feeling because these men , when they stay in school and how important it is and all the rest of it.
143 The club officers were usually the ones that spoke to government officials, yet Ella felt these types of experiences provided all club youth with first hand exp osure to how government worked. Challenges to the Learning Process Ella felt that developing hands on activities for her club youth was sometimes a challenge. The challenge was how does a leader bring in something that is hands on as opposed to just speaking to youth? To help her with this, Ella took time in the summer and lo oked at the project books to get ideas for hands on activities and when they might fit in to the calendar. She gave an example using the forest ecology project. But at the club level, how do you do something that is hands on when you are doing forest ecolo gy but you are not out there hiking? Hiking is easy it inside the club with a hands st looking at screen or a book? Ella felt reflection was by far the ea id at the club level and the illustrated talks and community services they did related to their projects. At the same time, getting parents to understand the important role of project books and project reports in r eflection was a challenge for her . parents and kids the knowledge and the vision that what you are doing will be in the book. They can try and start filling in the book now, but there are some things you cannot because a lot of it is reflection. Most of it is reflecting on what you do. Ella realized that waiting until the end of the year to help youth reflect on what they did and learned was perhaps som ething that needed rethinking. t may be good to maybe expand on the reflecting part on a month by month basis, as opposed to doing it the future. Applying learning and moving to the next level in a pr oject was also viewed
144 as challenging. Ella wanted to see how learning could go to the next level but creating a way or seeing how this happened was a challenge. S he wanted to think about this. Reflections on the Interview, E xperiential Learning , and Traini ng Ella emphasized that youth enjoyed doing hands there is anything kids love more than doing something with their Ella also emphasized that using these approaches allowed youth to fail but to get back up and try agai n. When they mess up , it felt an experiential approached helped broa their mind to new things. Ella described the process as helping kids to Other benefits of using experien tial learning approaches , as described by Ella , seemed more driven by the 4 H context and culture , thus making the distinction bet ween context of 4 H from the processes involved in experiential learning more difficult . It gives them something to do outside of our media obsessed youth. Just sitting around , watching TV all day long. That is w hat they are doing all summer. they are serving others, particularly when they are serving other And t hey are looking at you as a leader serving others and they they care about other people outside of themselves. And it gives kids a mindset that the world does not revolve around y ou. So you are doing something for someone else. Ella felt the interviews helped her become more aware of the different components of the model and gave her a chance to think about them more, especially reflection and application. She saw a need to do the reflection component more often , but also felt that leaders needed more training in how to apply learning to other levels. thought that through as much as we should maybe. I think we need a little more trainin g on how how to take it to the higher level of applying it elsewhere. It is so mething we need to think about.
145 Since project books were often the framework for a project and guided the learning, Ella su ggested that 4 H specialists integrate ideas and suggestions on how to apply learning as part of the project books. Ella felt having this would help leaders think through the project more at the beginning of the year. Ella expressed appreciation for the op portunity to talk about her club and share her experiences. Club Leader 2 Ruby Introducing Ruby and Her Club Ruby has been involved with 4 H for 40 years. She was in 4 H wh en her mother was a leader and eventually becam e a co leader with her mother. She had been a club leader for 31 years, but her community club had been in existence for 40 years. The club was a combin ation of home schooled youth and those enrolled in schools. They an setting. Her club consisted of 17 yo uth, ranging in ages from 5 to 16 years old. Table 4 1 provides an overview of Ruby and her club. The projects youth were involved in were sewing, food and nutrition, woodworking, and leisure arts. Her mother taught s ewing , and Ruby taught the woodworking project. Both boys and girls were involved in each project. For service their community. For leadership, a number of club yout h served as camp counselors . Becoming a Leader Ruby had a long history of her family being involved in 4 H. Ruby said she was H when they were ten years old. When her mother and aunt were 18 they started a club in
146 New York. When her mother married her dad they moved to Florida. Her dad then encouraged her mother to become a 4 H leader again, so she did. As a young child Ruby went to all the 4 H functions before she could even join. When Ruby was eight she joined 4 H. As a club member she did public speaking, breads, and flower arranging. After she graduated from high school she became a club leader with her mother. Ruby went to college and received a degree in medical technolo gy. She then worked in a medical lab for a number of years. She then got married, had a daughter, quit her job, and then focused on being a mother. Her children were in her 4 H club. Ruby wanted to continue being involved in 4 H because her kids loved it a nd she enjoyed teaching what she knew. She considered 4 Previous Education and Training Ruby did not remember having any formal training she as a leader. She used to go to leaders meetings years before and thought her count y 4 H agent held training s at some of these meetings . Ruby descr ibed t hat her mother attended trainings and that she ( ) that what she learned as a mother, such as cooking , sewing, and craft working, helped her mo re as a club leader than anything she learned i n college. When she was shown a picture of the experiential learning model during the interview, Ruby indicated she w as not familiar with the model and did not recall ever lea rning about it through any leader meetings . Her Role as Club Leader Ruby was the co leader of her club , but her mother was the overall o rganizational leader for it. Ruby felt sh e was both a guide and teacher, but wanted club youth to do most of the work themselves. She was always open and willing to answer any questions
147 from youth, but was also quick to let them know if she felt they were not ready to move to the next step. listen to what they have to say and then I will let t to do that given their skill level. I may try and steer them into something a little bit easier , and then nex so I try to teach them. As a leader, she offered youth choices , based on what she felt the y could do given their skills. She explained her approach this way. Look you know you are not qui So they have to realize that they are just not ready for that We give them an option. And then they pick which one they want . New youth often came into the club being very shy , but over time and through help and encouragement from Ruby and her mother, they opened up and gained confidence to speak in front of the group. Ruby described one situation like this: a word and then after a few years in 4 it in front of the other kids. Th en we ask, ou try giving one at events day ? T hen we work with them. She also encouraged youth to not to be afraid to talk to adults, such as contes t judges, about their projects. ything. You go up there and tell them your name, how old you 4 H, and what your project is and you start telling them how you did it because you know how you did it because you did it! Yea h , we helped we guided you you did the work Involving Parents and Other Adults Ruby did n ot allow any parents to be at club meeting s because she observed ch the meeting, they did so in another room. Ruby did provide parents with information
148 about upcoming events and any necessary paperwork for them to complete. She did not hand this information to the youth , because she felt they would forget to give it to them or t hat it would have gotten lost. Parents were expected, of course, to obtain any materials thei r child needed for a project. Parents did not seem to have any other Ruby was asked if parents ever said anything to her about what their children were learning and about their projects in the club. never really asked the parents. However, in liked to cook at home and t heir parents would let the m do so. R uby described that parents sometimes came back and said their child made a dish at home based on what they learned in the club. Beliefs on Learning in the 4 H Club and were socializing. She felt that the parents of the youth we re happy with the club, little computer . busy creating things they were interested in. Ruby felt that the choice of be ing in a 4 H club should be left to the youth involved. She knew p arents who basically forced their kids into joining, and she could tell that they did not want to be there, and often ended up dropping out. But those who wanted to join often came to every meeting and were more into it . Set rules and expectations . Ruby wa nted to keep things fun but made sure youth knew and followed the rules of the club. Ruby stressed the importance of establishing ground rules in her club and youth were expected to follow them. She expected them to be quiet when someone else was speaking and raise their hand and
149 wait to be recognized by the club president, if they wanted to speak. The younger groups, especially the five year olds, often did not know they needed to be quiet and pay attention at meetin gs. Learning important skills . Ruby felt 4 provided opportunities for children to learn important life skills. to know how to behave, they have to know how to get along with each other, show respect to each other, and they have to know how to . Moving beyond comfort zone . Ruby felt club experiences helped youth move beyond thei r comfort zone, because the club offered them opportunities they would not ge t at home. If you are always in your comfort zone , to learn anything different. We have them do things they norma Some kids Choosing activities . When Ruby looked fo r or selected activities for the club, an important factor she considered was the skill level necessary for the activity. This was especially true for woodworking. If a child wanted to build a large bench but lacked the skills, Ruby would find more suitabl e options. The challenge with woodworking was that if a child made a mistake, a new piece of wood was needed, and the child had to start over. This cost the child time and the family money. Preparation time was also a consideration in choosing an activity. If an activity called for extensive preparation and a large number of youth were involved, there would not be enough time to do it unless she did the preparation herself. Ruby also believed that project activities should be interesting to the youth. To ma ke sure, she gave youth a say in the types of activities selected. She did not believe in just telling youth what they were going to make .
150 Describing Experiential Learning Although Ruby was not familiar with the experiential learning model and had no real training, her descriptions seemed to indicate she understood important model components . Learn by doing . Ruby described learn by doing as a hands on approach to learning where youth did most of the work . She provided an example of what this looked like i n her club. Youth were in the kitchen working on a recipe. They did the work, but she described how she guided them through the process . We ask them , Oh, y No, you have to crack i t in a Why do you Well yeah, but you also want to make sure the egg is good. You got to sme bad egg , and you put it in your batter you have to throw that whole batter out and you have to start over. Experiential learning . Ruby described the process of experiential learning by th learned. Ruby gave the following example of a situation where she felt all three phases of experi ential learning were invol ved. Well I know ( girl s name) made s ome stuffed shells Saturday ... and she make the stuffed shells again. Ruby indicated she provided feedback to the young lady and made suggestions to her about her dish since she planned on making the pas ta shells again. Although Ruby was not familiar with the experiential learning model and did not specifically use the words ofte n associated with it ( do, reflect, and apply) in her description, her words
151 seemed to indicate there was a hands on experience, a chance what the young lady did, and an situation. Concrete experience . Ruby described that a concrete experience involved doing something with their hands and not just describing how to do something to another person or group. Ruby described that a hands on approach helped youth remember things better. But if they showed m e how they did it, like when the ki ds do a ctually seeing something done. I mean we can explain something to them, but until they actually do it, t Reflect ion. Ruby described the process of reflection as when they went back over something and described what they did. Ruby felt they did this at the club level in an informal way. She made youth stand up and say something about how they made it and what they di d. Describing Club Structure Club meetings were typically two hours in length and held in the early afternoon from 1 pm to 3 pm. Ruby and her mother planned each meeting beforehand . What they did in the clu b was based on the time of year before the fair versus after the fair , which was in January . Ruby and her co leader mother encouraged youth to enter projects into the fair. This goal seemed to drive the completion of the projects and kept them on a timel ine. Projects were worked on for the first hour. When youth first arrived they got their project materials from a basket or bag and began to work on them. They started from wherever they left off from the previous meeting. Ruby and her co leader were there to help them. After an hour,
152 they had their business meeting. Their club had officers an elected president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer. They also had a refreshment committee , and two of their members were county council delegates. Club bus iness meetings were held around a big dining room table. At each meeting youth followed a general agenda. They did the pledges, went through the then discussed old business, new business, and upcoming events. Ruby and her mom usually to ok over and talked about past events to get everyone caught up , since some had missed meetings. Then they also talked about events that were coming up , like the fair. Then they adjourn ed the meeting. Ruby indicated that during club meetings, youth often pr ovided suggestions on other activities or things they wanted to do as part of the club meeting. Ruby emphasized that what they actually did depended on the project s yo uth were working on. After the meeting youth went back to working on their projects. The secretary kept records of who was doing what project and how far along they were by the end of the year. If a child got behi nd on a project, the leaders set up additional meeting times in order to help youth get their projects done. At the end of ea ch meeting, parents came to pick up their children , and Ruby would provide any additional info rmation that they might need related to upcoming events. Ruby indicated that her club youth were expected to complete a project book. They obtained these project books from the county ex tension office. Ruby allow ed youth to choose their own project . If a youth did not want to do sewing, they could choose woodworking or a leisure arts craft. If none of those were an option, Ruby would sit down with the youth and com e up with other ideas. She did not want to force them into
153 a project area if they were not interested in it . Ruby felt that youth completed projects because they enjoyed doing them and had an interest in the topic . h , it comes from the heart. f Describing Club Experiences Ruby was asked various questions related to how she vie wed youth as learning throu gh different club experiences. Ruby shared experiences related to projects, community service, and leadership. I n her stories and descriptions, the researcher look ed for possible components and processes involved in experientia l learning . Project e xperiences involved in three main project areas sewing, woodworking, and cooking. There also wa s the option of doing a project in leisure arts, such as crocheting and painting. Youth first worked on projects they planned to enter into the fair, such as sewing and woodworking. After the fair they switched to cooking. Ruby de have accomplished something by the end of the meeting, especially when we do the When youth arrived for the club meeting, they started working on their projects. T he expectation was that projects were only worked on during club meetings. Youth were not allowed to take any project materials home. Ruby established this rule because she felt youth would forget t o bring back the materials. All the necessary tools and ma terials were . However, if needed, the leisure arts projects coul Getting projects done for the fair in January p rovided a goal for youth to work on from September through December.
154 Ruby and her mother worked with each child for a short time then moved onto the next child as needed . Each project was worked on in stages. How much each child got done at a meeting was dependent on how many youth were there and what project they were working on. There were a limited number of tools and machines. If there achine and those that attended got more done. S ewing project s . Both boys and girls were involved in sewing. Youth were e ncouraged to enter what they sewed into the fair. Sewing was done around a big table with multiple sewing machines. There were only three machines so youth took turns working on them. Leaders tr ied to keep all youth busy doing something related to their se wing projects, such as stuffing pillows , while they waited for their turn . Youth were first taught the basic parts of the sewing machine an d how to control the pedals . Ruby , have to go step by or co leader . Ruby described how sewing was a progressive series of steps where youth n ew to sewing had to start by learning the basics before moving to more complicated pieces. T h e longer youth were involved in a project the more experienced they became and were able to do more on their own. She (co leader) starts off with a sewing machine with no thread and with a piece of paper with lines and she teaches them how to control the p edal get material and they practice doing straight lines on the materials and do circles and squares . And she has them make either a bean bag or a pin cushion, to start. Then they can make a pillow a tote bag. Ruby described sewing as a progression of skills and that she had to keep children from jumping ahead and work ing on proj ects beyond their skill levels.
155 They think just because they made a pillow that they ca n make a whole outfit, but...you have to start simple. You have to start small and then work your way up...because doing a pillow is just straight lines , but then if you want to make a shirt you have to know how to do the sleeves and how to cuff stuff and button holes. Applying skills. Ruby described sewing as a progression of skill building processes and that n ew ski lls were acquired then applied at the next level. This building and applying of skills over time was evident as youth started sewing more complex patterns. They also had to learn from their mistakes and how to do something different the ne xt time. Sharing. Y outh often showed each other what they were working on or what they had made. They also helped each other out and even shared ideas with each other as they worked discovery when pieces of material finally came together to make an outfit. They would pin the pattern on the fabric, cut it out, sew it together and then s ee how the pieces came together W ood working project s . Youth involved in the woodworking project went with Ruby in to the garage. The garage had a band saw, skill saw, and a drill. Woodworking was not an indep endent activity. Because of safety concerns, youth w ere not allowed to work by themse lves. Youth had to wait in line outside the garage to take their turn on a machine. Ruby worked one on one with each youth in the garage. There was a real element of danger using the machines , and safety was always an issue . Youth were taught safety rules and how the dr i ll worked before anything else. I take them one at a time out into the garage. We have a band saw. W e ha ve a skill saw. We have a drill. You know , thing works and all the safety.
156 Afterwards youth were give n choices about the types of wood products they could do . Less experienced ones typically created simple cutting boards. Because of safety concerns , Ruby was always there to assist youth . Then I stand with them and we both have our hands on the wood , and we are both guiding the wood through the saw. As they gained more skills, they had more choices about what they could do. Like sewing, woodworking also followed a series of steps in order to get something right. So we go step by step how to do it. If they that it takes time and for them not to be in a big rush to get it done. So you have to do it right to get it done. If proper steps were not followed right, youth were likely to make a mi stake , causing them to have to start over with a whole new piece. when they finally saw how their simple piece of wood turned into something else. Ruby also felt these projects involved t he bui lding and applying of skills over time. Cooking project . The cooking project s started after the fair in January. At meetings , club youth were broken i nto smaller groups of five. Both leaders worked in the kitchen with the youth. Each group was given a recipe, the ingredients, and then wor ked together to make the dish from the recipe. Members of each group read over the reci pe and divided up their tasks. Youth in each group took turns doing different things related to the recipe as they moved around a table. E ach group worked through the re cipe, but if the direction s called for a skill such as cra cking an egg open , leaders stepped in and ass isted if necessary in showing youth the correct method. Older youth were more able to do food preparation by the mselves because they typically had more e xperience with the project. The younger children were more closely supervised by Ruby and were taught the proper way to do things in the kitchen.
157 I was there in the kitchen with them, but they did it. You know they read they have t o read the recipe through before y much let them make the stuff. As in sewing and woodworking, a level of precision was nee ded , and steps had to be followed in order for the food to turn out right. Ruby taught them how to properly measure liquid After the food cooked, youth removed the food from the stove and p laced the dishes on the table. A group p hoto was taken with the dishes . Then everyone had a chance to taste what they made. Applying learning. Ruby indicated they also gave youth recipe s they had worked on at a club meeting to take home. This way they coul d make the dish at home and add any additional ingredients or make the changes that they wanted to. So they went home and had their mom get the ingredients. Ruby stated that sometimes parents told her their child made the same dish at home they learned at a club meeting. So s he felt that what one learned in the club might also be applied at home . Ruby felt she was teaching youth important skills they could use the rest of their inf luenced by wha t they had learned through 4 H. W hen you are learning sewing and cooking, you learn the basics first , and then you apply that for t he rest o f your life. One boy went on to become a chef because of what he had learned with the cooking. I think one girl is a home ec teacher because of the sewing and cooking she lear ned. So everyone has the basics. you apply it. Youth mentoring youth . Ruby often observed that club youth stepped in and helped each other during c lub meetings and as they worked on projects together. Woodworking was the exception , because only one child was allowed in the garage at a
158 time. In sewing, youth helped each other pin and cut. With foods everybody helped put t hings together and cleaned up. Depending on what the group was doing, older ones work ed with younger ones. Sharing through talks and demonstrations. Ruby required every youth to do a but provided an opportunity for youth to stand in front of their peers and talk about their projects, what they did and what they learned. These talks were a required part of their project books. Giving a talk at the club level, however informal, was viewed by Ruby as a nother opportunity for youth to reflect on and share with others what they did and learned as a result of a project experience. We will ask who would like to say how we made the cookies or whatever you learn. We make th em stand up whenever they talk. Although not require d to do so, she sti ll encouraged her club youth to do a talk at county level the county level, she worked with them to get them ready. Even her own son, who she described as very shy, would o pen up and give a talk on someth ing that he enjoyed a demonstration in front of judges. At events day, he brings a finished product, he brings all of the ingredients and they have to talk the w to give a reason why, they have to tell them the nutritional value, they have to know how they did it, they have to tell why they like it, you know, they have to tell different things. Ruby pointed out that some youth got up and said nothing. However, the judges were very good at encouraging the youth to talk. Ruby worked with youth in the club,
159 especially the shy ones, on their demonstrations and tal ks. She found that over a few years they would overcome their shyness and do a demonstration. However, doing demonstrations and talks took time and planning on the part of the youth. Ruby explained why. now, and do it! I mean it takes a lot You have to take time to do it. You have to d o research making. You have to get your poste rs made. You have to do it in certain order . Applyin g learning in future . As a leader and mother, Ruby understood the beneficial impact these experiences had on youth, especially later in life. But not all youth jumped at the chance to talk in front of their peers. Ruby viewed the skills they learned throug h giving talks and demonstrations were likely t o be applied later in a 4 H life , even beyond their club years . She was quic k to let them know how this might happen. Sometimes th You know what? gonna have to And when you go for a job interview you have to be able to sit there and talk to that person and tell them about you and why you are better for that jo b than anybody else. Sharing. their projects when parents came to pick up the youth. Youth often just stood in front of their parents and explained the whole thing to them. Ruby also de scribed how y outh also had opportunities for sharing project learning with their friends at school events, the H open h ouse , or at the fair. County fair experiences . Ruby described that entering their projects into the county fair added a new le vel of learning for youth. Entering something in the fair required youth to set goals and demonstrate responsibility for achieving them, but also
160 brought a sense of challenge or risk to the experience. Getting projects into the county fair was a major goal If youth wanted to enter a f ood item into fair, they first prepare d the food at home. Then they brought the food to the county fairgrounds for the judging a week before the fair opened. Youth had to face the judges and explain to them how they made their dish. The judges tasted the dish, gave it a score, and often provided some feedba ck to the youth about their dish. Youth would later record this event and any ribbons or awards they received in their project report. Y outh were also expec ted to be at the fair certain hours with their 4 H exhibit. During this time youth handed out information and talked to people about 4 H. Youth would sometimes talk with families/people that came by about their projects and what they did. This encouraged them to meet and talk with people they did not know . Role of project books and reports . Project books were usually completed as a group at the end of the year in March and April. She emphasized that although they used the books, they might not actually do the projects described in the books. However, whatever they did, she tried to make the activity fit one of the books. The food and cooking project was the exception. They used the actual activities found in those books. Ruby described what youth turned in at e nd of year. the county be specific for t loverbud, Junior, I ntermediate, and S a nd t hen you have your project and then you have your project story, your project photographs, gotten can go in there. Then it all goes together in a little folder with po ckets.
161 Ruby and her co leader helped youth complete the project book and report requirements. They also checked the rep orts for grammar and spelling. As a club, they went through each project book and talked about the year from beginning. They went through the ye project books in order to help them fill in the new project book/report. The club secretary provided dates for when the club did things during the year and other information about t he different projects and events. Photos taken throughout the year were brought in so youth could select some for their report . As part of their report, youth had to write a story about their project describing what they did and learned. Each age level had their own project book and report form to complete. This report form H program. Ruby and her mother often had to help Cloverbud members complete their reports. The club worked together on the overal l story and each child added his or her own story components . Some youth wrote lengthy ones and some would write only two sentences. The challenge was getting youth to focus and write on what they did and learned in the p roject(s). Ruby preferred to do pro ject activities first , and then write in the books at the end of the club year. This seemed to work best for her and the club, although youth complained at times about completing the project books and reports. to do it? This is such hard wo Ruby described her response to such complaints. This is go ing to help you. When you apply for college you are going to say Oh, it will help them in the future. And they look at us like never u
162 Yet the final product each child produced became a source of pride and achievement. Then in August, the youth had an achievement night at the county level and awards were given out for completing the projects and the reports. T hen when they get it done and their parents have to go through it and they have to s are so proud of what they did. Leadership and civic engagement e xperiences Ruby had a number of club members who had served o n the different 4 H leadership councils over the years. Some even went on to be state presidents in 4 H. Two current club members were on the 4 H county council. As delegates they were required to go to the county council meetings and report back to the cl ub as to what happened. There were also opportunities in the club for youth to take on junior leadership roles where they helped other youth in project areas such as sewing. Some club youth had worked as camp counselors and enjoyed it. Ruby described a sto ry where she was teaching a painting class at camp and how a young camp counselo r helped her set up the class. The counselor had to learn the steps of what Ruby was teaching in order to help her during the class. Ruby described counselors as also helping h er teach something through direct experience. T know when they come in in the morn o they need to learn how to help the child pin something or cut ou t mater ial...B ut the counselors are also lea Well how doing and then they will show them how to do it. Community s ervice e xperiences e project they did every year. They s on bottles and jars, and the
163 tops of plastic containers , such as those that held butter or yogurt. These items were not recycled through curbside recycling in local communities, but could be recycled through another venue. Their club had a network of people who collected these caps for other recycling process. Youth remo ved any paper or metal pieces from the pile of caps they sorted. They worked i n small g roups to sort the caps and questioned each other about certain caps and whether they were good or not. Once sorted, Ruby and other volunteers from the club took the sort ed caps to a large storage bin where they were packed and shipped to recycling center. Funds from the recycling project were handled by another person who then used the monies to purchase wheelchairs and guide dogs for handicapped children. Ruby indicated that youth knew where the caps were going and what the money was for. Youth also knew they were collecting and sorting the caps in order to help Ruby did not describe any additional opportunities youth may have had to talk about or ref lect on these club experiences. Challenges to the Learning Process When Ruby was asked what challenges she face d in helping youth learn, sh e described that one challenge was handling their behaviors and attitudes. Ruby often stresse d the need to work together as a gro up, especially in cooking. Sometimes a youth did not want to do something as part of a group effort. Ruby described her approach with a young lady who was unwilling to help with a cooking recipe. an
164 Other concerns related to machines breaking dow n causing delays in projects. She also expressed concerns about safety, such as when youth used the sharp knives in the kitchen. Safety was also a concern in woodworking with all the equipment involved . Ruby had to be very strict with youth about paying at tention to the task at hand. Sometimes youth who were waiting would cause distractions for a person inside the garage working with Ruby on the band saw. We had I am at the saw with her and she keeps looking back at the other kids, because th And I turned it (saw) off need to go inside and close the door and I [the leader] will come get because she (the girl) is looking at the you and not paying atte ntion nd someone is going to get cut. Reflections on the Interview, Experiential Learning, and Training Ruby felt that 4 H offered youth a lot of projects they could do on their ow n and then share what they were doing and the progress they were making at the club level. However, Ruby also expressed that new leaders often feel overwhelmed because they try to do too much with a new club. Then they get burned out and quit. She felt they should start with a small group and pick one project that all youth could agree on. Some of them (leaders) think that they need to do everything and you then whatever the majority wants When asked what kind of training would help her as a leader better integrate experiential learning approaches, she was not sure as she had not received any formal training as a leader nor was she aware of what kind of training was currently offered. However, she felt she had been doing experiential learning activities all along. She indicated the interviews helped her become more aware of how it worked in 4 H.
165 Club Leader 3 Marta Introducing Marta and Her Club Marta was the organizational leader of one of oldest community clubs in her county. She has been involved in 4 H for 25 years and a club leader for 20 years. Her club has been in existence for over 30 years. It was a large club with close to 30 members. M embers consisted of both home school and non homeschool youth. The club was considered rural but had youth from several community housing developments. The club met twice a month for 90 minutes at the county extension office. The club focused on various pr ojects. They d id gardening, sportfishing, H Their club had been involved in several community service projects. They had several youth involved in 4 H councils. Club youth were generally not that involved in state competitiv e events . Table 4 1 provides an overview of Marta and her club. Becoming a Leader Marta was never really involved in 4 H when she was young . She heard about the program when her children were youn g. She enrolled her children in 4 H and joined a club. She t hen volunteered to help with the club. She was asked by the organizational leader at the time to lead a certain g roup, which she did. T he leader later had to quit due to health concerns and Marta became the organ izational leader for the club. For Marta, wa nting to wo rk with youth was always there. Growing up she helped her parents with a school they had started. Marta started teaching pre school at 16 as a At the time of the interview, she explained that s he was not only leading a 4 H club but was also te aching at a private school . She also taught Sunday school classes to youth.
166 always been there, and it is just something that I always knew... that I was Marta loved the 4 H program because she felt it taught youth good moral values, the program and the impacts it had on youth. Because of this, she wanted to stay involved in 4 H even though her own children were grown up. nd I still want them to be involved because I think it is a very important organization to help the kids learn those skills th at are getting lost in society. Previous Ed ucation and Training Marta had been to several extension workshops at both county a nd d istrict levels. Some of the trainings helped new leaders understand more about 4 H and how it worked. Marta remembered attending a number of trainings she felt included something on wor that lasted two to three hours and covered a variety of topics. She attended other trainings offered by her agents on different project areas. Marta had also been to the Southern Reg ion Volunteer Leaders Forum at the Rock E agle 4 H Training Center in Georgia. She attended a number of workshops there. She enjoyed going there and used what she learned with her club . The county held leaders meetings once a month or sometimes every other month . These meetings usually involved some type of hands on learning act i vity , but more often fluctuated in what they offered leaders. Meetings also provided important information to leaders and their clubs along with announcements of any upcoming
167 events. Sometimes leaders had opportunitie s to talk with other leaders. The meetings were not usually well attended by the 4 H leaders in the county. O ne source of information for her was a large notebook she received from her county 4 know I have it in a book somewhere, but have I taken the time to really read over that? Probably Although Marta was not able to describe a particular case where she learned about experiential learning and the model specifically, she felt all of her t raining had been useful and she had applied wh at she learned in her own club. Her Role as Club Leader As the organizational leader for the club, Marta was responsible for all club paperwork, arranging meeting dates, and assigning groups to project leaders. She helped youth decide on their projects and assisted project groups, if needed. She also helped with the business portion of the meeting and made sure all the announcements ons during the meetings. She attended the leaders meetings and the fair livestock meetings and provided information to other leaders, club parents, and club youth. She even served on the 4 H livestock committee and the 4 H Association committee. Marta fel t being both organizational leader and project leader was too difficult to handle. A leader might be leading a group when parents had questions they needed answers to. This would cause disruption in the club. She preferred to be availa ble so she could answ questions and provide information as needed. Marta was mostly involved with youth during the business meetings, when they were getting ready for demonstrations, and when they were completing their project or record books. She helped them with t he writing and story port ions of their project
168 reports. Marta was less involved with the youth when they were d oing the actual projects. However, she felt part of her role was to point youth in the right direction but let them choose projects to fit their own interests and abilities . She described her role as guiding youth by showing them what they needed to do I might sta nd up and t his is what you should do i f versus what y when I work with them more individually, I think I guide them more than I do teach them because they have to figure everything out and do it. She preferred to do hands on activities where youth were able to learn something themsel ves. Marta used her teaching abiliti es in the club. However, she had they are doing everything the correct way, which really Through her experiences as a leader she learned to step back and let youth be more in charge of running the club. Whenever I first started taking over the group, I felt like everything just had But then after a while, that the kids are supposed to be running the club. This is their club, you kno w. Marta also felt club leaders should be role models for youth and should I think the biggest thing is role models. We got to be role models to the can see that. Even if we are not teachi How we react to different situations and that is important with 4 H Involving Parents and Other Adults Marta viewed her club as having a lot of parental involvement. Though some parents just dropped their children off and left, quite a few stayed to help. Some parents served as project leaders. Marta emphasized the importance of having these co leaders
169 to help her since there was no way she could do it by herself. At the beginning of the club year Marta checked with her project leaders to make sure t hey wa nted to continue being a project leader and/or stay with the same age group. Most of the project leaders had been with her from the beginning and felt comfortable with one certain age. For a project leader, having background in the proj ect subject area was helpful in making lesson plans and developing appropriate hands on activit ies related to the project topic. w think of ways you can not o nly do the hands on thing, but throw those lesso ns in there that they However, project leaders did not always have skills in a certain project area they worked with. To offset this, Marta encouraged parents/project leaders to first choose projec ts they were inter ested in and felt they could handle. The youth then chose from these project topics . This came from her personal past experience s . It before to teach something that I because that group wanted it...I t can be a challenge for the leader , too. But to choose four or five subjects that they are interested in. And th en let the students choose from t hem, because it is a challenge. Another challenge was to make sure her co leaders were happy and not too overwhelmed. If groups started to get too large, she would look for another co leader and split the groups more. If no t, this meant limiting the numbers in each group and having to turn youth away b ecause that age group was full. Beliefs on Learning in the 4 H Club Marta viewed 4 H as helping youth build their confidence and self esteem through their experiences in the cl ub. She saw youth come into the club with little confidence but then grew in their self esteem over time. She felt that being in 4 H
170 helped youth to realize they could succeed in something if they put effort into it. She also felt that being in 4 H gave th em the knowledge that they were somebody and that they were capable of becoming a leader. Being a 4 H member also helped youth learn ta felt youth were able to use what they learned through 4 H in their everyday life, though they might not even realize this fact until years later. learning or approaches she fostered to enhance the learning experi ences for her club youth. Influence of social context . Marta viewed the 4 H club as creating a learning but fun atmosphere in a group setting. Even snack time was important as it was a time for youth to socialize and talk about things in the club. Marta po inted out that when they did socialize, they often talked about what they were doing in the club at that point in time. She felt this social time was important. Being a 4 H member provided youth a sense of pride and most like being part of a football like how it is with 4 H. They stay loyal to it and help out as long as they can. The social context of 4 and not be afrai d of failure. She felt her youth realized that failure was ok in the club and to try again. This allowed youth to step beyon d their comfort zone and do things they might not normally do. Marta illustrated this by describing a situation where a child was no t afraid to try something and have it fail because the same thing happened to others. t do anything. But ot so embarrassed self o I think that is a good thing.
171 Let youth fail but help them up . Marta emphasized the importance of letting youth fail once in a while. She felt society had gotten to the poi nt where failure was negative or that nobody should fail. Marta felt 4 H provided opportunities for children to grow even through failing at something. She knew that through failure one could learn a lesson. This meant that sometimes a leader had to take a down, then help them get back up. Growth was then possible because of the encouragement leaders provided, turning a failure into something positive. Marta felt a lot of this had to do with 4 H and what it offered youth. S omet imes, it I f ailed. get that encouragement in Well, you did year. You know So that quit and they can keep going, a nd d Have youth mentor youth. Marta believed in the value of youth leading and /or mentoring other youth. This worked well for her club because of the mixed ages. She felt y ounger youth often looked up to older youth, thus influencing behavior and actions of both in her club . tle bit different of your family. They see other kids are looking up to them, and that helps them, you know, maybe think twice before doing something t out that needed help and I think that works together a lot, having the mixed group with different ages. Choose hands on activities. Whe n Marta chose activities to do with the club, she wanted them to be hands on because then youth got more excited about the project or activity . Their end of the year surveys always indicated this a nd that they wanted
172 even more. She also had to keep remindi ng herself that the club was not school so she had to limit the paperwork . Let youth choose what they wanted to learn . Marta described that youth in her club had the ability t o make choices about what they wanted to learn. She pointed out that some youth d id things in 4 H because their leader or parent expected them to, not when he or she made their own choices based on their real interests . Marta pointed out that if youth were required to do a county event or de monstration, some youth may not want to and should not be required to. Role of project books and reports . Completing project books was perceived by Marta as being an important part of th e whole learning process in 4 H . Although youth did not like doing them, there was a sense of accomplishment at the end of the year h the completed project report. Describing Experiential Learning Learn by doing. Marta described the phrase as doing something that was hand s on where the learner was actually learning as they did it. She pointed out that livestock projects were a very good example. raise itself. I t is not going to train itself. Youth nee d to get out there and work with it. Marta felt that making activities hands on was usually easiest because it was fun for youth. But doing these activities did require materials and often extra time to set up . Concrete experience. Marta described a concr ete experience as doing something with your hands but also could be a talk or demonstration. A whole process was involved in getting ready and developing your presentation before you stood in front of people. Youth h ad to plan it and get their thoughts org anized . For Marta, th e start of
173 the experience also involved the th inking or development of a concept in the mind of the learner . Reflection. Marta viewed reflection as going back and reviewing what one learned. She felt this happened mainly at the end of the projects or at the end of the year when they did their end of the year record books and/or project reports. She viewed the most complicated because youth had a harder time doing it. to trigger their own thoughts. I do the brainstorming because ...one of the children may say something, and that will trigger something in someone else, and that will trigger something in someone else, so when they do the said a certain word or said s omethi ng that triggered that thought. Application. Marta described the was taking what you learned or mis That is, whatever activity you were involved in, make it better the next tim e with what you learned before. As an example, she described how all the talks and demonstrations what they had learned about public speaking and it helped the m whenever they had to Marta also viewed application not so much as a guided phase led by a leader but as another experience where youth applied something they learned in 4 H , such as a skill, to that new experience . This applicati on of learning was likely to take place the fol We might not see it at al l this year
174 in our 4 H project. It may be two or three years down the road that they apply something that they lea rn from being in 4 H or from that project. Experiential learning. Marta was familiar with the experiential learning model She described experiential learning as a She felt the process worked better in 4 H than in H, you are not Marta gave the following example to illustrate a situation where she felt all three phases of exp eriential learning were involved. One year her c lub youth did a group project on bicycle safety. To help them apply what they learned, youth organized a bicycle safety workshop for other you th/families in their community. They were in charge of not only do ing the project and learning about the safety thing, but We partnere d with the and got kely going to do i t yourself... They actually got out there and showed other kids how to do something. Make it safer, you know. And in turn, helped them apply those safe ty rules when they were biking. The concrete experience of conducti ng the workshop was evident. Marta felt that those youth who taught the workshop were likely to apply what they learned when riding their own bikes . What was not clear was where or how reflection was a part of the learning experience. Marta also described that there was more to experiential lea rning than just the applying that learning t o the next experience. She used the following example of a robotics activity where youth were working as a group to figure o ut how to make a catapult work.
175 So I was just watching them think and watching them put together And I think that is so mu ead this and it will show you how to do it them do it hands on, seeing how it faile d, how they can make it better. So that is wha t experiential learning is to me, just getting out there and letting them do it and failing to see what they c an do better. Describing Club Structure Marta met with her project leaders before the 4 H year started in order to determine who would work with what age group. As a group they went over different ideas and thoughts and discussed such topics as the project and record books. Club meeting structure . Club meetings during the year began around 6:30 pm. Since a number of youth came late, the club had recreation time first or a small project to do for those that arrived on time. The business meeting started at 6 :45 pm and lasted about 15 minutes. During the business meeting, the officers sat upfront and ran the club members were taught the very b asics of parliamentary procedure . taste of it, as they get older , The club had a president, secretary, and committees. The president called it to order, everyone stood and said pledges, roll was called, the secretary read t he minutes of the last meeting, and committees gave their reports . Those youth on the county council gave reports on whate ver was happening there. The club president followed an meetings, the group sometimes discussed community se rvice ideas and guest speakers. ewpoint on these. She felt hearing the voice an d opinions of club members was important. After this part the meeting was done, it was turne d over to Marta for any annou ncements b ecause everyone could hear her
176 more easily. She provided dates for upcoming activities/club events so parents would know what was going on with th e club and in the 4 H community. After the business meeting ended, the youth split into the four age groups and worked in their project areas for 45 minutes. The Cloverbuds were in their own group and did a variety of different things, not necessarily one project. The project leaders then worke d with their respective group. E ach group had around 45 minutes to do an activity and any paperwork that went with it. This strategy seemed to work well for the They really like the idea that we have them separated int o groups, but der ones help the younger ones if they need to. Youth were able to work on one project for a one meeting then cou ld switch to another project the next meeting. At the end of each meeting they had a snack time. Marta then gave out any information to parent s as they were leaving with their children. Marta encouraged her youth to follow the 4 H Standards of Excellence . This helped youth plan their goals for the year in the project along with leadership and citizenship, especially the older ones. Marta indicat ed that not all leaders knew about these guidelines for achievement . Project structure . Youth chose projects they were interested in, whether it was something new to them or a topic they already knew about. Youth usually received their project books at the beginning of the year. However, youth were able to get another project book at any time during the year if they were interested in a second project. Most projects were done as a group in her club. However, some youth did their own individual projects , suc h as animal science. Youth worked with steers, swine, and
177 smaller animals such as chickens and rabbits. Another young girl was working o n her own photography project. Some youth did more than one project at one time. The length of the project involvement v aried. Some youth only did a project for one year, decided they had enough and switched to a differe nt project the following year. Some projects were multi year projects based on interest. Examples were sportfishing and animal science projects. They might keep the same book or series for three or four years. Project books as guides. Marta stated that project books were important club resources and provided guidelines for doing projects. Her leaders relied on then as a credible source of information about th e project. For example, if youth had a question about showmanship in the ring, she would refer them to the livestock project books and ask them Completing projects. usually do every activity lis ted in a project book , but a select numb er. Their county guidelines recommended six activities from each book. Sometimes a paper with additional directions or questions was developed to supple ment an activity from the book. Some 4 H projects had multiple b ooks and levels involved, such as those materials coming from the National 4 H online store. Instead of moving through each level, Marta selected activities from across all ple of this strategy. ) one of the four in the sport fishin g At the end of the club year the pr oject books were expected to be c ompleted and turned in along with a complet e a project report . Marta encouraged the club youth to do
178 this. Marta indicated guidelines were given at th e county level. These helped youth understand what to include in their project story and gave some guidance on its length. Time was usually set aside in the last few meetings of the year to work on the project/record books. As part of their project record and report, youth wrote their personal project story . This story not only described the project(s) they did that year, but their community ser vice an d leadership activities. Marta felt that doing project books gave youth a back and think hat they helped youth reflect on their project s because of the questions they included. If necessary, Marta would make up a supplemental paper with reflective questions for that part of project book and/or activity. She had a calendar with dates of different activities and events they did to help them remember. Describing Club Experiences Marta was asked various questions related to how she vie wed youth as learning through different club experie nces. Marta shared experiences related to projects, community service, and leadership. In her stories and des criptions, the researcher look ed for possible components and processes involved in experiential learning. Project e xperiences Marta believed youth were learning through the different hands on activities they did as part of the projects they worked on . She described how learning might occur . Ment oring. Marta especially encouraged older youth to mentor younger ones on a project. This often happened naturally, especially with the livestock projects. Marta saw these relationships as beneficial for both.
179 The livestock project is a big one on that beca use they can until they are eight . So you know so metimes when they are eight or nine years old they maybe have never had any experience with this so an older 4 H that has is able to tell them everything they know to he lp them get this projec I think that not only gives the older one confidence, you So I think it is a win win thing when you have them all togeth er like tha t, working together. Thus, older youth applied what they had learned in a project as they gained skills and confidence through teaching. The younger ones were influenced by older youth who . Reflection through social interac tions . When Marta was asked about reflection opportunities in project related events, she described that there was sometimes a group sharing time after an event, such as a livestock judging event. Youth would talk with each other about what happened with t he judges and share d their stories. These social interactions were often viewed as opportunities for youth to share their experiences and stories with each other. role in this process was not clear. Reflection through project books and reports. At the end of the year, the club worked on their project reports with their group leader. This provid ed them with an opportunity to reflect back on the year and what they did and learned. To help them remember, nstormed the different activities they did . When we get down to the end of the year, it is hard to go back and remembe and and maybe for the whole ye And people remember things, whereas I might have forgotten about th that helps me to see... they really did have a good time.
180 Somet imes youth did not realize was helpful in getting them to think back on their experiences in order to answer the questions in their project reports. the proj ect. It comes down to whenever they have to do that final record book to look back Oh yeah! We did this, we did that; we learned Marta felt there was value in waiting to reflect until the end of the year versus after each talking about an experience right after it happened might not give enough time for the child to think ab out it, whereas a month later they may have had time to think it over and co uld write down their thoughts. Even though club youth complained about writing in the project books at the end of the year and doing their project records, Marta felt that doing the record books helped them be more organized in their own personal lives. Bu t at the end of the year when their project record was complete, there was a se nse of accomplishment. all finished up , they got their award for it. acc omplished something. And that makes them feel excited about getting it done . Appl ying learning in multiyear projects. Marta stated that helping youth apply their learning was not always easy. Club meetings were not long and doing a business meeting and a h ands on activity related to a pro ject took the majority of time. However, she felt that the application of learning was more likely to happen at a later time in a project. For example, if youth continued in the same project the following year, as in multi year projects, they went into more depth and learned new things about the project topic . Marta described youth as being able to build on their learning from on e year to the
181 next year in the same project or a related one . Marta felt this was especially tr ue for the youth involved in livestock projects. They start out maybe with a smaller animal, like a rabbit or a chicken, and then they learn the little bit of responsibility they have with that, and then they may decide to do a swine project, which is a little bit harder, a l ittle more time consuming, a little more money involved. And if they get that, maybe for several years, some of them decide to go onto a more expensive, more time consuming project like the market steer. As youth advanced in projects, they learned more and got deeper into the subject area . As youth moved into more advanced levels they even had the possibility of administering medications with a shot to the animal So it is kind of a step by step Marta felt growth in a child occurred becaus e they applied what they learned to something else related to project. Marta described that some youth went even farther and learned things on their own. That is, they took their own initiative to learn more than wh at the initial project offered. Applying learning from mistakes. Marta also described a story where a club member learned a hard lesson about being responsible. The young lady was involved in the swine project and had a hog she had to raise and take to market. However, the first year she did not take the time to take care of the animal and depended on others to take care of the hog for her. As a result the animal did not do well at weigh in at the fair. It was a hard lesson for her to learn. She lost money , she lost the project itself. But one of the requirements is you have to finish that project s a loss, As a result of what she learned from her experience, she changed the way she handled her project t he following year and took care of the animal. And she put more effort into the things that she had failed in the year
182 a ll those things that she learned and she had, I believed she got reserved champion with her hog but I know he was the heaviest in the thing. Because she took what she failed in last year and learned learning that lesson, she applied it to the next had a very good project for that year . Because of her initial failure, her sense of accomplishment was greater the next year the livestock project, Marta felt this same process was at work in other projects, where youth learned from a mistake made and applied the learning the next time. Applying learning at home. Learning was also applied at home, with family, or during family outings. In one project youth were taught about ou tdoor cooking. These youth went camping with their family and used their new cooking skills during the trip. Youth later came to the club and talked about what they did. Applying learning in future. Marta also expressed that appl ying something learned was more likely to happen after youth left 4 H, perhaps in their career. But she fruition. I think some of the exp eriential learning we may never see but if we plant that seed in there, and they learn how to follow that order, then I think that they will be able to use this. understanding of differ ent career opportunities. Some o f the 4 H youth she had went into careers related to what they did in 4 H . She felt they may have applied things they had learned in 4 H in their career. Some went to work in veterinary clinics because they worked with anima ls in 4 H . Her own daughter enjoyed the babysitting project books she did in 4 H and worked for a pediatrician. Sometimes 4 H alumni from her club returned and told her how 4 H helped them in life and in their careers.
183 I have seen several examples where th from 4 H, and it has helped them later on in life, af 4 H. things that the y learn in 4 H maybe help them and maybe sparked an intere st Experiences giving talks and demonstrations Al t hough club youth were not required to do a demonstration talk, Marta encouraged youth to do so at club and county levels. She created opportunities at the club level where youth c ould speak in front of people, yet not realize they were d oing so. For example, when she called the roll at club meetings she had youth stand and say their name then say something about their favorite color or animal. At the county level, there were opport unities for youth to talk to others about their projects. Not all of these opportunities were competitive. One experience, called Ag Adventures was h were there with their animals. And there wer e like about 600 elementary aged kids that came thro Well, all the livestock kids were there on that day and they would be with their animals, and they would not only talk about their animals, but they would go around and describe the posters that they had made and tell about what that stuff was. For youth that were shy, team demonstrations were suggested. This gave the shy ones more confidence to get up and speak. Marta helped prepare youth for their demonstrations and provided advice or ideas but knew youth had to do most of the work and figure things out for themselves. Reflecting and sharing. At the end of the year, Marta wanted each club member to stand and tell the rest of the club some major things they learned that year and perhaps show something they had completed as part of the project. Speaking in
184 front of a group was not always easy but Marta described that encouragement was important and helpful for youth to hear. Taking criticism was not easy for most youth, but Marta wanted to help youth learn from their mist akes. Sometimes after youth did a talk or demonstration at the county level Marta tried to go back over it with them, especially if they did not do as well as they had hoped . And they may one year go to county events and completely fail at it. Not necessar ily fail, but What do you t She provided suggestions to help them rethink their talks and how they cou ld change something to make the talks better the next time. I try to teach them that, you know, taking criticism is part of uld take it into Would it have made your demonstra tion better if you had And then helping them learn from those things to make their projects or demonstrations better for the next time that they did it. Applying learning. Marta knew speaking sk ills were important a nd were a part of life. Although youth at times complained about having to speak in front of people, Marta felt what they learned would be applied later and benefit them in life. Som o d on one, and then how you present yourself. Marta described how this affected her own daughters in coll ege. Their professor was s urprised at the confidence the daughters had in speaking in front of the class . They told the professor it was becau se they had been in 4 H and had done demonstrations in front of people.
185 Community s ervice experiences was involved in at least two or three community service projects throughout the year. Since they wer e a large club, they usually did the associated activities toiletries and othe r items. These were taken to the shelter. They also collected food and toys for needy families. Marta felt community service in her club was a differen t learning experience than what was typically done in the public schools. I think just learning the citiz much anymore. With kids, I mean with high school kids they go out and do community service, but are they really learning anything from it?...But we have had (club) kids collect the can goods and they take them to the shelter and they actually see that there are people there that really need our help. Although leaders often came up with ideas for community service, club members did too. The club had a community service committee composed of teenage girls. These girls planned out different community service activities they could do during the year. All youth were encouraged to participate in community service activities. For those th at wanted to achieve the 4 they also had to help plan and arrange these activities for the club if they wanted to achieve a certain level. Marta noted that the type of community service affected different ages in different ways. In one community service, toys were collected for less fortunate youth. Younger youth seemed to learn a different lesson than the older ones. think with all the ages because collecting they want those toys because a learning e xperience, realize that there are other with the different ones [experiences] tha n there are with the older kids, b ecau se older ones know that already.
186 Marta emphasized that just feeling appreciated after doing community service was a learning experience in itself for youth. Her youth had made cookies and took them to the fire department, police department, and ambulance s tations. Although the youth may not have known or understood the kind of work these people did, Marta felt Reflection. Providing an opportunity for youth to talk about what happened in a com according to Marta. Yet, reflection might have happened at a later club meeting. She pointed out that after clean up, families pretty much went their own way. Sometimes they di d talk about it at the next meeting. Another potential opportunity for reflection might have taken place when youth wrote about their community service experiences in their project r ecord/report and project story. T hat is a very important thing that goes i nto their record books to show out, they put down what they did and why they did it. Application. Marta felt youth could apply j ust about anything the y learned from one community service to another community service . could go into the project the next year when youth expanded on the original idea. Marta felt youth learned generosity through the community service projects. T hrough the group projects they learned how to work together. This generosity was applied in other areas of the club. I think in a way that kind of brings out generosity towards each other. Whether they have to help them or share something.
187 Leadership and civic engagement e xperiences 4 H. This included involvement in county and district 4 H councils and the 4 H youth executive board at the state level. During club meetings, th ose on the county council would stand in front of the club and report on what was happeni ng at the county level in 4 H. Marta felt the involvement of youth in multiple leadership and civic engagement opportunities helped them learn i mportant organizational skills. council, and executive board. She is probably one of the most organized teenagers I have ever seen, because she has got to be if she wants to keep up with everything goi ng on! She has to stay very organized on what she is doing and plan her events and things around what she has go t going on with her 4 H events. As a club, youth attended ship vic engagement and leadership learning opportunities. Marta indicated that youth learned a lot by participating in these events. She felt their learning experience s were influenced by t he fact that youth were in a place where none of them had been before. As a group they were dependent on each other. These experiences were then shared with other youth in the c lub when they returned. This created excitement in others who then wanted to go the following year. The next year, we had several more that wanted to go and then the following year...So, when they bring it back and they show wh at they saw, and a lot of these kids had never been there before in their life, and it was just such a neat experience for them. For each project they did, youth also were expected to have a leadership experience in their project area. This was especially true for older club youth. For Marta, the challenge was to find a leadership experience that all had the opportunity to do. Leadership seemed easier to incorpora te into group projects. For individual projects it
188 was a little harder to do. Encouraging youth to teach or mentor o thers was viewed as a way to do leadership in a project area, especially for the older youth. Youth in livestock projects often accomplished their leadership component by teaching others about showmanship in the ring at a county livestock show. They held showmanship workshops. Youth who had shown an animal would teach that part of the show manship workshop to other 4 H members . Although Marta h ad to help them organize the workshop, the youth set everything up and did the teaching. Each youth had something to share with people that came to the workshop . And we did that with each group; we had the rabbits, and the chickens, and the steer and the p igs. And so they really, they did the workshop. T hey even came up with the idea of bringing a big ball and the cane to show how to kind of, y that was really one of those times that they kind of just took over and did it, yeah. They di dership opportunity. Challenges to the Learning Process When Marta looked for ideas and activities for her club, she wanted to find something meaningful and of interest for everyone in the clu b. However, a ddress ing different skill levels across the groups was a challenge. Selecting and doing educational activities with groups comprised of different ages and schooling platforms was also a challenge. Because of this, for any project they did, the outcomes of the ex perience and the engagement level were l ikely different for each youth. the same group, you have homeschoolers, you have some that are in public school They may have different learning techniques, different I think the challenge is trying t interesting to everybody. Another challeng e Marta described was getting youth to complete their project books and report s. They often complained about having to do them, but felt a sense of
189 meetings or after activiti es or events was another concern for her. Reflections on the Interview s , Experiential Learning , and Training Marta told a story about her own growth as a leader. She once did a survey with the club and looked over the responses afterwards. The answers to t he survey opened her eyes up and how, as a leader, she might have influence d how children viewed the club. I had this teenage girl. She was kind of stand offish or alone or whatever. a nd saw he I wish p eo I was all vey, it m W ell what could I have done to make her feel more welcome and maybe I could have definite ly for the adults too. Marta realized that having time to reflect on her own club practices and role as a growth. Marta felt the leaders meetings provided a valuable venue for some more hands on training for leaders, eve n if only every other month. But she also expressed the desire to have more time at the leader meetings to talk and share things with each leader and as a whole group. handled some of from me with a big group hat me to sit with other l eaders and ask them questions ow did you do You know, and getting that experience from other leaders is very helpful. Marta had attended the Southern Region Volunteer Forum at the Rock Eagle 4 H Training Center in Georgia. She learned a lot as a leader and brought these ideas back
190 to her club. But it was far away and expensive to get there. She wanted to see more training for her and ot her leaders in the county that was similar to what she had at Rock Eagle, yet closer to her county. Because when you wer e there with the group and you learned a skill you ly take the time off. And I really wish there were more of tho se types of things maybe. Marta enjoyed attending training as long as they were helpful and meaningful. If district trainings were held she hoped leaders would have an opportunity to get togethe r and share what worked and what d that training should be hands do he importance of using this hands on approach with leaders was further described. you could talk to me or show me a PowerPoint and I might catch it, and I might not. But if we actually sat down and made a rocket, you know, and th en looked at what we did wrong or w hat we did. I think even for leaders. She further emphasized the importance of learning about experiential lear ning by following the sam e steps youth would go through. She described an example of a workshop she attended at th e Southern Region Volunteer Forum. We actually did what the kids do; we had a project paper that we did, where we had to reflect on what we did. And then we brought it back (to the club) and applied it. So, I think a lot of times, leaders need that hands o n experiential learning too, just like the kids. And when we do it, I think it shows us more how it should be done. At the end of the interview, M arta shared that the experience of being interviewed helped h er understand the model better.
191 Well, even just doing this interview with you, I understand it more now been doing a lot of the stuff, just not even thinking that it was the basic the steps are. Club Leader 4 Anna Introducing Anna and Her Club Anna was both the organizational leader and pr oject leader for her club. She considered her club to be both a community club and a project club. She had been a club leader for five years . Th e club also had been in existence for five years. She felt n ew clubs needed about two and a half years to get going , and hers was finally taking off. She indicated the number of youth in her club grew every year. She had 28 youth currently on the club rost er. Many of these were Cloverbuds, the younge st members of 4 H. Most club youth were homeschooled , but some attend ed public schools. Club youth were involved in projects related to survival and outdoor skills, camping, hiking, fishing, first aid, and astro nomy. Youth were also involved in community service, citizenship and leadership, and public speakin g. She described her club as a non competitive club except for doing an annual contest in 4 H called Consumer Choice Judging, where youth were required to us e critical think ing and decision making skills in their selection of consumer based products. The cl ub was in a rural area and met once a month for about two to three hours. The leader had a home on a number of acres , so meetings were held there. Anna was the primary leader , but if needed , her mother stepped in as the assistant leader . Other parents also stepped in to help with club activities, as needed. Table 4 1 provides an overview of Anna and her club.
192 Becoming a Leader Anna, her husband, and their fam ilies, grew up in 4 H . Anna had j oined 4 H when she was eight years old . Since most girls in 4 H at the time did sewing, she worked on first shy in 4 H but got very involved in publi c speaking and demonstrations. These skills were later very useful for her . Near the end of her sophomore year, Anna decided to leave 4 H behind and focus on ROTC. She planned to go into the army, but instead worked to help her husband through school. Then her twins came , and they were diagnosed with a rare disease. As a result, Anna has worked to help raise public awareness about the disease and has worked with other organizations on this effort . She credited 4 H in providing her with these public speaking skills. Anna did not care for the public school system and homeschooled her own children. S he wanted her own childr en to have the same experience wit h 4 H that she had as a child. S he described that o ne day, s he and another parent went to the county extension office to enroll their children , but were told most of the clubs were already closed or ful l. After talking with the other parent , they decided to start their own club together. Anna was really interested in the outdoors , and the othe r leader was interested in nutrition. So that became their initial project focus. The cl ub seemed to really enjoy doing hiking and fishing projects. T hey also went camping . Youth shared their experiences with other y outh and t he club grew.
193 Previous Education and Training The meetings typi cally focused on a subject, such as dealing with parents , working with youth, and program rules and guidelines. These meetings often included some type of training for them o we have constant training She felt these meetings were helpful and did more than just educate them. These meetings provided time for leaders to reflect or talk with other leaders on such questions as , can you improve? What ideas She fel t a ttending these meetings were important because she was able to talk with other leaders. She wanted to know how other leaders dealt with certain issues. Anna also stated that leadership classes were given at the county level but indicated the classes covere d mate rial she already knew or had covered in the past. She also did online training as a volunteer at the state level. Anna was familiar with the experiential learning model. Her county agent had gone through the process with the leaders and usually did s omething on the model on a regular basis with lea ders. She remembered sharing, and how to apply stu Overall, Anna felt her county agent provided very helpful information in these trainings . Anna described a part icular training offered by her 4 H agent which she felt involved learning about the exper iential learning model. She g like an activity that our club was going to do. And then we had to plan it out, you know? I guess apply the goal...So, I guess it w as somewhat similar to this, because we had to show, you know, what we were applying or what goal they were using. What was the process we were going to do for them to achieve that goal, you know?
194 Anna had also taken psychology classes in college and felt this information was helpful in her work with youth. She learned a lot by just searching on the web for information about education principles . Her Role as Club Leader youth as bei rules and decided to put forth her own personality into the process. going to have to put my personality in this and put it down cause we have some structure and discipline. B kids out somewhere or have more of these fun g oing to fall in line and listen. Through her own experiences with the club, Anna learned the importance of balancing paperwork with activities. The first couple years of the nutr ition project illustrated this. When we started it was more book work but abou t the s econd year, the We gotta learn more nutrition? d starches nd we hear it here and da da da. ..! Anna then realized that getting the input of youth about what and how they wanted to learn was important. Youth then started telling Anna all the things they wanted to learn. This changed the way she approach ed handling the club. She learned that c ollaboration with cl ub members was important . She then alwa ys included youth by getting their ideas and thoughts about club meetings and activities, especially the officers. She felt that getting the opinions of even her Cloverbuds and Juniors were important.
195 Anna instructed all the activities and saw herself as t She described her role as a leader in the club this way. eacher ! meeting. I mean, it takes time. As a leader, you want to lead, you want to teach. At the s ame time, she felt leaders should not be authoritarian s, but should focus on helping youth be leaders. I really want to make leaders of tomorrow. So I really want to teach them all the skills that they need to leaders, you guide th em in that direction, especially with the older kids, you know? She emphasized the impor tance of giving youth leadership roles in the club . She saw these leadership opportunities as a way for youth to learn mor e independence. For example, t o help prepare youth for a real camping trip, Anna did a series of demonstrations at a club meeting on thing s they needed to know , such as setting up a tent, collecting wood, and building a fire. Hiking was also presented as a series of demonstrations. She of ten had the more experienced older youth who had hiked before, perform demonstrations on what items should go in the hiking bag and what members left out. So I guide them in that wa Anna saw herself as a disciplinarian. Sh e expected respect and for children to behave. She felt that if you gave youth guidelines or a set of rules, they needed to follow them. If they did, then they were more likely to have a good time. Anna tried to be a little stern , but at the same time caring. Anna did not view herself as an authoritarian . Instead However, d uring campouts, if a problem arose , Anna would step in and try to redirect the situation. Sometimes youth got frustrated with each other and Anna step ped in to stop an argument and remind
196 them Anna also made sure that for anything they did outdoors, especially camping, she always brought extra supplies in case youth forgot something. She had to pay attention to details , because of the types of outdoor experiences involved , such as fishing, camping, and hiking. Prior to a hike she would check their bags for the items they were expected to bring. step in with that way , too have a compass, then I provide the compass, you know? Uh , have the bug spray, or the whatever? So I always make sure I have extra stuff , and then I always check their bags before we go on a hi ke. That on the same page. So I guess I could teach and guide that way. She also gave youth the responsibility of checking hiking bags before a hike, keeping lists of things needed, and be ing de signated as hiking guides. She encouraged them to be the leader because she knew they were going to be the next leaders. Anna did her best to keep the youth organized in teams during hikes. She established rules before going on hikes. She kept a parent at the front and a parent at the back. She kept eyes on them and made sur e they followed whatever plan they had for the trip. If a youth and pulled the youth aside, away from the group and talk w ith him or her. I going to cha nge or go, then I usually have enough parents that one will take him back and we have a safety spot. We always have a safety spot. And they go and they sit there until we come b ack. And do that once or then the ne
197 Anna also viewed herself as an overseer and guided youth as they worked together on outdoor activities. She saw the value in teamwork and encouraged youth to work together. My biggest thing that I talk to them about is that you have to work as a team. So if you have any differences, you need to sit down and democratically work that out. You need to accomplish your goal... m. And guide them, and you know, trouble. Involving Parents and Other A dults Club parents were not typically in charge of projects. However, Anna viewed them as helpers in club activities. She enlisted the help of two or three parents. These parents went with each group. She talked to th ese parents before the meeting so th sid This gave her a chance to move around and see each group during their activity time. Some parents who came to club meetings enjoyed mingling with other parents. Anna gave non help ing pa rents projects to work on, which kept the parents occupied during club meetings. This way parents felt like they were able to watch their children and still be involved in the club. Anna expressed this separation between parent and child fostered mor e independence from their parents and allowed older youth to lead the younger ones better. However , some parents who stayed at the meetin at times and interfere with their child. She expressed that these parents needed to step back and le t the ir child grow. She felt this was more of a concer n with homeschool educators perhaps because they had a harder time letting go of the role of teacher and let their kids use their imagination and do stuff
19 8 Anna expected parents to come to campout s with their child and stay in the tents with them. Some parents expressed their own ex citement with the club projects . This was often because the parents used to hike or camp when they were younger and now they were able to do this again with their own ch ildren. According to Anna, youth whose parents were more involved in 4 H activities, were more likely to complete and turn in a proje ct book at the end of the year. Fortunately, more parents were involve d in her club than uninvolved. Beliefs on Learning in the 4 H Club Anna believed experiential learning was involved in all the projects and events her club youth were involved in, inclu ding community service projects. During the interview s , Anna s hared some of her beliefs about learning in her club and some of the approaches she used in club activities . Influence of social context . Anna described that the social context of the club provided a way for youth to share and talk about their experiences whenever they got together. This built stronger relationships within and even outside the club. Anna felt her club offered youth a sense of camaraderie give respect, you receive respect. I re She expected youth to follow the rules so that activities could be completed in the time frame allowed . She also felt the social context of the club enhance d learning experience s and helped youth re tain more of what they learned. W hen you throw in that you have their friends as teammates and then that going to sit down and just study.
199 Have older mentor younger. An na often had older youth mentor younger ones . O lder ones served as role models, especially the ones in club leadership roles . When you team them up , and you have a good group of older kids that are le a then the younger kids look up t al Use h ands on experiences . As a homeschool educator, Anna loved how 4 H offered youth plenty of hands on experiences. Anna believed in the benefits of using an expe k hands on le arning, they adapt to it more. Anna believed youth enjoyed it more because they were moving and using their hands . Then they got excited about the projec t or a ctivity , because it was hands on. This made their imagination work at the same time , which gave rise to new ideas, their own ideas. The boys were interested in solar power, right? Ok, we had the books, we went out and we built The hands on learning tion She viewed 4 H as offering youth new types of hands on lea rnin g opportunities. S he described how 4 H was now the fact that 4 H is doing that is encouraging kids to get more active in it Be o pen to discussion or reflection at any time . Anna wanted youth to kn ow they could come and talk with her anytime about what they were thinking. She felt t heir thoughts did not come fixed in a time frame. Thus, setting aside a specific time for reflection for the club and having that be the only point in time when it happen ed might She wanted to keep opportunities for discussion and reflection more open for the club. If you set limits on the sharing process, or make it a time constraint, then ot set in time.
200 Listen to the voice of youth . F or Anna choosing an activity for the club was dependent on many factors. For her getting the opinions and ideas from club officers w as important. She would ask club youth such questions as need to do? Where were they in the project book? Did She needed to choose something that all were able to and would want to do. She wanted activities to be hand on and age appropriate. Getting their thoughts helped her make these types of decisions. Anna really wanted children to have the freedom to us e their own imagination in club activities and programs. of something , a zed that many youth returned to her club each year because they liked the independence that came with learning things on their own. She felt they liked using their imagination for what eve r she gave them to do. Describing Experiential Learning Learn by doi ng . Anna described as involving more than just doing something. Ann because that was what they always did as a club. She shared a story about her club and how they learned to build a fire through a series of actions. The experience illustrated the engagement of t he whole l earner in the process. hey have that like a ha moment, when the fire finally ignites with the wood. And t heir faces just, oh , my gosh! T they learned in about two lessons, you know? Especially when we do the real easy in Hollywood to rub two sticks together to not easy. So they practice, and they practice.
201 Concrete experience . Anna described a concrete experience as a hands on experience that involved practicing skill s. She often had youth practice what they needed to do before going out into nature. She gave an example of a concrete experience where teams of youth built a rain shelter out of natural materi als during an T hey came up with a lot of ide as by putting the poncho a s a tent, but then putting the p almetto leaves on top as extra protection. Reflection . Anna believed that if youth had opportunities to share and talk about and do something with what they learned, even beyond 4 H. However, b ecause she had so many youth in the club organizing a time to reflect on specific activities or experiences with them as individuals or even as a group was difficult. However, Anna felt r e flection was as part of the group sharing process that oc curred at various times during club meetings or during the year . Anna described her club youth as very social and talked to each other a lot during meetings. She felt this was a way for them to refle ct on their activities . These o pportunities for youth to talk and share things with each other often took place at the end of club meetings . As club they also did some brainstorming about o expand on it. This was because youth were often together in the different venues. Anna did not see reflection as something that happened at a specific time in an experience, but at any time. Anna wanted youth to have the freedom to come to her and talk a bout something anytime. Circle of reflection. Anna felt there was a among the members. lection within the 4 H However, this circle of reflection was not necessarily a g uided or facilitated
202 reflection by an adult leader but instead happened through more casual conversation. Anna also felt that youth shared their experiences and what they did in 4 H with others outside the club. She knew certain families in the club were a lways talking and sharing their experiences with each other. Reflection with different ages . She stressed that the term reflection was fine to use with older youth when they talked over something the club did, but Anna story ti me reflection, and even the term, had to be different for the different ages and levels. A younger child in her club did not process reflection the same as an older child. Application . Anna felt the application of l earning was easy once meeting s w ere planned and the activities identified. Anna knew youth applied new skills to something else they were learning. But she might not have realized this application of learning occu rred until she had a chance to reflect back on the situation . S ometimes as a leader, you could sit there all day and plan the activity and plan the learning and the doing , right? But not see how they apply it, or use it When youth applied something they learned, An na felt the change of dramatic because it builds up their confidence in themselves and then it builds up the Experiential learning. Anna described experiential learning as a proc ess that experiences that she herself may have had. They look to you for that kind of guidance. And the n you become like a mentor. And then your experiences not like it i nfluences them, but they Because that would be experiential learning to
203 When asked if she could describe the different phases of the model, Anna had difficulty with remembering the terms used for each phase. A fter thinking, she explained the phases of experiential learning this w ay. Well I g you w y them, and have them brought to you ahead of time maybe. Anna then tried to describe how experiential learning might occur in a club meeting. Although not a textbook description, she used terminology associated with the model. in reflection , ut it. Describing Club Structure even ing once or sometimes twice a month. Club planning b egan in August when they held their first club meeting and oriented new parents . An na presented the club goals, shared the calendar for the year , and went over what the expe ctations were for club members. At this first meeting club o fficers were elected. The following meetings were then, for the most part, planned and led by the club officers. At each meeting they typically held a bus iness meeting first , which lasted about 15 minutes . The president opened meetings wi th the pledges. The club followed Robert s Rules of Order an d covered old and new business. They also had secretary, trea surer, and committee reports. After the business me eting, youth worked on activities related to project areas. Anna broke dividing the club into smaller teams worked better when they did activitie s, especially at
204 the campouts. The major ity of youth in her club were very young. Since she only had four seniors, she placed a senior on each team. Each team was expected to work out any problems within their respective group. on projects related to fishing, hiking, camping, and first aid. Anna had found these topics as the ones in which youth were really interested in. Anna contained lesson plans useful in planning club ac tivities. The project books tied in the different activities the club did, such as campouts. Club youth recorded what they did in their project books. Youth sometimes worked on these books during the club meetings. The club usually had two activities going on dur ing a meeting, split between two pairs of teams. At least one activity focused on an outdoor project, while t he other focused on first aid. Each activity lasted about 30 minutes. The groups then flipped and did the other activity. This format was followed throughout the year. Anna expected club youth to compete in at least one county event for the year. These county events typically involved doing a demo nstration and/or illustrated talk in front of others. She encouraged Intermediates and Seniors to do more of these so th at they could get more out of these types of experiences. Another competitive event she encouraged youth to part icipate in was Consumer Choice Judging . A number of her club youth really enjoyed doing this contest. Although the club did three community serv ice projects each year, you th were only expected to be involved in two. Describing Club Experiences Anna was asked questions related to how she vie wed youth as learning through different club exper iences. She shared her club experiences related to projects , community service, civic en stories and
205 descriptions, the researcher looked for possible compo nents and processes involved in the experiential learning model . Meeting experiences Anna felt the structure and social conte xt of club meetings helped youth learn. Robert f Order was taught through 4 meetings. Although she felt her club did not follow the protocol as strictly as other clubs in her county did , it still helped keep the club organized and encouraged leadership. Now in my club, we are not as strict with it, but we definitely use it as a business, new business, and you make sure you have your secret ary's that encourages a lot of leadership and public speaking, too. Project e xperiences Club meetings usually involved youth in a skill building activity related to a project out getting stuff for the fire the t Anna typically demonstrated something f irst, such as putting up a tent or how to use a compass. Afterwards, youth broke off into th eir groups to do the same th ing. Anna felt her club youth became more independent in their thinking because of the way the club mee tings and projects were set up. She described a project experience that engaged youth, not just phys ically, but also their imagination and creativity. Their little minds, go o ut there and you may discuss a p almetto leaf as a good way to protect yoursel und and they come up wit It makes their imagination work a little m then th make it wo rk for whatever that team needs. Anna described another situation where youth used their imagination and came up with their own id eas on how to build a tent a s part of a project experience.
206 Instead of just coming up with y an use Anna described that w hen youth were able to do things on their own and guide their own learning, they gained a real sense of accomplishment. Anna illustrated this in a story describing the learning of outdoor ski lls. they did it on the ir own, and they planned it, and you just gave them the skills and tools. T accomplishment that they did, without you holding their hand. One thing that surprised Anna was that younger club members were engaged in project activities she had thought were too advanced for them. After teaching the club how to use a compass, she handed some compasses to the youngest members. She descr ibed their reactions like this. W e have five and six year olds that enjoyed learning about the compass. And then we did a compass course in the bac k three acres, and they were thei And the little ones all teamed up togeth er and that was like the cutest thing. They were like so enthralled with this litt le compass and how it can work! Influence of teamwork. Anna viewed meetings and project experiences as being framed in a social context because her club always did things in teams. She working in teams on a project built leadership skills because every team needed a leader. Anna indicated that the support of a team often provided more one on one
207 attention, especially for those youth that really needed it, and often provided youth with more confidence to then do things on their own. They like the teamwork that the ones that really need that that activity And then they like it and then it goes is a big learning thing. Project mentoring. Anna often utilized older youth to be team leaders and had them mentor and/or teach younger youth about outdoor skills or other projects. The ids are emember what so and so told older youth needed help, but she really wanted older youth to learn leadershi p skills by having them help with project related demonstrations for the club. Reflection. Anna felt a time for reflection occurred during campouts. During a campout they had a bonfire at night. There each child had to stand up and talk about an experience they had at camp. Questions included What have you learned that you Reflection also was viewed as taking place during the meetings, at social gatherings, recreation t imes, or even in the car after a field trip. These were not necessarily facil itated by Anna or another adult, but again initiated more by the youth themselves. see them all Oh! You know, I did this t hi Oh! You know what we Oh! I to insti ub often had a little party where they showed a video of diff erent projects, activities, and events they did. Anna felt all these were opportunities where youth could reflect on or talk about their experiences .
208 Reflection in project reports and stories . Anna also felt project books and reports offered youth a way to look back and reflect on what they learned and put it in writing. Project reports involved answering reflective type questions but were more personal than project books. As part of the report, youth also had to write their own project story about what the y did and learned. Anna described the important role of project stories. I think the best thing of all the things the kids in my club like are these little things. They love these [project reports] because you have to add . They would rather do the project report you know. Application. Anna felt youth were able to build on or apply their project learning experiences over time. What they learned at the club meetings, they applied in their campouts. They learned camping skills, how to set up tents, how to build a fire, camp cooking techniques, and more. After they did the camping project, they went into the hiking project . Each time they built on wha t they learned . After they learned about hiking at a club meeting, they applied these skills when they went on a hiking trip. After that they did fishing the same way. They also learned how to use a compass at a meeting, and practiced using it on a hiking trip. Anna also introduced them to astronomy during a couple club meetings. At first she felt the youth might be too young for it. Anna had printed pictures of different constellations and stars and went over them at the meeting. She showed youth how to us e the telescope and what to look for in the sky. Then they did a night hike. Anna was then surprised at what youth remembered and described the excitement generated as they looked up at the night sky.
209 he half mile from th e beginning, and the n we got to the open pasture... all of they took the picture and the skills that they learned t it opened their minds. And erally like little bunnies jumping up and down! Anna then had youth lie down in a ci rcle and look up at the stars. She placed her seniors on both sides of her and listene d to what came next as they all lai d on the ground on their backs. picking out that conste I th is imagination, this uh theory of like ean it was all age groups. Anna described how the younger ones were asking the older ones about the different constellations and what they were called. The o lder ones had been involved i n the project longer so tried to answer questions based on what they knew. Anna felt g r oup learning was evident. Anna considered this was one of her favorite experiences because of all the questions that the experience generate d in youth. application of learning because club youth had taken what they had learned from the astronomy project book and applied this information during the trip. Mentoring as applying learning . Anna also viewed mentoring as a way for a youth to apply their skills. For example, the more experienced youth applied what they
210 knew about fishing skills by teaching less experienced youth some of these ski lls. Again this seemed to happen during club meetings and during actual campo uts and h ikes . Role of family in project learning experiences. Anna felt that youth whose parents were more involved with their project got more out of the proj ect. The youth whose families/parents looked over and actually helped youth with the project books acted more excited about the project. They came back to the club meetings and were excited to share what they did at home with Anna and the club. Anna furthe r described the important role parents played in project learning. Youth might engage in an activity and not get what the activity was all about. However, when they got home and their parents got involved, something clicked where they understood what it wa s all about. You know, we sit there and we plan the activity kind of off the book, right? they and the ir parents are guiding them on that, then it, something from their parent, or the kid wi ll tell me next time I see them. Dads played a special role in the projects when they were involv ed, especially in fishing. Anna noticed that a child enjoyed fishing more when their dad was with them, on on The types of pro parents of club youth as well. This encouraged parents to be more involved. Perhaps these parents enjoyed these same activities when they were younger, but then Now that their own children were learning these skills they were reflecting back on their own experiences as a younger person . This, in turn,
211 influenced the types of additional learning experiences youth had with their own families, reinforcing wha t the c hild learned in the club. That is, the parents provided opportunities for their own children to apply skills they learned during family outings. I have this one family that every time the kids learn something at the meeting, the family turns around and tak es either that Saturday or skill in some type of activity which is really cool cause and to g row with them. They really tie in everything. On the other hand, Anna felt that some parents were not really involved in their one reason. When this happened, Anna held extra meetings to help those youth complete their project book. For these youth, Anna saw herself as perhaps the only person providing the structure and encouragement the youth needed. Experiences giving talks a nd demonstrations Anna did not consider her club a competitive club, but encouraged youth to speak in front of groups. Anna left the choice of doing or not doing a demonstration up to th e youth, but she encouraged youth to give a demonstration on a topic of high interest. She felt if youth liked the topic, they would feel more comfortable talki ng about it in front of people. During club meetings, Anna looked for simple ways to encourage youth to speak in front of others. For example, during roll call at club meetings, y outh were asked to stand up and t alk about something they recently learned about in 4 H or about the meeting topic that night . She emphasized that club youth supported each other through talk s and demonstrations and in any competitive events they were involved in . A number of club youth did demonstrations and talks at county events. Senior youth that
212 competed at county level and won would then go to district competitions. If they won first place at district they could then go to state. Moving beyond comfort zone . allowed everyone to have perhaps multiple opportunities to speak. After each p erson gave their little speech, club members expressed their support by applauding them. So by making them stand up and say their name and they have to give a one or two Anna felt that since everyone in the club did this at some point, it encouraged youth to their comfort e y do hem... H really t ies in Blending of experiential learning phases. Anna viewed talks and demonstrations as being not only con crete experiences but also opportunities for youth to share what they had learned with others. At the same time , Anna also described that youth applied what they learned through the act of giving illus trated talks or demonstrations. My little junior did that and talked about how they prepared for the campout, and what all consisted in I guess that would be The learned and yet at the same time be a way to apply what was learned, emerged as a pattern in the interview data. This idea has been further addressed in Chapter 5.
213 Competitive event experiences Consumer c hoices was a 4 H project that involved decision making and making purchases. It involved preparing for and entering a competitive event. Youth were presented with a set of scenarios, each with a set of possible choices. Youth were to choose the b est choice for that particular scenario. The contest was held at the county fair in the fall and later at the state level. The consumer cho ice project was popular in . Anna indicated her club youth were always given opportunities to make choices Not everyone in As a res ult, She described shelter building as an example of a possible scenario for the contest. a nything but a poncho. What are you goi Every year her y outh worked in teams to prepare for the event. Like projects, working in teams for competitive events created bene ficial bonds among the members. It really builds teamwork because you hav you learn to build a friends hip with your teammates. So you are building that teamwork, that trust, that companionship you know. Anna sent the materials home with youth so they could study. Each group had their o wn set of study materials. The club held team practices, and the county had with their own ways to learn the material.
214 t For the younger ones, Anna had to make preparing for the contest a little more fun. Reflection. Anna believed that reflection might happen when a child did well in th After the contest, the teams often went out to a local restaurant. Anna believed youth had opportunities to again share and reflect on their experiences of the contest with eac h other during the m eal. Again, reflection was viewed as happening through social interaction among youth, and not necessarily as a leader guided phase. Application. Parents also seemed to play a role in helping their child learn through competitive events . Team member usually had a parent who encouraged their participation in these competitive events. For youth involved in the consumer choices project, what they learned was often integrated or applied into their home and family life. Parents saw this when they went shopping together with their children who were involved in the project. Whenever they go shopping, the mother has the list. Her boys go down the aisle now and instead of just picking whatever, they actually look at t analyzing it hoices really makes to make . She often had the more experienced youth mentor the less experienced ones to help them prepare for this event. Thus, experienced youth may have had oppo rtunities to apply their own learning to help others in their club through mentoring .
215 Community s ervice experiences club did at least three communi ty service projects a year. One was a Veterans Day dinner. For another they solicited donations for a home for abused women and children, and then they helped a community of families whose children had a rare disease. These community services were voted on as a club. Even though Anna was the leader , she knew she could not tell the club what they were goin democracy , and 4 These community service projects engaged her club youth in a number of concrete experiences that involved them both physically and emotionally. The Veterans Day dinner was a major event for the club. They hosted the dinner to honor three to six local veterans for their service. The club served them dinner and had a special recognition program for them. Club yout h ran the program. The parents helped pay for the dinner. The younger club members especially en joyed it because they had to dress up for it. Every member had a role which made the event even more enjoyable for the youth. The club officers spoke and ran it as a regular meeting. The group went through an opening invocation, the pledges, and the secret ary recited an opening poem for the vete rans. The officers read the biographies of the veterans and introduced them. Even the youngest members had a role. The y stood in front of the stage and handed the plaque to the veterans when they came up. Others were in Every year youth who had attended in the past told others about what they learned and passed this down to the younger members . the younger members get excited about it. Anna felt this community service helped youth learn respect for veterans and senior citizens.
216 The club also did a project every three months for a home for abused women and children. Youth gathered toiletries , such as toothpaste, shampoo, and conditioner and then placed these items into little bags . T he youngest members made cards with drawing s and placed them in the bags. The club then dropped the bags of f at the home. Then a t Christmas, the club collec ted toys for the children who lived at the home with their mothers. Sometimes the toys came from the dollar store but most of the time club youth went through their own closets to find toys in good shape they had outgrown. Anna felt t his made the experience more personal for the m. They cleaned up the toys a nd dropped the m off. Another community service project involved helping a community of families whose children had a rare disease. At Christmas the club collected donated items and made stockings for the children in these families. At Easter the club youth made Easter baskets. The club then received thank you notes from the childre n who had the rare disease. These youth lived all over the country and getting their responses back was rewarding for her club. Again, the emotional involvement of youth was expre ssed by Anna. You have to realize those kids are all over the nation so the older kids who ee it. them pictures of the kids with their Easter baskets you know and how happy they were, an d tha t makes them feel so good. Anna felt community service helped youth learn the importance of giving back to the community. Each community service project left youth with some message to take away. Youth saw themselves as helping others in need and that ther e were people out
217 She believed these experiences raised awareness and appreciation for what youth alrea dy had. Leadership e xperiences When Anna was in 4 H, opportunities for the development of leadership skills were lacking. Now as a leader of her own club, she encouraged youth to take on leadership roles and provided youth with plenty of leadership opportu nities. She felt this was especially important for the older ones , since they often became club officers. They have been in 4 H a long time, they have been in many different clubs them b does, you know, then I let them take it and build on it. Leadership started at the club level. Anna wanted all of her club members, especially the officers, to provide input on club meetings. When they got together they planned the meeting that way. She also made sure youth were involved in planning camping trips or other field experiences. T eam leadership . Anna di vided the club up into teams of mixed ages in order to work on projects. Both senior and intermediate youth were given l eadership roles on these teams. leaders of the team, they have to let the intermediates kind of be in encourage the intermediates to com e and help and, you know, so... those two age groups work together really well. In turn, the youth leaders of these te ams were expected to provide leadership roles for t he younger members of the team. Anna felt these teams of mixed ages worked well together. She even
218 She did this because older y outh wanted to take on more of a leadership role and help the younger ones with their bags. Mentoring. Anna paired older youth with younger ones or more experienced youth with new members. This mentoring also helped these older youth develop leadership ski lls. Anna explained these pairings worked because younger ones looked up to the older youth. T he older youth acted as mentors or guides to younger youth. But kids teaching other kids with the leader there, they pay more attention. And then the older kids like to help the younger kids To fur ther illustrate this, she described a situation that took place at the beginning of the club year when new families were learning about the club. During the first hour where we have all the new kids in, we explain 4 H and everything. The older kids that ha ve been in 4 H team up with a new member and they sit down with them, and they go through the record book and w, give them that opportunity. Teaching. Teaching was another leadership experience . Y outh were also teaching others what they knew . Plus other youth were learning how to listen to them. Anna described a time wh en club officers planned and le d a l eadership class at one meeting. The offi cers then presented the workshop and covered a variety of t hings about leadership, such as H? They also had leadership skill games, where they had to learn to trust each other , and had demonstrations on leadership. They did puzzles that engaged the club in teamwork. As youth did these activities, Anna saw how some youth came out as natural leaders. The workshop engaged all the youth in the club and was completely done by the of ficers of the club. Anna, for the most part, just watched.
219 Youth c ouncil. Most of her seniors were on county council and some were on the district council. Youth were expected to attend council meetings. County Council members made decisions at the county level . What is the county going to do ? Where are we going to go? At the district level, youth represented the county and planned district events. These experiences got them further involved in 4 H and provided them with additio nal experiences, raising their awareness and understanding about leadership. Application. Anna f elt youth applied their leadership skills at each level as they moved up in the different leadership roles . I t raises everything up a bar. She described how b eing on t he 4 H council influenced youth and how what they learned was applied at different levels. a club and all of the other clubs in your county. Now from the county yo going to go at districts. oing to go from district to state. Well , what the kids learn in leadership is that you have to listen to your area. epresenting them in each level. Civic e ngagement experiences lub was involved in a number of 4 H opportunit ies related to civic engagement. She described how these events influenced yout h along with what and how they learned. 4 H Legislature . Anna encouraged older youth to attend 4 H Legislature ( Leg) in Tallahassee. At th is event youth created their own mock bills , then lobbied for them. Some youth role played being senators, and others p retended to be representatives.
220 they had to st udy the bill before t Youth had to meet with their representatives had to go in the house and vote on the bill and argue the And then it had to go from the House to the S enate and so forth. At this event, those youth who were good at lobbying had opportunities to move to the Supreme Court or became lawyers. Anna indicated that sometimes the role that a youth became paralleled his or her own aspirations about their future career. One youth who went w anted to become a lawyer. He did well at lobbying, but then he ende d up being on the Supreme Court. Anna viewed 4 H Leg as a great learning experience, because youth learned how the process of government worked. Youth also met and worked with other youth f Citizenship Washington Focus. Another civic engagement and leadership experience for her club was Citizen ship Washington Focus (CWF). CWF was a 4 H leadership program for senior 4 H youth. This week long program brought youth together from all over the country to learn about leadership. Youth attended workshops, worked on committees, went on field trips, and participated in social events during the youth from around the country. The kids made friend We found out how they do their 4 H program. They found out how we do our 4 H program. We shared ideas, the kids shared ideas. They talked about stuff. But that was a great experience because they learned nationally instead of just state and district and county. Reflection. Anna felt reflection happened when youth came back from these major events and again shared their experiences at the club level. Youth who attended
221 gave a presentation to the club and shared what they did and learned while there. This , in turn , encouraged other members to go when they were old enough . ose who have been, become leaders, and they go and they share their experiences and it awesome experience. Anna did not describe any specific times where she might have guided or facilitated an a ctual reflection opportunity related to these ci vic engagement events. Application. Anna felt that youth who attended 4 H Leg or CWF came back to the club and often applied what they learned during club business meetings and at county and district councils. Y outh used their leadership skills to influenc e others or passed on what they knew by teaching others. other people and teaches other people. So those skills that they have learned, through mistakes or through reward or through what ever, they teach by their experience and by doing. Anna clarified that not every child was meant to get involved or had an interest in the process of government, and not every club member wanted to be on the county council either. If a child did love learn ing about government and the democratic process, they would move up because of the opportunities 4 H presented related to learning about leadership, citizenship, and civic engagement. Anna felt her club grew because of all the leadership and civic engageme nt opportunities youth had. This kept youth coming back each year. She encouraged youth to take charge and lead the club. She allowed the officers to really be officers and make their own decisions about the club. Her seniors had been in 4 H a long time an d came back every year because of this. She let the most experienced ones take on the role of
222 ild on it. Challenges to the Learning Process Anna descri bed a number of challenges she faced as a leader that she felt inf luenced the learning processes t aking place in her club . Completing project and record books. Getting youth to complete their project or record book was often though time was set aside at club meetings to work on the project books, only seven or eight typically turn ed one in at the end of the year. She did her best to encourage youth to get them done , of the money spent and the time taken to help youth with them. Behavior issues . Listening was an issue for some youth. This was especially true in the first aid class, because it was more education focused and youth had to listen and pay more attention to what was being said. Discipline was sometimes an issue for Anna because a couple youth had behav ior issues in her club. Meeting needs of all youth . Another challenge for Anna was making sure older youth had their needs met. Older members often worked with and mentored younger ones. She expressed concern over the fact that sometimes older youth might feel their needs were not being addressed. Club activities were often focused on the needs of the younger grou ps. The fishing project was an example of this. Older youth or more experienced youth had learned the basic skills in fishing yet had to wait unti l younger or newer members learned the same.
223 Every year I feel bad for the older kids. Sometimes I plan fo r the Intermediates and Seniors is always teaching them how to cast, te aching them how to do the hook project to refresh and apply al l the skills that we went over. Anna also had some youth in her club with special needs. Finding activities that were suitable for them or even adaptable was a t times challenging. Sometimes projects were too in depth for the abilities of her youth. For example, when her club did first aid, it presented a challenge for younger members. Some hands on activiti on one because of their developmental issues. Maybe the activity is not like on their level. , but mental le vel I guess. So little bit to help them out maybe . A couple youth had attention deficit disorders. Sometimes this caused a problem, but Anna talked with the youth and encouraged t hem to rethink their behaviors. And then I refer back to our club rules, and I always have them written down at t he meeting... Ok, what is one of our c Always work as a team, be considerate of others, you know, u h, be Ok, s sometimes I might have to stay with that little group a litt mainly my only difficulty in the club, I would think. Reflections on the Interview, Experiential Learning, and Training Anna appreciated being able to share her stories and experiences about her club during the interview. The interviews he lped her think more about experiential learni ng. Well these three interviews have made me actually think more of the process where I realize the model was in She felt concrete experie nces were in everything and that youth always learned from their experiences. Anna did not really realize reflection was part of the model until later in the in terview when it was discussed. Because she had so many youth in the
224 club, doing reflection was d ifficult. She felt she did not have to time to reflect back on past experiences with youth , because when the meeting was done, she was planning think nonchalantly ction within the 4 She knew she was teaching fun activities and helping youth learn some survival skills but the interview helped her see how youth were taking those skills beyond the club into other areas of their life. But then when you made me sit down and actually think about it and share the experiences, I realize the kids are really enjoying it and they are with it which is total ly awesome . The interview also helped her better understand her own role as a leader and the impacts she had on youth . Anna did not feel she had time to reflect on her own experiences with the club , Anna looked back on the interview and expressed the need for other leaders to have their own opportunities for reflection . I know you talk ed to other leaders , too , us are on the same page that number one le because we ha t can we teach our kids? reflect on the club and the re were memories that I just think back on. The interview also helped Anna realized that parents played an import ant role in club learning. She realized they helped their own children apply 4 H project skills in family outings such as camp ing or fishing trips. She realized parents were involved in these projects , because they too were having fun and learning from their own children about things they use to enjoy doing themselves. She felt this may have played a role in
225 helping her club grow . Yeah, because now I under stand why they keep coming back and why it keeps growing. Anna sug gested that any training in experiential learning should include go ing through all aspects of the model, especially how to best help youth apply skills they have learned. She wanted to make sure she was using the model the right way and felt that leaders should same way youth would . Club Leader 5 Eve Introducing Eve a nd Her Club Eve was the organizational co leader for a co mmunity club. She had been a 4 H club leader for about six years. The c lub was rural in location but also close to a small city/town. Although the original club had been in existence for 15 years, it merged with club about three years ago. Now the club has two leaders. The club met once a month for a business meeting. The meeting s lasted approximately one to two hours . They were held at a local elementary school. Youth in the club were home scho oled , as well as enrolled in private and public schools. Youth ranged in ages from 5 to 18 . Club youth did a variety of traditional 4 H projects , including sewing, cooking, crafts, livestock, and entomology. Her club members participated in council leaders hip at club, county, and state levels. Her senior club officers provided most of the d irections to the club but also had junior officers with simplified responsibilities. Her club got involved in civic engagement and service learning projects. They provide d incentives for members to participate in county events and other activities. The club did a lot of independent learning. Eve also coached a county to prepare for and participate in the 4 H State Forest E cology Event. The team was not
226 a club with officers but consisted of members from seven different clubs. They met two to four times a month to practice for the 4 H State Forest Ecology Contest held every year in the spring . The team had been in existence f or about three years. The team met twice a month from August to March, t hen twice a week from Ma rch to the contest in April. Table 4 1 provides an overview of Eve and her club. Becoming a Leader Although Eve had never been involved in 4 H as a child, she h ad been a membe r of FFA and Girl Scouts. Her husband had been in both FFA and 4 H. They lived on his family farm , and when the y had children, they wanted them to be involved in something that they could all do together . The cou nty agent considered Eve a co re volunteer who had been instrumental in the growth of their county 4 H program. However, when Eve first started the club, she had difficulty gett ing enough volunteers to help. She expres was lunteer leader. She felt she could have when she first became a leader. Eve wanted the club to be up and running by the time her childre n were old enough to join. However, she got to a point where she could not keep thin gs going as a leader and was almost ready to give up. Then a nother leader she knew needed help with her club , too, so the two clubs merged. As a co leader of the now merged club, mostly involved working with and training the club officers , alo ng with other club management dut ies. She expressed needs and values. The club allowed her children to explor e things they wanted to do and provide d a sense of structure for them.
227 Eve considered herself to be a professional volunteer . She enjoyed working with youth and loved doing 4 H. Although she did 4 H because her kids were in it, she felt she would continue even after her kids were out of the program because of what 4 H offered. Previous Education and Train ing Eve always thought of herself as a teacher, but not a classroom teacher. She did She indicated her college coursework provided her with a good background in teaching methods. Eve had degrees i n agricultural education and communication and took a number of courses Extension program provided her with additional professional development opportunities . Although Eve in dicated she never had any specific training on experiential learning, she worked for a 4 H Extension specialist who knew the experiential learning model very well and even worked with her on 4 H curricul um. As a result, she felt she was quite familiar with the components and the processes involved. Eve indicated she received very little volunteer training at the county or state level. However, s he had attended the Southern Region Vol unteer Leaders Forum at the Rock Eagle 4 H Center in Georgia a number of ti mes. She enjoyed going to this training and felt the activities she learned there had been helpful. She often used what she learned with her club. She learned best from those activities that were hands on. She also had attended 4 itute , but found it less helpful for volunteers. Another one was the Florida Volunteer Leaders Forum but it sometimes coincided with the leaders training in Georgia , which she preferred to go to . Eve felt most of her training came from her other leader , wh o was at one time a state 4 H
228 officer. This other leader knew about the different activities and events involved in 4 H at local, s tate, and even national levels. Her Role as Club Leader As a co leader, Eve interacted more with the club youth during the bu siness portions and less with project work , since project leaders handled that. Eve and the other leader generally ran the actual organization of the meetings. Eve was in charge of the agendas. As co leader of a community club, Eve worked with club officer s and guided their decisions about club events and activities. She felt she did a lot of supporting and guiding of club members. Eve viewed her role in the club as cyclical and dependent on the ages and stages of the club members. Right now we have a good amount of mature well educated older members. So my job at this point is to steer them and help them make those decisions and really help them move those other club members and th ey do an excellent job at that. If the club consisted of mostly younger members and younger officers, Eve had to step into more of a leadership management role because younger officers might forget more or needed more help in developing agendas. During the business meetings, Eve sat in back of the room and provided support to the officers if they needed it. As the officers come in I name) today you need t o talk And then from there I sit in the back of the r o As a 4 H leader, Eve felt she provided a caring and positive learning environment . She described a situation where a young Cloverbud had a difficult time with her first presentation at a county event. She had practiced her prese ntation at a club meeting before the event and did fine. But then got to the event and would not do it. She had stage fright. However, Eve still gave her a piece of clothing, a club sweat
229 shirt, for her efforts. all the difference been a negative learning experience was shifted to a more positive one because of Sometimes Eve had to really encourage youth to take on ow nership and be responsible for their projects. W e do a lot of livestock and gardening... hen you sign up for these p t We will be there not my g And so they get fussed at over enough year s that they sible for it. going to go do it. Eve was also the coach of a forest ecology te am at the county level. This team focu sed on a specific project area and set of materials in preparation for the State 4 H Forest Ecology Contest. Eve worked with another agent in her county , and together they helped youth prepare for the contest . The contest covered trees and plants , wildlife, forest health , maps and compass, and tree measurement . Each year they covered a different ty pe of forest ecosystem . Ev e described her role as more teacher, coach , and classroom manager for the youth on the team. Eve pulled the materials togethe r, and did most of the coordination for the lesson or activity , while the county agent knew all the answers . She came prepared to teach lessons and youth came eam meetings were described as quit e different from club meetings. And , and they all have been working together for many years no w. And they get a little . W p t do any of that. I expect the S enior members to kind of keep everybody else in line , free for all.
230 Her approach with the team was different from the community club because there were specific levels of information that youth had to learn for the contest. So the 25 trees , w Because of t hese different levels, Eve had to do more lectures in the initial phases of getting youth ready. Later she guided and moved among the youth as they went into a ctivities. What youth had to learn expanded as they got older and went on to the next level. As a coach for the team, she relied on the s tate forestry web site for preparation materials. When I do things like bingo the national and state level resources for forestry are fantastic. I mean just really, really great. The state level forestry site has all of the materials, all the tree ID, plant ID, pest ID, wildlife ID, everything you can think of is there with the descriptions and multiple photos. So I just pull from that site when I build my PowerPoint or flash cards or whatever. The national site has a really good quiz b owl section and so ll pull that. Eve also looked for opportunities where youth could expand on the subject and find other topics within the forest ecology project area that interested them. For , but because it wa s interesting to youth, they did a series of activities on it. Eve also encouraged and helped the team work on fair projects and demonstrations related to forestry. Involving Parents and Other Adu lts ed to stay. She ofte n utilized parents as helpers. Some roles they played were more involved and long term . One club mom volunteered her time and skills to lead a whole project on beekeeping , because she had a real interest in it. Other pa rents were recrui ted on a short term basis or had more episodic involvement. Some parents handled aspects of the club meetings,
231 such as making sure snacks were there or taking photographs of the differe nt activities when needed. Other moms stepped in to help with sewing cl asses at county camp week. This allowed Eve the time to move around the class and help wi th things as they came up. Parents also volunteered to work with youth at other 4 H venues , such as the county fair. Depending on the project, Eve sometimes recruited outside speakers from aroun d the area to address a topic. Projects were often worked on independently at home. Thus, parents most likely had a substantial influence over what youth did and learned at home as part of the project. What youth did and learned at home seemed to be dependent on what parents knew about the project area and/or the types of resources youth had at hom e. Especially with sewing , sew very little and a lot of times when we finish our day camp the kids will access at home to be able to set up a sewing machine? Do they have the room to set up a sewing machine to be able to practice to show their bit of that. This was also true of some youth involved in livestock projects. S ome parents did not know anything about livestock. At times this created a challenge in getting youth to keep up with the project at home. Eve and her co leader had to step in sometimes and encourage these youth to keep up with their projects. We Have you been trimming hooves? Ha ve And then they go back and say O h , we need to trim hooves and things like that to thei r parents. n recruited and used volunteers to work with youth when they were all together. Some dads help ed with the livestock projects, but g etting them to come to club meetings and/or commit to teaching a project area was not always easy. They were more likely to get involved if it wa s just a short term commitment.
232 Some of our livestock dad s that to mom. So if we know we hav sk And it would be a one tim e volunteer or maybe over the course of several weeks , long term volunteer experience. For the forest ecology team, parents were encouraged to drop their youth off and return at the end of the session to p ick them up. But sometimes parents were recruited to help. One dad was recruited , because he was good at teaching youth how to use the compass. He helped youth get ready for that part of the contest. Each situation was different , and parents stepped in as needed. We find the skills you know. We put out Beliefs on Learning in the 4 H Club Eve viewed 4 H as a great learning environment for youth. She felt her 4 H f life skills were so much more developed than most youth. She indicated her senior members were more able to fill out their college applications as a result of what they had learned in 4 H. Eve also felt club youth learned important decision making skills . She felt they took initiative and did not need to be asked to do something; they just did what had to be done. Eve also felt club youth learned responsibility as a enough y She described her club youth as able to talk and present themselves in a professional manner. This was especially true when they went to visit a livestock buyer. Eve stressed the importance of making a good first impressio n. We work a lot in our club on professionalism and dressing for the occasion and we had our own other clubs they show up in anything. Well our club, we ask them to wear their official 4 H attire. Guess what? The judges take them more se riously and they place better.
233 Influence of social context . Her youth worked very well with others and were courteous. They learned how to behave in meetings. She described that p eer pressure affected what youth did or did not do. Usually there was enough group pressure that if someone stepped out of line, the rest of the group brought that pers on back in line. This group culture created a level of expectation for behavior. When we go places the club is expected to perform to this standard, and behave in this Eve felt th at youth as a group were respectful of each other and did not make hurtful comparisons, especially when they talked about ach ievement or performance levels. Sometimes ith another local club for group activities. This allowed the clubs to share resources. But more importantly the youth grew up together , so being ab le to socialize was important. Being a member of a competitive team , like the forest ecology t eam, built a little in which youth got to know each othe r very well . These are rt. They like to be o and so is better than another. Eve arranged the team based on their attendance and performance. Her county often did well at the contest because they wanted to win. On the day o and brought sandwiches and drinks. This created a more festive , social, and fun atmosphere for the youth , which they really seemed to enjoy . Youth me ntoring youth . Eve encouraged mentoring in her club but felt it was a natural thing that took place among the members. Older members often worked with
234 younger members on their projects. She described a situation where so me older members, who had raised goa ts for a number of years, and they members under their wi mentor ed them on the goat project. She descr ibed another situation where a ninth grade girl was mentoring a sixth grade boy in entomology. The girl hel ped him learn how to pin Who wants to hang out with a sixth grade boy? Selecting activities . The types of activities Eve chose f or the club was dependent on many factors. She selected activities based on their time length so that they could be completed in the time frame they had. She did not want to keep parents waiting. She wanted the activities to be fun but she also had to feel comfortable She also looked for activities she found interesting. Eve also pulled activities together from various sources and did not typically use curriculum from start to finish. She also wanted to make sure that the activities matched the abi lities of the youth in her club. An activity done one year might not work the second year , depending on who she had in the club, their ag es, and their abilities. She preferred interactive, hands on activities because she felt these types of activities helped youth gain confidence and knowledge about something. You know if you let them run through it one time, you They may have never have done it on their own , going to tell definitely a lot of confidence with it.
235 Describing Experiential Learning Learn by doing . experienced something by doing it themselves. As leaders, they would show youth how to do something one time but then allowed them do it the next ti me by themselves. confidence to do it on Eve described a Quilting Day Camp they did as had a number o f sewing machines and a pattern that was already cut in order to save time. Youth started sewing right away . They started first on small projects and sewed for several hours with some direction from an adult helper . Although a helper was right there next t o them, the youth were operating the sewing machine by themselves . After they were done with the pattern, Eve gave the youth some more sewing scraps to use. T he youth then continued to do things with the machine on their own. A lot of them went back and w ere playing with their sewing machines , and they were much more confident in just playing around with it, because we encouraged a lot of that. Concrete experience . Eve described a concrete experience as something a and that it was something that they can hold. She viewed a hands on something indepe Reflection . Eve felt the phase of reflection came naturally later after an activity was done. She saw reflection as happening within a social situation where youth could interact with each other and share their common experiences, thoughts, observations, or concerns with their peers. When asked to describe how reflection happened this way, she described a quilting activity as an example.
236 Well, like on the quilting, they all spread their quilts out at the end and then like next time what would you do? around and let are literally rolling around on the floor and l In this case, r eflec tion was viewed as not necessarily being a guided process facilitated by the leader . Eve described another example of how reflection might take place. In animal scien ce projects, livestock helpers walked youth through the process of giving shots and asked them to review the steps involved to check for past understanding before moving ahead. it might have been a mo nth since they did it, but he has them walk him through it from start to finish , and then he is still very hands on with them bec medicine. So, he makes them talk about creating a tent with the skin and doing all of that, so that way they think about it a little bit. In this case, the learning process seemed to be more guided by a facilitator. However, Eve admitted that typically her club did not come back and talk much abou t what happened at an event or what th ey did. Appl ication . When Eve was asked t o give an example of a situation where youth applied something they learned to another situation, she described a young lady who had been in 4 H a long time. She had been very involved in the 4 H horse project. She was now at t he point where she taught others in the club what she knew about the horse project. She felt the young lady applied the skills she had learned by mentoring others on the horse project. She described another example where youth who filled in their college a pp lications or other forms, used the record keeping skills they had learned in 4 H. Eve compared the writing skills learned in 4 H to those learned in English class.
237 same as writing f experience with that than some of the other kids do . Experiential learning model . When Eve was asked to describe an example of wher e she felt all three phases of the experiential learning model were used, she described an experience that involved the goat project. Youth in livestock projects were not seen as regularly but at some points throughout the project. At the start of a projec t they come together with their animals for a weigh in. Youth wormer some type of walk , and we try to get the kids to teach the showmanship and teach them to hold up the hooves and things like that them the skill a animals at the fair and they look good. So yea h This example seemed to illustrate concrete experiences and opportunities where youth applied their learning when they showe d their own animals at the fair. However, t he level of reflection in this case was not clear. D escribing Club Structure M eeting structure . Club meetings were held in the evening at a local charter school facility. They lasted around 90 minutes. Each meeting included a business meeting, an act ivity, and a recreation time. The business meetings typica lly fo llowed the same basic outline pledges, project reports, old business, new business, announcements, upcoming events, record book information and more depending on the meeting. The business meeting format was kept relatively informal. Meetings were d and that members and parents both provided input on ideas of things the club could do. Kids will volunteer stuff and
238 Okay, yes we can get this done Eve wanted the club to use more parliamentary procedures for meetings bu Although they tried to have an educational activity after every business meeting, the lateness of the meeting made this difficult at times. A number of youth attended tra ditional schools and had homework. As a result they did not always get to have an education or recreation component at meetings. If they did an activity, it either focused on a current project area, involved recreation, or was a service learn ing activity. Sometimes it was a combination of these. They sometimes did educational skill a thon activities depending on the project area. The meetings always ended with a snack as youth waited for parents to arrive and/or take them home. Youth set up the calendar and events and activities in the fall. However, the events and activities planned from January through June were based aroun d the timing of county events. on the agenda H year runs for us but we plan the fall pretty heav ily. So I let them plan out the fall , and then the spring just runs itself as to what has to happen . As a result of this, i n January and February her club focused on record books, the youth fair, non livestock projects, and posters. During this time they m ight not get a lot of business d one because of the preparations for the youth fair in the spring. Any youth that planned to do a county level demonstration presented the talk or demonstration at the club level first. The club held a wrap up meeting in Apri l. An awards dinner was held in May , and in June new officers were elected.
239 Eve encouraged her club youth to follow 4 Standards of Excellence and turn in project records/reports at the end of the year. These standards provided guidelines for what youth needed to complete for the different recognition levels. A county committee typically made up of county leaders judged the record books. Eve indicated her club took pride in completing record books and wanted to turn in blue ribbon record books . Project s tructure . club did a lot of traditional 4 H projects. She described At the beginning of the club year, the county 4 H agent sent out a list of all the project books youth could choose fr om. Youth filled in a club form indicating the projects in which they were interested in. Eve and her co leader then looked for appropriate project books from the list and sat down and talked with each youth about their project area. Youth received one pro ject book free from the county. These books were usually given out in October. Club members had the option of doing more than one project. Newer members were encouraged to select at least one , but no more than two projects a year , while more veteran member s could cho ose to do more. The types of projects youth worked on seemed to change each year, depending on their interests. This was especially true with the livestock projects that went into the youth fair. If youth were interested in a project not offered an example. dog project in our club but other clubs in the county do, so we send all of them over there and they go to the dog project over there and then they come back to us for business meetings If there is something that So we try you know .
240 Recruiting project help. W hile some projects were ongoing and had established project helpers, if there was interest in a new project, another leader or parent had to volunteer. Often, someone raised their hand and offered to help or Eve knew someone that had a skill they could sha re and she asked, Sometimes a parent offered to lead a project because of their own interest in the topic, such as beekeeping. Thus, p rojects were dependent on who was willing to lead it. Working on projects . Most projects w ere done outside of the regular club meetings . Thus, meetings were usually not structured for doing project work. Projects were typically not done as a w hole club but more in small groups . Eve tried to pair up youth so they could work together on a project . She then arranged special workshops to help them learn more about that project area. For example, Eve hosted a quilting workshop to help those youth interested in the quilting project get started. The rest of the project was then done at home. If there w as only one youth interested in a project area, that youth did the project at home as an in dependent learning opportunity or w ith the help of family members. Eve described one boy who was interested in electricity. e does all of his project stuff himself at. His dad is helping him to do that project on his own. Whether projects were done in small groups or individually, youth were expected to report back to the club on their progress throughout the yea r . At the meetings, Eve and her co leader talked youth through parts of their project. They asked questions such as If youth worked in a small group on the same project, jus t one person gave a report. If it was the beekeeping project, one member involved spoke for the group. If it was a
241 livestock project, one member spoke and may talk about fair deadlines. If it was the horse project, one person from that project wou ld stand up and give a report. However, Eve tried to highlight a project area at each meeting . Eve also helped youth develop their poster and demonstration skills , if they were interested in doing these at cou nty and state levels. Role of project books . She used th e project books as a guide or outline for the year. Although Eve pulled lessons from the youth project books at t imes, she found the leader s guide for the project m ore usefu l. Club youth were encoura ged to complete project books. They typically worked on them at home. Youth were expected to include their project books in their e nd of the year project records or reports . Eve indicated that some y outh may not use the book, but still completed much of what the book covered. That is, they knew the parts of the animal or how to check their hooves, yet they may not have used the project book to do them. She felt this might have affected the learning process. Like when they do parts of the activity but not all the way through the t have actually used the book. process. Overall, Eve felt most of her youth did a pretty good jo b w ith their project books. However, getting them to fully complete the books was a c hallenge. M ost already had so much homework to do. So to get them to sit down and do a project book that involved more writing was a challenge. They often said Role of project reports. Youth that did livestock projects were expected to turn in a livestock record book. This book focused on business and financial aspects of the project and lacked components of service learning, leadership, public speaking and
242 expected to complete a project report. This report contained their project information , as well as all other activities youth accomplished during the year. The pro ject report contained a sheet that asked youth to identify the activities they did from their project book. Youth then listed these activities on the sheet. Eve then initialed all the activities that they did. The project record/report book included questi ons about their service learning component, demonstration component, leadership component, project activities, fair exhibits, meetings, field trips and whatever else they did during the year. Eve explained the different club reporting documents they had in their county. The researcher noted that some inconsistencies existed in the terminology used in projects and project reporting, at least between these leaders. So we have three types of record books in our county. We have livestock record books , which are like a business record book. We have project record books , which would be like an individual project, and then we have one that we call achievement record books , which would be the entire 4 H y ear. All these items were typically placed in a thr ee ringed b inder and turned in at the end of the year. The binder co ntained the completed project books, project record, and project stories for each project, along with the financial record and any photos and captions . Describing Club Experiences Eve was asked vario us questions related to how she vie wed youth as learning through different club experiences. She shared a variety of experiences related to projects, community service, civic engagement, and leadership. In her stories and descriptions, the researcher looke d for possible components and processes involved in experiential learning.
243 Meeting experiences Working with club officers . Before the whole club met in September, Eve first met with the club officers. Her officers played a major role in making club decisio ns. The senior officers brainstormed with Eve what they wanted to do that year. In order to plan for the coming year Eve asked them to reflect back on the previous year Then together they went through each month of the coming year and planned different activities. This included a service activity, an education activity, a recreation activity, or any other special events that needed to be on the calendar. This reflective discussion was only done with her club offi cers and not all club members. She felt her officers were going to be the most involved members to begin with , and they probably had a pretty good feel of how the club would think . Eve wanted officers to lead the club meetings. For each meeting, she usuall y created the agenda , but when senior officers arrived, she pulled them aside and went over it with them . Most already knew , but she wanted to make sure because doing this reduced the amount o f time she would have to talk. She wanted the officers to do mos t of the talking. During club business meetings, Eve and her co leader generally stood in the back of the room but were available to clarify any points if needed. Whether meetings were leader led or more officer le d was dependent on the age and capabilitie s of the cl ub officers in any given year. The older the officer, the more likely they were to know the agenda a nd run with it. As club demographics changed over time, roles had to as well. We used to do a fairly leader led program , in the and they develop the agenda and completely run the meeting , while the do all of the announcements an d everything.
244 Meeting behavior. Attending meetings helped youth learn how to behave in meetings. Eve felt this was an especially important lesson for the younger members , who had to learn how to sit quietly during the meetings. Eve gave a copy of the agend a to everyone and expected youth to follow along. Most of the younger ones had difficulty , but they all sit together . Youth mentoring youth . Club meetings also provided a way for youth to teach or mentor other youth. At the beginning of the year, Eve tried to do something interactive where older youth were paired with a junior member to present something about 4 H to the rest of the club. Although this presentation helped n ewer members and their parents better understand mor e about the club activities, she felt it was also a way for the veteran members to possibly share or apply their own learning experience s. Sometimes they gave a PowerPoint presentation and the parents too k notes. So each of our senior officers and they would have a junior compatr iot What do we do as far as service in our club? What would be a recrea tion activity that we would do? What is t he fair? and th ey brou ght their past examples of it. So they al l stood up and said Here is my record book. This is the one I won with this year. Project experiences Eve described a variety of project experiences and her perceptions on the learn ing processes involved. The context involved and the type of project seemed to influence the educational approach used. Livestock projects. L ivestock projects were a little harder for youth to do on their own, especially if the parents did not know much ab out it. Livestock projects often involved teaching through demonstration. Youth then tried to do the same thing by
245 practicing on their animal. However, g iving an animal medicine required more stringent supervision and was not considered an independent acti vit over dose or under Giving medicine to an animal, such as a subcutaneous shot , was usually taught through demonstration first. From there the teaching approach was dependent on the age and experienc e of the youth involved. Eve indicated l eaders and older members were there to help less experienced youth. Because you only give the medicine once, typically, for the animal, so you o finish. Depending on their age and, you know, how well they handle it, monitoring. To help youth learn, Eve did skill a thons with her club, especial ly with the liv estock project. These interactive learning stations were developed around a specific skill or concept and helped youth practice a variety of project based skills. Eve learned how to develop skill a thon stations when she worked for a youth development facu lty member at a university. Reflection in livestock projects. Eve felt that opportunities for group reflection were limited in livestock projects. Although Eve and her co leader were available by e mail or phone and did home visits, they did not see livest ock youth on a regular basis. project , they often were ready to move on to another one. As a result, there were limited opportunities for reflection. Application in livest ock projects. Eve felt that the application of learning was evident when youth showed their animals, e specially in successive years. A learning curve was evident the first year , but over time, youth improved their efforts when they got their animals ready for a livestock show. The context of a competitive event seemed
246 to influence their learning efforts over time. Eve described the goat project as an example of how learning is demonstrated in successive years. S need to be trimme year they show up at weigh in and they brought an animal th at is decent. They did some research they keep their hooves trimmed and the feeding a better product. down to. 4 H is competitive , Sewing projects. did sewing and o ften completed a sewing item in time for the youth fair. Eve had her club do a variety of sewing activities to help them build basic skills in sewing, such as making rag quilts where the seams did not have to be exact. When youth reached the point where th ey were ready to move to the next level, Eve then had them start working with patterns that involved cutting out pieces and sewing together real seams . Reflection in sewing projects . Sewing was well suited for day camps. Eve felt this allowed youth more t ime on the sewing machine and more one on one attention , because parents were there to assist. As a result , youth were better able to finish their sewing project . This also provided more time for reflection . When youth finished their quilts, Eve and the ot xt time? What kind o Entomology projects. Eve described an example of where one youth took her she was only in the nin th grad e, she decided to host her own bug camp. She took this idea and applied her previous learning in her own bug camp.
247 s working with her hortic ulture agent , o do a bug camp cause the UF bug camp is more for middle schoolers and is a real advanced curriculu m and this would be more of a learning how to start an thing! The horticulture agent is going to be t here to assist her. Our ninth grader. Oh yeah! A week long day camp by herself. A pplying learning in multi year projects. Eve described how d oing multi year projects built on the previous learning. This was again evident in livestock projects . Especially if they decide to continue doing it , because a lot of them will turn it into a bre eding animal project , enetics and looking at pedigree s. Rabbit projects also offered opportunities to build on learning. Although small and relatively inexpensive, youth got involved in breeding programs and then worked at selling their rabbits. Youth might have started by showing one rabbit and then advance to breeding and selling them to others. Like livestock p rojects, s ewing was also done as a multi year project. Eve felt this allowed youth to build on their sewing skills over successive years. For example, youth started out by making simple outfits and learning basic skills. B y the time they graduated from hig h school they made their own prom dress. Forest e cology team experiences . When the forest ecology team met to practice, Eve had to have a variety of hands on lessons for them. Practice sessions often consisted of identifying and going through actual specim ens found in woodland habitats including insects, leaves, bark, and small branches from trees. Eve laid out 10 40 samples on a table and had laminated pictures of diseases, insects, and wild life. We have them go through and practice one time without any he lp , and then we go over all of the answers. And that way they get the feel of what
248 any prep at a contest. They just go and do it. Although the contest was split into different age leve ls, Eve had her team study all the materials for the contest, at least initially some nterme diates and S As the contest got closer, Eve helped the J un iors focus on their materials. Games were used to engage youth in learning the names of plants and animals. They did a lot of jeopardy and bingo. Youth were also ex pected to practice at home using the materials provided on the forest ecology website. When they learned about compass work, Eve had a club dad come in who had extensive experience in teaching others about using a compass. When they got together to practice, he used a big survey map and asked youth , What is this p ointing T he youth had to read the map and write out their answers on a sheet. The dad also had them figure out distance for different compass settings. This meant they had to hold the compass correctly and walk th So that is pretty exp Forest ecology youth also went on field trips to woodland areas. These trips typically occurred on a Saturday and helped you th prepare for the contest. An E xtension agent met them at a designated location and walked them through the woods and d id tree identification with them. Youth often had to identify the trees themselves first. Eve felt these experiences were very student led and were opportunities for experiential learning . Eve stressed that the forestry team was very interactive and that s he r elied on them to learn a lot of material and to help keep the team going.
249 Mentoring. Eve encouraged more experienced youth to teach or mentor other youth for the contest. Eve usually paired a veteran with a new team member to help them learn the materi al for the contest. Sometimes the youth even arranged for guest speaker to come and speak to the team. They hear of someone in the community that Fair projects . Eve also wanted her forest ry team to do mor e than just participate in the forest ecology contest. She encouraged them to work on fair projects related to forestry and helped them as needed. Eve also encouraged them to do a demonstration a nd/or talk at the county level. Reflection. Eve felt reflecti on occurred on these trips as a result of constant feedback between the instructor and the youth on the field trip. Eve pointed out the team was more used to talking about their experiences because of the way the meetings were structured. They often met as a group and sat around in a U shape to talk about things. Sometimes the agent who helped with the instruction would come to a team meeting and initiate a discussion about a particular event or activity they did that Application. Youth then took what they learned and applied it at the forest model. Eve not only felt youth applied learning at the contest but that they also reflected on their scores afterwards and how well they did in the different sections. They apply it at the contest and then we reflect because we look at their scores afterwards and we talk about it as a group. Who did well in which section? What are you going to do next year? And so we sit around the room and we talk about Here was our strong ally focus on this next
250 Eve felt the application of learning also happened when youth went on to do demonstrat ions in the subjec t area. She encouraged youth to do talks on dif ferent forestry related topics. g to do one on pinning o that one is a full circle in the experiential learning model. I mean we do the wh ole thing from start to finish. Reflecting in record books and reports. Eve encouraged youth in both her community club and forest ecolog y team to complete a record book and hand it in at the end of the year. This was often done as a group at the end of the year. Eve felt that most of reflection for a project and its related activities occurred through the record books. Questions in the end of the year record books included but were not limited to: challenges? Tell me about your successes? What was your There was also a planning calendar where youth wrote in the dates of the different things they did during the year related to their project. She felt this effort financial component to the project record book because ev ery project had a cost, and she wanted them to realize that. Eve kept track of d ates and any photos taken during the year. She provided photos at the end of the year when youth worked on their r ecord books. They picked and ch ose phot As part of the project record (or report) , youth also did a project story. This was their personal reflection of what they did and learn ed as a result of the project. The project story consisted of a narrative and a picture story with captions. Each project had
251 its own story. If youth did multiple projects , th ey completed multiple stories. Eve described how the voice of youth often came out in their project stories. I mean, you kn ow these kids in the county and you can hear their voice come out and so you know how much they wrote and how much help they had and how much reflection, because sometimes you get just an awful story and sometimes you get these really funny little stories that go with it. Leadership experiences Eve wanted to involve more of her youth in leadership experiences than just the older members. As a result, her community club had two sets of officers senior ould be our juniors and intermediates These junior officers were in charge of pledges, reading the minutes, cash boxes during fundraisers, and gave other reports as needed. All had a role in the club meeting. The senior officers sat at the front of the meeting room , but due to limited space, the junior officers sat in the back of the room. Although most meetings were led by the senior officers, the junior officers were completely in charge of the April meeting. The make up of the officers depended on the ages and capabilities of the youth in the club in any given year. Some years they had m ore officers than other years. The officers also took the lead on arranging some club events. It was fire prevention week fi rs enior members that I would love to see one of the EMS or fire department So she called the local fire department and they came with two fire trucks. The kids got to shoot off hoses and they dressed them up and showed them all the alar It was the best, it was awesome. attend these monthly meetings at the county level. As a result , they often had a strong presence there. To be on the county council youth just showed up but had to attend so
252 many meetings and be a certain age in order to run for office. Although this was another meeting for youth and parents to attend, Eve felt there was value in having her youth there , because they met youth from other clubs . At t hese meetings youth made county wide decisions, worked on fair activities and planned the awards banquet held at the end of the year. Eve described an issue related to council experiences, ages, and decisions. What cou ncil members could actually do was limited by the age of the members and how well the clubs were represented. If a council consisted of younger members , there were limits as to what they could realistically accomplish. Eve felt this created a youth leaders hip issue within the council. If we had an actual county council rep from every club that was a senior level member , , but a lot of our re ps are not awar to make big decisions on county wide fundraisers. The parents are going to end up doing most of the work at tha t point. Eve wanted to see her county council become more youth directed , but having youn ger members made this more difficult. Getting their input was important , but the younger members could not take on some projects by themselves. S enior members would just run with it. We try to limit our officers to like 8th gr aders on up a se Moving out of comfort zone . Taking on leadership often pushed youth out of their comfort zones . This was especially true for those youth who were shy. Eve described one such young lady on the ir county cou ncil . club meeting she will report back that these are the things , going to be very short , and then our county level president, because she to jump in and fill in. I think she enjoys
253 coming to county council , and I mean she is always there. have but she is always willing to report, but she d Eve had several youth that also helped to lead a project area . One in particular had worked on the horse project since she was eight years old. She was a senior in high school at the time. She was now considered a state level leader in the project and was even involved in developing curr iculum and part of a ranch horse team. Civic engagement experiences Eve described a number of civic experiences in which club youth were involved in. One was the county proclamation day. They went to the county courthouse and met with the county commission ers. This event gave many of the youth their first expo sure to how government worked. T hey have to dress appropriately a nd usually our county president presents on behalf of the county and tells what 4 H is and they give her the proclamation and everybody else sits in a ro w and they have us stand H Day at the Capito This day long workshop brought youth to the state capitol , where youth engaged in various tours and workshops related to government and leadership. Older youth often had conflicts with the fair or FCAT tests at school. This meant younger youth often we nt , which limited what they could prepare for. If we have older members going we prep th o niversity H is , ake sure you use these terms , s important to us right n But the little ones H walking for them. They also sent s enior youth to 4 H Leg. Eve felt that the ones that often went to this went further and became more involved in civic engagement and leadershi p
254 whether in the club, in college, or later in life. Eve thought these youth often came back Applying learning. not taught parliamentary protocol, youth who attended civic engagement experiences often modeled the behavior in the club . he ones who go and do those things, yo u see it occur in the e not teaching it. Oh , this i s Eve stressed that civic engagement was a diffi cult subject to teach and generate grownups, s , because of these opportunities, Eve felt 4 H youth were more civic ally literate than most other children. know what those buildings are. They , even if they only do it a couple of times . Community ser vice experiences Community service projects were typically done as part of a club meeting , but after the business porti on. Eve des cribed one community service as putting together le organization . Club members contributed items for the kits. The clu b then got together and did an assembly line to put the kits together. Another same day the youth learne d about rocketry and shot some rockets off as part of the National Youth Science Day experiment.
255 Eve also gave an example where one youth initiated and organized a community service event for the club. The youn g member was in the ninth grade and she organized a CPR night for the senior members of the club. She worked wit h the local fire department and had them come in and teach the members. Eve also encouraged the forest ecology team to do community service activities. F or one service project, a member on the team arranged an invasive plant roun d up at his church. An 11 y ear old youth talked with the pastor of the church and made all the arrangements. However, Eve stressed that not all youth were able to take on the planning and organizing of a community service project. This was more dependent on their interests and level of maturity. Parents also had an influence. the support there to be able to do it. They are not capable of making those phone calls not on their own , Experiences giving demonstrations and talks Eve encouraged her club youth to do a demonstration or talk at county events. For youth that were new or shy, she encouraged them to do team demonstrations , outh up with another youth who had a similar interest. Two young girls decided to do a demonstration on how to make a rag quilt. Eve and her co leader h elped them through the process. we are working on posters now. W ing events. Eve worked with youth on their demonstrations to make sure they contained the necessary elements. Eve expres sed pride for her 4 H youth and the quality of
256 demonstrations they did at county events. She felt they were the most prepared and knew what was involved in a demonstration. She explained this to her son on e day when he complained how others in school were doing their classroom presentations. Well everybody is doing it this way and reading off of H and beginning, a middle, and an end. You introduce yourself and you g et up there and you know th You have a PowerPoint. You do H e had the best presentation all day long , and he dressed for it ! Not all youth did actual demonstrations or talks. There were other similar venues in 4 H for presentin g something , Application. Eve viewed that participating in one of these events was a way for youth to apply something they learned in a project at another level . Reflection . Eve described reflection as possibly happening afterwards when judges provided comments to her youth about their presentations. These judges would talk to youth after a competition . They often made suggestions and pr ovide d constructive comments for doing better the next time youth participated in the event . Recognit i on of youth . Although her county agent recognized youth who turned in blue ribbon record books at the end of the year, Eve had her own incentiv es and reco gnition strategies. She wanted to recognize all youth who completed a project, did a fair exhibit, did a demonstration at county level, and turned in a project record book. They did not have to be blue ribbon level but just completed and submitted . For you th that met these standards, Eve gave each one a special item of sewn clothing. She felt th at providing incentives for the completion of projects helped youth to set goals for themselves. These incentives also encouraged youth to think about ways to do bet ter
257 demonstration. I needed to kick it Rewarding achievement by getting a unique piece of apparel was a big hit with her club . Apparel given o ut included rain jacket s, sweat shirts, and vests. Youth were recognized at both club and county level. Eve felt this was a big reason why her youth had so much participation in coun ty events and in record books. also recognized at a big dinner at the end of the year and they brought in livestock buyers and any sponsors they might have had during the year. Challenges to the Learning Process Eve identified a num ber of constraints or challenges to learning in her club. Although some were related to integrating experiential learning, others related to the learning context. EL model not on leader s mind. Eve did not think about the model when she developed or guided a learning experience. Having a time for r eflection was not something Eve thought about formally . She felt her club did a good job in developing and offering hands on experiences for youth, but the reflection component of the model was often not there , , Finding time for reflection . Making time for reflection with youth was difficult because of time constraints during and after club activities. Club meetings started and often ended late. There were time constraints with the agenda , and youth often had homework and ate dinner afterwards. Younger ones were often tired. get that time to sit down with about what yo
258 Single year vs . multiyear projects . The length or duration of the project also seemed to impact learning . Eve felt youth had more opportunities to reflect on and then build on their learning through multi year projects. Leaders can then ask youth can you expand this project? W hat can yo If youth worked on a project for one year , but later lost interest in it and Age related issues . Eve described a number of issues in the club rel ated to the ages of the youth. Club meetings were held in the evenings and were mostly for handling c lub business. This was at times an issue for families with younger members . She let parents know that if they had a young child, that child had to sit stil l for the business meeting. so etimes Eve point out that clubs composed of very young 4 Hers were typically more leader directed than youth led. Yet as the club aged and youth grew older, many leaders continued to lead the same way. This often caused issues with older youth , because they wanted more independence and freedom in the club to make their own choices. I think we run into that issue , especially with some of our younger 4 H with them. Once they get to be Intermediates and S where it is not leader led? Where you are not doing it for them? Eve described that working with young 4 Hers was generally easier and more comfortabl
259 not Helping leaders understand how to change this was She thought this situation might lead to older youth dropping out of a club , if the leader could not make that transition to a more youth led club. Keeping youth challenged. Eve s truggled to keep her veteran forest ecology These were those who had been on t he team for a number of years. Some veteran members were getting to the point where they had reached a learning plateau fo r the forest ecology material s. who have been here for four years and have gotten bored but we still have to maintain the minimum level for the newbie members basically. And of material , so it can be very intimidating. She wanted to keep them engaged , while teaching new team me mbers the material and was at looking at id eas that would challenge them more . One was to have more experienced youth on the forest ecology team collect samples and be in charge of the practices. She especially involved the homeschooled member s because they had more time to do so . This same situati on also affected her community club. Eve emphasized the importance of addressing the needs of the older and veteran youth in the club, especially with a club of mixed ages. Eve felt that as youth grew , so did their interests and attitudes. She had to find what worked for them , which at times was challenging . Issues with schools, schedules , and contexts . traditional and homeschooled youth. This made scheduling field trips and other learning
260 activities outside the club meeting more challenging. Those in traditional schools were in classes during the day. Those that were homeschooled had more flexibility during the day and could do their own field trips. If they did schedule a day trip or activity , they ran the risk of leaving other youth out. Eve also had to be careful and make sure that homeschooled youth did activities as a homeschool group and not as a 4 H group to prevent this same problem. Eve al so described some issues related to the learning contexts created by the different s chooling backgrounds of her club youth. With homeschoolers , civic engagement was a little easier to incorporate because it became part of their curriculum. the project learni ng a s part of their curriculum, w hereas, school youth had to take a day off of school to be involved in any day time activities during the week. Plus , the work This was also team members were h omeschooled and half were not. The homeschoolers incorporated what they learned into their homeschooled lessons. This meant that Eve had to be creative , if she were to get the involvement of non homeschooled youth , or at least know what was going on in their classroom in order to tie everyt hing together. Reflections on the Interview, Experiential Learning, and Training Eve believed her county lacked any real training opportu nities for leaders, except perhaps some one on one trai ning as new leaders joined wanted to see more of these happen. She felt these would be valuable, especially if leaders had time to get together and refle often talked
261 with other volunteer leaders from my county about just having a brown bag dinner night and just talking about issues that come up in a pla . learning was more than any volunteer training she received. model was. So of that covers that (in her county). Eve suggested having training where an instructor took them through each step of the e xperiential learning model. She needed examples of how the model might work in an actual club meeting or other context. Perhaps work on each section of the the model So , yea h , I would love to see something like that. Eve felt that the process of reflection was different for the different ages. She suggested that any training in experiential learning should help leade rs understand the best ways to refl ec t on an experience with the d ifferent ages. en you have big to little kids. Y What did we d What did we do w The teena gers are , So to have some examples of how to handle that in different types of clubs and actually have to do it, you know or type s of questions to ask. Eve made a suggestion about trainings and how groups worked together. She noted that instructors often broke attendees into groups where leaders were with other leaders they did not know. Eve preferred to work with her own leaders , b ecause she felt that would benefit her club more. If they worked together , they would be That way they could work together more as a team back in the club.
262 Eve expressed excitement about the opportunity to eventually readin g th e research . wait to read it and what everybody does differently! I need some ideas! I am hearing myself talk and I wonder how other clubs do this? Composite Description of Leaders and Findings The perceptions, beliefs, and experiences of the five leaders Ella, Ruby, Marta, Anna, and Eve, revealed many dimensions of experiential learning taking place in the 4 H community club. This section of Chapter 4 provides a composite description of the leaders and summarizes the findings of the study based on the research questions. Table 4 1 provides an overview of the l eader s and their club s. Reasons for Being a 4 H Leader Each participant in the study had different reasons for getting involved in 4 H and becoming a leader. So me leaders grew up in 4 H. Ru by described herself as being Others, such as Ella, had not grown up in 4 H , but loved to learn and felt school educator. She described how being in 4 H gave her the op portunity to grow as a per son. Marta felt that teaching and working with youth was always something Anna grew up in 4 H and wanted her children to have the same experiences in 4 H that she had. So she eed that needed to be f Eve had not been involved in 4 H as a child but wanted her children to be in a program where they a ll She expressed that 4 H allowed her children to explore things on their own, yet gave a sense of structure. Throughout the interviews , the leaders expounded the many benefits the 4 H club offered youth, such as the development of life skills, learning in a supportive and -
263 minde d community 4 H created a sense of belonging and inclusiveness. Marta liked the 4 part of 4 H for these reasons. A number of the lead ers expressed a strong desire to continue being a 4 H leader even after their own children were grown and out of 4 H. Ella expressed this best. , because you se of the leaders indicated they w ere very passiona te what they did in the 4 H club. Learning a bout Experiential Learning Leaders described training opportunities for them as being offered through distance learning at the state level, at county workshops or leaders meetings, along with ann ual state and regional leader conferences. Most leaders in the study indicated they had attended some form of training as a leader. T he degree to which training venues wer e utilized by leaders varied in each county . This also depended on what county level training venues 4 H agents offered their leaders. Leaders described that most trainings were often focus ed on topics related to club management guidelines , fundraising ideas , new projects, leadership, dealing with parents, and risk management. Although mos t of the leaders felt they had been introduced to the experiential learning mode l at some training program they attended, most could not describe having a specific tra ining on the experiential learning model or the importance of it in the learning process . For example, Ella enrolled in a number of trainings but did not recall one specifically on experiential learning. Marta attended workshops for leaders at county a nd dis trict levels. At these meetings, she received general in formation and thought that at c ertain times, a hands on activity was also involved . She thought she remembered
264 one on experiential learning, but could not describe anything specific about it. Anna believed her county did trainings all the time and the ones she had attended had be en help ful. She felt h er county agent provided meetings , and that some meetings included training about learning in the club. She felt she had seen the mod el in one of these trainings. Eve did not think her county offered actu al leader trainings, except perhaps as one on one with the agent. However, she was familiar with the experiential learn ing model because of her past experiences working with a curriculum specialist in 4 H. Eve also felt her own education played a role in h elping her understa nd learning and education theories. Ruby was the only leader not familiar with the model . She indicated she had not attended any training workshops as a leader, though her count y offered trainings . Ruby said she learned most of what she knew a bout 4 H clubs from her club co leader , who was also her mother . Thus, how these leaders learned about experi ential learning , or how to integrate the consiste n t. Leaders indicated that monthly leaders meetings were often used as a venue for getting information to leaders. Some leaders described training as being offered during these meetings. Anna felt these meetings were especially important to find out what other clubs were doing and because they provided a chance to talk things over with other club leaders . These meetings were generally well attended , but not every county held these meetings on a regular basis and not every leader that was interviewed attended them. Other training ven ues . Marta and Eve described the learning benefits of attending the Southern Region Volunteer Leaders Forum held at the Rock Eagle 4 H
265 Center i n Georgia. They enjoyed going to this meeting, because it offered hands on workshops for leaders. However, the tr avel distance made it harder for leaders to attend. The state also held its own volunteer leaders forum, but distance was a concern and at times the meeting conflicted with the Rock Eagle meeting. Growth of leade rs . What also emerged as a common theme was that leaders grew and learned through their own club experien ces how to work with youth in a more learner centered way . In the beginning, Ella interjected her own ideas and opinions on how youth should do something. She learned over time to step back and l et them guide their own learning and , if necessary, to let them learn from their mistakes. Marta , too , he beginning she they were most interested in doing as a club. Thus, leaders seemed to be learning through their own experiential learning processes, contributing to th eir own growth as a leader and a person. Describing Leader s Role in Learning The 4 H leaders selected for the study were conside red organizational leaders and were generally invo lved in club management . In this role they often developed club meeting sched ules, worked with club officers, parents, and recruited , assigned , and assi sted project leaders as needed . M ost described themselves as also observing and/or working with groups of youth in the various learning venues projects , public speaking , leadershi p, community service, a nd civic engagement activities. L eaders in the study described a range of roles they felt they played in the learning process. M ost leaders saw themselves as guiding , supporting, and
266 encouraging youth in the club, but they also descr ibed their rol e as teacher, coach , mentor, role model, mediator, disciplinarian, collaborator, and co learner. Their role s changed depending on the context or situation . For example, Anna saw herself as a collaborator with youth on various projects. She al so described herself as a guide and However, if a problem arose between youth, she would step in and mediate the problem. Eve described her role as being more coach, teacher, lecturer, and classroom manager with the forest ecology team because of the levels of information youth were ex pected to know for the contest. Eve also indicated that age s of club members affect ed C lubs with a majority of very young members would be more leader direc ted but then shift to more youth directed approach as club youth became older. She felt this did not always happen and led to problems because the older youth wanted more independence and freedom. She also felt leaders could help youth by modeling appro priate behaviors. ight their own projects that fit their interests and abilities. A number of leaders talked about being mentors to youth and guiding them throu gh a project or in helping develop their leadership skills. The role of the leader as a she encouraged youth to take ownership and responsibility for their projects. Ella saw her role as also foster
267 none of the leaders described their role in terms of guiding the experient ial learning model or process. For Eve, the experiential learning model was not on her mind when she developed or was conduct ing activities with youth. alize the Addressing e ach component or phase of the experiential learning model was not done in an y formal sense by the leaders. Working with adults. Club leaders also played a role with other adults involved in the club. L eaders desc ribed their role as helping to orient, mentor, guide, and manage other adult volunteers in the club, and parents in general. Ella especially saw the need to mentor, guide, and support her project leaders, too. A number of leaders in the study expres sed the importance of keep ing their project leaders happy and not overwhelmed with the project they were leading . Project leaders played an important r ole in helping youth comp lete project books and reports. Ella wanted her project leaders to grow and expand their own leadership skills. She learned over time to step back as a leader and not to interject her own opinions about their handling of an activit y. Ella also felt she was guiding and mentoring parents to keep them from getting too overwhelmed with all that 4 H involved. Describing Parents Role in Learning In this study, the leaders expressed that parents often played a direct or indirect role in w hat youth achieved and learned in the club. Most leaders felt having the support of club parents was very important, not just for the successful management of the club but to also suppor t youth learning. Ella felt parental involvement w becaus Those parents who supported and encouraged
268 their children to do projects, enter fairs and competitions, or get involved in other 4 H a ctivities, also seemed to play a role in the experiential learning process f or their own child or children. T he role and level of involvement of parents, or other adults, in the club seemed to vary depending on the preferences, needs, and project focus of the leader and her club. Each leader utilized parents in differ ent capacities within the club. R ole of club helper s . Most leaders recruited parents to be both project leaders and club me eting helpers . For those parents who were project leaders their main r ole was to lead the project area and help youth complete their project books. Anna was both the organizational leader and project leader for the club and described herself as Ruby and her mother served in the role of project leaders too, but did not have parents help. Role of parents at home . This study also uncovered aspects of the important H learning experiences, especially outside of the c lub meeting. This parents expressed their own excitement about the camping and hiking projects because they used to do the same when they were young. This enhanced their involvement because of their o wn past experiences. They helped their own children apply what they learned from the club meetings by taking them on family camping experiences. This The experience was ma de more personal with the involvement of their parents. Marta expressed something similar where her youth learned about outdoor cooking. Some youth went camping with family and applied their skills by cooking for their parents. The role of family in the le arning process was also pointed out by Eve. Since most of her
269 the parents knew about the project area and the types of resources they had at home. Issues with parents . Le aders described possible issues with parents at meetings, especially with those not directly helping with a group or project. A number of the leaders felt parents sometimes took over or distracted their child during meetings, making it difficult for the ch i ld to become more independent. Each had different ways to address this concern. did not speak up a s much when the parents were around. Ruby fe when paren ts were there and did not allow parents to stay for meetings. If they did, they stayed in another room until the meeting ended. Anna felt homeschool parents might have a interfere in an activity. Anna addressed this concern b y giving parents who were not directly helping with a project or other activity, a separate project to work on. This gave the pare nts a chance to be away from their child, mingling and talking to other parents, yet still involved in the club . She then felt the child had more freedom to use their imagination and voice, thus allowing them to grow more socially, emotionally, and mentall y. On the other hand, some parents were totally unin volved in the club and what their child was doing in it. These parents dropped their children off and then picked them up when meetings were over. For these youth, additional support and encouragement wer e often needed to help these youth complete their projects.
270 C lub s as Supportive Learning Environment s S ocial nature of club s During the interviews, leaders often talked about the social nature of the club and how this influenced learning. Club meetings wer e very collaborative and social, with many interactions among youth and adults. All the leaders fostered a sense of openness to sharing and talking among club members and with the leader. Youth were often described as being able to talk and share ideas wit h others in the club. Ella felt the group c ommunity was important in helping youth learn and grow. Eve felt the group culture and peer pressure had an positive way. Anna felt the social nature o f her club created a sense of camaraderie and acceptance and there was no in or out crowd. She encouraged her youth to work out the ir own differences as a group. Leaders reported that being part of a group gave their youth more confidence to try new things, thus often stepping out o f their comfort zone to do so. When one youth saw another youth having a good time doing something, they wanted to do the same thing as well. Leaders described how even shy youth became more confident about speaking in front of others in the club because i t was a natural thing to do in 4 H. A number of social learning strategies were described. Leaders felt these enhance d the learning experiences of youth. Leaders encouraged youth to work collaboratively on projects, competitive events, and in community ser vice and civic engagement experiences. Through these collaborations youth not only learned from each other , but also gained social and teamwork skills that influenced them later in life. Thus, learnin g experiences in the club were embedded within the frame of a social context and influenced by it.
271 Learning through m entoring . Youth mentoring youth seemed to be a common practice in all the clubs. Often older or veteran youth taught younger or newer youth. Eve felt this type of collaboration Older mentors became role models for younger members. Marta felt mentoring benefitted both sides of the relationship. Younger youth often looked up to older youth, thus influencing their behavior. Older youth then felt good , because they he lped someone else that needed help. Ella encouraged mentoring to help youth gain leadership skills. Learning in teams . Eve said her forest ecology team created a supportive family atmosphere. Anna felt teams built leadership skills because every team had t o have a lead er . She also felt being on a team actually made youth more independent , because of the closer one on one attention they received. Ella described how her youth worked and learned together as they developed and used games to help them and the cl ub p repare for competitive events. Learning in groups. Leaders organized their clubs into groups for working on projects. H ow the groups were set up was influenced by size of club, ages of you th, and the types of projects. Ella and Marta divided their club into groups based on age levels. For Ella, this approach fostered more discussion because the ages were closer together. Marta described how being in a new place made a group of her youth more dependent on each other during a national civic engagement eve nt in another state. Ruby and Anna organized their groups based on the ty pes of projects of interest to youth . Anna had a mix of ages in each group but had limited number of seniors. She put a senior in each group to help serve as a mentor or leader for th e group. Youth in Ev club often did small group or individual projects. The projects in her club (e.g., livestock)
272 were typically done at home and not at club meetings. The group arrangements seemed dep endent on a numb er of factors, such as ages of memb ers, numbers of members, types of projects, meeti ng times and lengths, and more. Another strategy u sed by leaders was to keep the c loverbuds together to do their own project work or activities. Their needs could then be better me t. Ella and Marta placed th eir c loverbuds in a separate group with their own project leader. Any talks they gave at the club level were only in front of their own peers. When field trips were arranged, Ella tried to have a sepa rate program arranged for them. Influence of club struct ure M eeting structure . Club meetings generally lasted one and a half to two hours and were usually held once a month. Some leaders held additional meeting s, if other activities were involved , such as camping or other field trips . A business meeting was alw ays held within the time frame. Most leaders also described having time for an educatio nal and/or recreational activity. Time constraints for meetings determined how much project work could be accomplished, or if another recreational activity could be incl uded. Through the business meeting portion, leaders believed youth learned about leadership, parliamentary procedures, how to work together, and the importance of order and being organized. If they went on to be an officer at the county level or district l evel, there were additional learning exp eriences involved. Leaders generally wanted youth to lead the club meetings and to hear their voice and ideas. Leaders gave input as needed. Eve described that the ages of o fficers had an influence on the level of he r involvement in a business meeting. Younger officers needed a little more assistance .
273 Business meetings were often venues for speaking in front of others as part of a project and/or talk and demonstration requirement. This was not always easy for youth to do, especially in the beginning of their 4 H years. The support of leaders and other club members often helped shy or newer youth move out of their comfort zone and find the confidence to speak. Youth also learned leadership by teaching or mentoring other s in meetings. For younger youth, meetings helped them learn to behave and s it quietly while others spoke. role models, especially if they were club officers. P roject structure . Most of the leaders interviewed did whole club or small group did more independent projects. Ella, Ruby, Marta, and Anna home or in small groups outside the club meeting. Marta believed that doing projects in 4 opportunities. The types of project experiences described by the leaders varied greatly. Leaders described how projects p rovided y outh with many opportunities for hands on experiences. Youth created bingo games , went on hikes in the forest, went seining for marine life at the beach, performed as a clown, sewed skirts , made pasta dish es, showed a hog at th e fair, bred rabbits, used a compass to navigate a trail, and watched the stars at night. The qualities and elements of these experiences are further discussed in this chapter . Leaders encouraged youth to do demonstrations or illustrated talks at least at the club level, but often at county levels, too. For shy or new ones, leaders encouraged
274 team demonstrations. Some youth went on to district and state level presentations at various competitive venues, such as county fairs and 4 H state judging events. The choice of what to do for a t alk or demonstration and on what topic was left up to the youth to decide. Topics were typically project related. A number of leaders described teaching youth presentation skills during club meetings. For example, Marta often taught youth these skills by d emonstrating proper techniques. Leaders in the study emphasized the importance of project books in planning the club year and in completing project activities. Some youth did multiple projects each year. Generally , youth were expected to complete at least six activities from a project books. Some leaders might not have used the books , but indicated youth did similar enough activities , so they were stil l given credit for doing so. At least two of the leaders encouraged their club youth to work toward 4 tandards of excellence. C lub youth were encouraged to turn in a projec t record or report at the end of the year. This report basically included the project book, project report, project stories, and any photos . Although youth o ften complained about complet ing books and reports, they had a sense of accomplishment when they were completed and turned in to the leader. The reports were then turned into the county and judged according to a set of criteria. Youth that di d well received county awards, thus providi ng youth with additional recognition. These reports, especially the project stories, were viewed as important reflection tools and will be further discussed. Influence of learning strategies Leaders described a number of strategies or practices in the club that s eemed to influence the quality s learning experiences.
275 Encourage youth to go beyond their comfort zone . The encouragement and support of the leader and other youth seemed to influence youth to go b eyond their comfort zone and do things t hey would normally be afraid to do. Failure was ok because youth saw others who failed , but who kept trying. This support also was reveled through the awards and recognition p rocess that 4 H subscribes to. Eve described a story about one young 4 Her who ha d stage fright but because she made a real effort, she was still recognized by the club and rewarded. This in turn built her confidence to keep trying. Ella described that having a one on one connection betwee n youth and a caring adult was critical and tha t this relationship connected them to other facets of 4 H and helped them grow as learners. Foster goal setting. Ella and Marta encouraged their club youth to follow 4 standards of excellence. The y felt these standards gave youth ben chmarks for achieve ment and helped them to set goals in the club. Not all le aders followed these standards. Regardless of whether youth followed these standards or not, Ella described the importance of encouraging youth to set short term goals and helping youth achieve them. This not only focused their efforts and experiences but also built their self esteem. Set rules and expectations. Leaders described the need for rules and expectati ons for youth. For example, Ella had specific expectations for the completion of projects . Anna had expectations for behavior on her club. Ruby had strict rules on how projects were to be worked on because of safety issues with woodwork ing and the use of the band saw. These rules crea ted structure and order for the clubs , and youth were expected to follow them.
276 Allow learning from mistakes. L eaders expressed that youth needed to fail once in a whi le in order to help them grow. L eaders had to learn to step back and let youth fall down but then help them get back up and learn from their mistakes. E lla described failure as becoming more positive if it helped a young person grow and do better the next time. Marta emphasized the importance of letting youth fail but encouraging them to get back up and try again. Leaders p rovided a number of examples wh e n this happened in their club. viewed as a quality inherent in the 4 H club because of the support of caring adults . Hear the voice of youth. Making sure the voice of youth was heard was a reoccurring theme and woven into many stories and experiences shared by lead ers. Leaders wanted feed back from youth on club ac tivities and club decisions. Although leaders spoke about the importance of involving the whole club in maki ng club decisions always feasib le. C lub officers were often the main conduit for getting feedback from the club. Club officers provided ideas and suggestions for club ac tivities and helped plan them. Leaders generally felt getting feedback from club officers was critical in guiding the club and keeping youth interested. Leaders felt club officers knew the club and what most would prefer to do . Plus , other youth looked up to the club o fficers. Let youth guide their learning . Leaders provided many examples where club youth were guiding the ir own learning . L eader may have initiated an activity, but youth seemed to take over on ce a leader stepped back. For example, y outh were involved in teaching their own workshops such as a showmanship workshop for livestock projects , bicycle safety works hops in the community, a leadership class for the club, and a bug
277 camp for other youth. Youth were also described as developing their own study materials or games to prepare themselves for a competitive event. Other youth researched their own topics so the y could do a demonstration or ta lk at the club or higher level. In a number of clubs, youth were very involved in the planning and leading led these events. Leaders believe d youth m ade their own choices and guided their own learning in these experiences. Leaders described how youth often made their own choices and decisions about solving a problem. Anna felt this hey were a part of Ma rta pointed out that youth who made their own choices as to what they wanted to do in the club often held higher levels of engagement in the project or activity . Letting youth make their own choices was viewed as very im portant in order to keep youth inter ested and coming back to the club . Anna also emphasized that children needed opportunities where they were free to use their imagin ation in the learning process. She described how youth used their imagination in setting up a shelter or tent . Ella talked ab out the games and displays c reated by the imagination of youth in her club. This created a sense of real accomplishment for youth Foster ownership and responsibility . Eve encouraged youth to take ownership of a project and be responsible for it. This was i mportant in order for the youth to get the mo st benefit out of the project. This was particularly important for livestock projects because of the animals invo lved. Create variety in the learning setting. Ella described the need to vary the locations of mee tings and what happen ed at the meetings. She felt this kept the youth
278 trips to the beach, aquariums, and to local parks. This kept the parents interested too. O ther lea ders did this as well. Anna held hiking and camping trips for her club. Eve too k her forest ecology team for hike s in the woods to learn about the forest habitat. Choose appropriate activities. Leaders all wanted to find activities that were fun, interacti ve , and hands on, but they al so described a number of other criteria for selecting activities to do with their club. Ella stated that if you wanted youth to learn anything from an activity, there had to be an element of fun in it. Eve also wanted activitie s and projects to be fun and interesting , not just f or youth, but for her as the teacher. Eve also wanted activities to fit into the time frame she had for her club meetings. Leaders wanted activities to match the needs and abilities of the club members, t hat is, challenging in a club with mixed ages. Marta , too , wanted to find activities that might be of intere st to all ages in her club. Some clubs had youth with special needs. Leaders often lo oked for activities they could adapt created a challenge for leaders in finding the right activities to help their youth learn about a topic , as well as practice some appropriate skills for the age. Reward and recognize youth. Recognizing youth for their achievement has been a major practice of the 4 H organization for years. Leaders talked about how this practice influenced learning. Even though Ella cautioned parents about focusing on the trophy, she felt yout h gained confidence and self esteem when they received an award. Eve described how providing rewards for achievement, such as a piece of handmade clothing, created aspirations to reach certain club goals.
279 Describing Experiential Learning Components Leaders all seeme d to understand the concept of learn by doing. They described the process as involving a hands on experience, when the learner was actually doing something and not just watching someone do something. Marta illustrated this by saying s not going to raise itself. It A person must l earn how to do these things . Anna felt learn by doing something. Eve described this process as helping to build confidence in a young person. by doing led to success and this led to a sense of accomplishment , which in turn built confidence in the young person. When each leader was shown a picture of the experiential learning model , most were familiar with it or least had heard of it. Ruby was the only one who could not recall eve r seeing a picture of the actual model. When asked to describe what e xperiential learning meant to them, Ella described i hands on experience is, you had to do it in order to learn it. ing Anna felt it involved guiding youth through an experience that the leader herself might have had. When asked to describe the steps in the model, leaders usually illustrat ed the steps by describing a situation. For example, Ruby gave a simple description where a club member baked stuffed shells at home, talked about what she did at a club meeting, then went back home and made the dish agai n for another event . Ella described youth as b uilding nesting boxes for birds, then sharing with others what they d id. Afterward , t he youth p repared an illustrated talk , and presented it to other people. Marta described
280 a bicycle wo rkshop her youth did for the community . Marta felt that what they taught others about bicycle safety could apply to their own bike riding practices. An na h ad difficulty putting the experiential learning steps into an actual club experience, but she T he role of the leader in each of these different examples was not always clear. L eader s view ed the learning process more in terms of the actions of youth and not necessarily a process they guided with questions . Leaders were asked to describe the individual components of the experiential learning model in their own words and then provide examples of these in the different l earning venues. C oncrete experience s Co ncrete experiences were greatly evident in the club stories shared by leaders. Leaders described a concret e experience by giving multiple examples, such as a going on a field trip in the woods, building a birdhouse, s ewing a quilt, using a band saw to cut wood pieces , baking a dish, putting together games or display boards, or dressing up as a clown. It or was Ella described an activity where youth used their hands to create an object out of clay related to something they liked to do. Marta felt a concrete experience was not only the action of giving a talk or demonstration, but it also started with the process of preparing for it. Ella felt concrete experiences could be done as a series of experiences that were linked together in some way and for similar purposes. Concrete experiences were viewed as being initiated by both lea ders and the youth themselves. Community service provided youth with opport unities for hands on experiences. Some clubs did a community service activity during a club meeting , while other clubs performed the actual service in the community. e club meet youth put together portable first aid
281 kits for a charitable organization during meetings. An for veterans in their community families. sing homes. In community service experiences youth often worked c ollaboratively , sort ed or put things together, engaged their multiple senses, solved problems , and set goals to reach. The context of each community service presented different leve ls of enga gement for the youth. Leaders expressed their desire to provide leadership experiences for youth in their clubs. Youth leadership experiences we re evident in many activit ies. Youth who took on leadershi p roles in clubs often had a strong er voice in club de cisions. Youth in leadership roles were often viewed as g uiding their own learning through le adership activities. Youth who were in leadership roles also provided leadership roles for others on their team. Mentoring or teaching others was viewed as a way t o gain leadership skills . Club youth sometimes attended 4 H Leg and CWA. These provided additional hands on and collaborative learnin Leaders described l eadership experiences as often taking youth beyond their comfort zone , because it placed them in a new situation th at often challenged them. Ella viewed leadership as a great way to learn f The experiences described by leaders o ften shared many common features. E xperiences often engaged the wh ole pers on their body, their mind, and even their emotions . Experiences were set in a context or place, such as a room, a beach, a forest, or museum. There was some type of interaction between the learner and their environment. Material objects were ofte n involved, such animals, artifacts of nature, equip ment, fabric, or food products. There was also a sense of structure, or order,
282 within these experiences. Learning experiences in 4 H were often described as moving youth beyond their comfort zone and chal lenging them to do things they would not normally do. The experiences that leaders described also seemed to possess structure or design elements that fit rogram 48). How this typology relat es to experiential learning practice and to the quality of the experience s described by leaders, will be disc ussed in Chapter 5 . Re flection S ocial interactions . The p hase of reflection was often described as happening when youth were able to share what the y learned with other club members during informal during social interactions . These social interactions took place within the club or afte r club related activities . For the most part, the leaders did not describe themselves as gui ding these conversations. For example, Marta d escribed reflection as happening after a livestock judging event when youth shared their stories with each other as a group . often happened when youth talked among themselves about things t hat happened in a recent experience they shared . W leadership and civ ic engagement experiences, they often shared w hat they learned with the club. Anna also believed her club reflected as a group through an end of the year get toge ther . T alks and demonstrations . Leaders often encouraged youth to stand up and speak in front of others at meetings or in other situations . According to the leaders in the study, s peaking in front of others was not only considered a n experience for youth, but was also viewed as a form of reflection. Giving a talk or presentation was also an opportunity for youth to s hare what they learned about a project or activity, publicly with
283 others. A talk might have been somet hing as simple as standing up during club roll call and saying a couple sentences about a favorite color or something that was more formal and competitive. More formal t alks and demonstrations were usually project related and involved more thinking and preparation because of the competitive nature. A formal presentation might have involved creating trifold display boards or a putting together a PowerPoint presentation. If these talks were done at count y , district, or state level, they were judged and more effort went into t hem. Some leaders felt that reflection and sharing also occurred when judges at the event provided youth with some feedback about their talk, especially if there was an opportunity for a question and answer session. Youth were encouraged to listen to the c omments from the judges and use them to improve their presen tations the next time. Sometimes reflection happened later in a club meeting after these experiences took pla ce. Thus , club meetings not only helped youth gain confidence and practice speaking ski lls, but allowed them to share their ideas and learning. P roject books and reports . A nother important t ime for reflection happened near the end of the 4 H year. Although leaders expressed that they tried to get youth to work on their project book pages thr oughout the year , and after an actual activity, but this was often difficult. As a result, most proj ect books , reports/records and project stories , were completed during the last meetings of the club year. These project repor ts gave youth an opportunity to look back over the year, gather their thoughts, and write down what they did and learned. These reports contained reflection type questions that youth were expected to answer. Leaders viewed these documents, especially the p roject report and the project story , as important reflective
284 components for the youth. These reports not only provided opportunities for youth to reflect on their project experiences but also on community service, leadership, and any civic engagement exper iences they may have had over the year . For example, Ella believed that end of the year project reports were important tools to help youth reflect and look back at the year and even into the next year as to what they might want to do . Project stor ies were especially viewed as critical pieces for reflection, because they allowed youth to tell their story about their projects. Proj ect stories were more personal. Leaders indicated youth liked completing the project storie s more than the pr oject books. P roject words. Leader guided reflection. Although leaders did not describe themselves as typically leading or guiding a reflection phase, the interviews reveal ed there were times when leaders guided or at least asked youth questions about things they did. Marta to help club youth remember past project a ctivities. She often did this at the end of the year to help youth complete their project books , reports, and stories. This activity seemed to spark ideas and thoughts ideas might even trigger ideas in another youth. Marta also felt there was value in waiting to reflect until the end of the year. This gave youth more tim e to think about their own experiences , instead of doing so right after an activity. Eve had her livestock youth provide updates on their project at club meetings through small group reports. This gave her a chance to ask questions. Anna felt reflection oc curred during campouts. She asked each child to stand up around the
285 campfire and talk about something they learned, liked, or enjoyed doing while at ca mp. She called this and not reflection because her club was compose d of younger members. Rub y asked youth to stand in front of the club and describe how they made something. She also felt this was a way for them to reflect. Eve often reflected with her senior club officers at the beginning of the year. They reflected on the previous year in order to help them plan the coming year. Eve felt reflection was easier with her forest ecology team because they were used to sitting in a circle and talking as a group about things related to the contest. Constraints on reflection . Leaders felt youth often ha d a difficult time just sitting in a circle and talking about how so mething went. Thus, the phase of reflection was , Most people Eve a lso admitted her club did not usually have a set time to talk about an event they did. Anna wanted reflection to be an ongoing and sponta neous process , and not locked in to a specific time frame or sequence. She felt this encouraged more open discussion whe re youth felt they could come to her anytime and talk about something. A pplication of learning L eader s often spoke of how youth built on their learning from past experiences in another project, demon stration or talk, c ommunity service project, or a competi tive event. However, t he experiential learning phase of application was generally not viewed as a guided discussion led by the leader. Instead, the application of learning was often described as occurring when youth applied skills and/or knowledge they had learned in 4 H to another experience. For example, Anna described how her club practiced skills related to hiking and campin g at club meetings. They later applied or practiced these
286 skills more by going on a camping trip somewhere. Each skill they practic ed was then applied at a later time in another situation. In projects . The application of learning in projects happened in different ways. Ruby viewed that youth applied learning when they learned how to make a certain dish in a club meeting and then made the dish again for the fair. Marta described th e application of learning as taking what one learned and making the next project better. This idea was expanded by other leaders when they described the impact of multi year projects on learning. Y outh got m or e deeply involved in a certain project as time went on and gained more skills. This was especially true in livestock projects, sewing projects, and outdoor projects. For example, Eve described how youth struggled in showing their animals the first year, b ut they improved their efforts over time. Eve described how multi year projects helped youth to build on what they learned the previous year . Y outh took what they learned to the next level the following year a nd learned about the breeding, reproduction, an several years by youth. Youth learned the basics of sewing in the beginning , but as their skills grew over the years, they were able to make their own prom dresses. Leaders also described th at youth applied previous learning in their project demonstrations and talks they presented . Thus, one experience lived on i n other experiences. Through t alks or teaching . Some leaders described that youth also applied what they learned by giving an illust rated talk or demonstration . Thus, teaching others Eve felt these venues o ffered youth an opportunity to apply what they learned in a project to another level.
287 In community servic e. Some leaders felt that what on e learned in the club could also be applied to a community service the club engaged in. Ella described how her youth used sewing skills to sew little bear outfits for needy children. Other youth used cake decorating skills for a commu nity service at a loca l church. In leadership. L eadership and civic engagement experiences at the state and national levels helped youth learn how to lead others. The leaders in the study felt that leadership skills were developed over tim e and that youth had op portunities to a pply these skills as t hey moved up in leadership levels . What they learned wa s then brought back to club meetings and not only shared , but also applied at the club level . In these leaders hip roles, youth were also teaching others, thus applying their skill s that way. Leaders felt that those youth who got involved in leadership and civic engagement experiences through 4 H, could apply these skills even later in life. In other parts of life. Anna described that her club youth applied what they learned in club meetings to campouts with t he club or with family members. Leaders generally felt that applying learning was not always easy to see and that youth were m ore likely to apply learning at later time in the project or later in the life of the youth, perhaps i n their career. Leaders described how youth might use their writing skills to complete college applications, use their study skills to prepare for college tests, use their speaking skills to talk in front of other college students, or use their project ski lls in a career they went into . int o fruition , to help them.
288 Constraints . A numbe r of the leaders expressed they had difficulty seeing application or know ing how to address it in a club meeting. Tr ying to incorporate the phase into a mee ting was difficult due to t ime constraints. Identifying Experiential Learning Pathways Multiple components and pathways were described by leaders in the interviews Figure 4 1 lists different examples of each of the experiential learning components based on the stories, descriptions, and beliefs of the leaders in the interviews. Arrows provide possible pathways for experiential learni ng based on the different venues or activit ies youth were involved in. For example , the following experiential learning pathway was described by Anna for the : 1) E xperience y outh learn how to put up a tent, build a fire, or pack for a hike; 2) R eflection y outh write their project story for their end of the year report ; and 3) Application m entor or teach others in club the skills at another time. Marta described this experiential learning pathway as part of the club s cooking project : 1) Experience l earning how to make a certain food dish ; 2) Reflection s hare what youth did during club meeting ; and 3) Application r emake dish for another situation/fair . Here is an example from Eve for her livestock projects: 1) Experience c aring for a hog or other livestock animal d uring project ; 2) Reflection f eedback from judges at the fair; and 3) Application y outh t eaching livestock judging/ showmanship workshops. Variations in these pathways and the types of experiences involved were evident. The timeline for when these phase s occurred seem to vary as well. These experiential learning pathways will be further discussed in Chapter 5.
289 Challenges for Leaders and Learning Leaders identified a number of challenges they fac ed as leaders. O nly those that seem ed to influence the le arn ing processes in the club have been identified below. Time c onstraints . T ime constraints within the meetings influenced whether additional activi ties, beyond the business meeting, took place . T ime constraints were viewed as limiting reflection and possible application of learning opportunities. Time constraints in other club activities, such as community service , also limited reflection opportunities for youth. Parents and youth often left right after an activity, thus preventing time for any group reflecti on. Youth preferences. Leaders expressed youth often had a hard time sitting and Finding hands on activities. Depending on the topic being covered, leaders expressed that f in ding suitable hands on activities was a challenge at times. Although mor e current 4 H project books integrate experie ntial learning approaches into the mate rials, older materials might not. Meeting the needs of all you th . Meeting the learning needs of all y outh in the club wa s difficult, e specially in those clubs comprised of wide range of ages, special needs, and learning interests. Leaders had to find activities suitable for all members or find ones that could be adapted. If the club was comprised of a majority of young memb ers, older youth might lose interest unless t heir age needs were met. Schooling platforms. were a mix of traditional schooled youth and homeschooled youth. Scheduling daytime activities was difficult for youth that went to traditional school , but less so for homeschool youth. Project work was often viewed as being on top of school work whereas homeschooled youth in the clubs used the
290 project materials and activities as part o f their homeschool curriculum. This created different levels of moti vation or engagement of youth within some clubs. Completing project books. Leaders described some frustration in getting youth to see the value in completing project books. One leader expressed that after activities were done, less Getting them to sit down and do the writing was viewed as challenging. Recruiting hel p. Finding and recruiting a suitable p roject leader for a project was at times challenging. This determine d what projects the club could do. Key Thoughts about Interview and Future Training s The leaders indicated the interview process was helpful for them. The interviews helped Ella and Marta to think more about the model, especially reflection and application phases. Marta felt she had been doing experiential activities all along , but did not reali for learning. Eve wanted to learn how others v iewed learning in the club and the experiential learning model. Anna felt the i nterviews helped her to reflect about her club and her own teachi ng practices. She expressed that she never reall y had a chance to do th is before. T he interviews also helped her to understand the model more , and the important r ole she played in the process. The l eaders provided a number of key ideas about what to address in future trainings for 4 H v olunteers. These ideas may help leaders better integrate the experiential learning model into the club. These suggestions help form the basis for a set of recommendations in Chapter 5. Some leaders indicat ed they were not even thinking of the experiential learning model when they did activit ies with the club. The idea of reflecting was not on the mind of a leader after an activity.
291 Interviews helped some leaders rethi nk the model and how they influenced the learning process. L eaders expressed the need to reflect on their own practices and to be a ble to talk to, s hare stories with, and discuss club practices with other leaders. They felt this would help them grow as leaders. Leader s enjoyed hands on training , wanted more opportunities , and closer to where they liv ed. Some counties offered training opportunities at monthly leader meetings in the counties, while others less so . Leaders wan ted to learn like youth. If leaders had a chance to build a rocket just like the youth, the experience would help them see learning from the same perspective as the youth. Leaders wanted help in how to use the model correctly in different si tuations, not just in projects. Leaders share d some different ideas about reflection. W aiting until later to reflect on something was better because youth then have more time to think about wha t they did. R eflection/sharing should be open or unstructured and at any time so that youth feel they can talk and share their thoughts more freely. Y ounger ages campouts. Leaders often described application in terms of learned skills being applied at a later time. Leaders wanted to know how to facilitate and/or observe the appli cation of learning . Leaders provided their thoughts on when and where the application of learning seemed to happen. But d o other leaders know what to look for? Chapter Summary Chapter 4 presented the findings of the study based on the research questions. F ive leaders were selected based on a set of criteria . Phenomenological interviews recorded their perceptions , beliefs, and lived experiences related to experiential learning in their clubs . Findings identified a number o f major themes and patterns. These w ere presented in two sections in this chapter. The first section described each leader and explored her beliefs and perceptions about experiential learning in the club. Th e second section of this chapter provided a more composite view of the leaders and th e findings.
292 The findings identified both perceptions and possible misperception about the model. Findings uncovered the inconsistencies in their training in experiential learning , their views on the experiential learning model, and how they perceived the d ifferent phases of t he model as occurring in the different learning venues of the clubs. Findings also revealed their beliefs about the connections club learning had with the structure, culture, and social setting of the club. Chapter 5 will present the ke y findings from the study, connect findings to theory and practice , present conceptual pathways of experiential learning as perceived by leaders, new conceptual models, and discuss possible implications for future practice and research in 4 H and experient ial learning .
293 Table 4 1. Overview of 4 H c lub leaders used in the study . Leader Ella Ruby Marta Anna Eve Years as leader 10 31 20 5 6 Role in club organizational leader organizational and project leader organizational leader organizational and project leader organizational and project leader/coach Location semi urban, rural urban rural rural rural/small town Club enrollment 12 17 28 28 31 Cloverbuds 2 3 8 14 3 Juniors 3 4 6 6 10 Intermediates 5 7 5 4 6 Seniors 2 3 9 4 12 C lub type community cl ub community club community club community club community club, forest ecology team Youth homeschool and traditional schools homeschool and traditional schools homeschool and traditional schools homeschool and traditional schools homeschool and traditio nal schools Project areas marine science forest ecology citrus, speech, sewing, robotics, clowning sewing, food and nutrition, leisure arts, woodworking gardening, fishing, Discovering 4 H, livestock hiking, camping, fishing, first aid, consumer choices, astronomy livestock, forest ecology, sewing, cooking, crafts, entomology Meeting location extension office community center home of leader extension office home of leader elementary school Community service yes/in community yes/in club meeting s yes/in club meetings yes/in community yes/in club meetings Civic engagement yes yes yes yes yes Leadership yes yes yes yes yes Competitions/Fair yes yes yes yes yes
294 Figure 4 1. Examples of EL components and pathways as perceived by club leader s.
295 CHAPTER 5 SUMMARY AND DISCUSSION Introduction The purpose of this study was to explore experiential learning in Florida 4 H community clubs through the perceptions, beliefs, and lived experiences of five adult club leaders . This study investigated ho w leaders viewed and described experiential learning components and processes in the club. This st udy also sought to generate new ideas and conceptual models on experiential learning pathways in the club as perceived by these five 4 H club leaders. The stu dy was based on the following research question : How do leaders perceive and describe experiential learning in the 4 H club? Six questions guided the study . How do club leaders come to know or lea rn about experiential learning? 1. How do club leaders view t heir educational role in t he club and in the EL 2. process? How do club leaders describe th e EL Model and its components? 3. How do club leaders describe their experiences using EL a pproaches with club 4. youth? How do club leaders perceive that y outh learn through EL proc esses? 5. How can possible EL pathways be described and illustrated? 6. Through a series of interviews with each leader, the study revealed a more complex picture of experie ntial learning in the 4 H club beyond the model currently fostered in the 4 H pro gram. Leaders interviewed in the study had similar patterns of club organization and structur e based on 4 H club guidelines but represented a diver se range of personal backgrounds and club experiences . Although leaders may not have had much training in usi ng the model, they were able to describe th eir club experiences with experiential learning components in mind.
296 This chapter connect s the key findings of the study to EL practice and theory. New conceptual pathways and models for experiential learning in th e 4 H club are presented. Recommendations for practice and Implications for futu re research and practice are also tial learning will be revealed. Summary of Key Findings Leaders in the study were very p assionate and dedicated to the 4 H program. Each leader expressed a great deal of pride for her club and exhibited a great deal of professionalism in the management of the club and youth members. Leaders expressed the value and benefits of being involved i n 4 H, not just for their own children , but for the mselves as leaders. Some leaders expr essed the desire to continue in assisting with 4 H even after their own children had grown up and left 4 H. Club leaders viewed their role in a variety of ways. They de scribed themselves as guides, teachers, mentors, mediators, role models, collaborators, coaches, and even co learner s. They saw themselves as supportive, caring adult s , and often expressed how they encoura g ed club youth to keep trying . Some leaders viewed their role as mentoring and guiding adult project leaders and even parents. The role they played in the club at any given time seemed dependent on the context of the situation and ages of youth involved. Previous training in exp eriential learning processes were not consistent among leaders in the study . Most could not recall a specific training on EL. Most leaders indicated they wan ted hands on training opportunities of value to them and closer to their own c ounty. Leaders wanted opportunities to share and reflect on their club
297 practices with other leaders. Experiential learning seemed to also play a role in their own growth as leaders L eaders viewed experiential learning practices and processes as taking place, but not necessarily the way the model has been present ed in the 4 H literature . Leaders described many examples of concrete experiences, and felt there were reflection and application o pportunities built into club activities and events . Altho ugh these leaders provided many wonderful stories of youth l earning in their clubs, they did not see m to see themselves as guiding the experiential learning process . At least one leader indicated that the EL model was not on her mind during club activities . The experiential learning process seemed to be influe nced by learning environment. This included the social inter action and relationships of youth; their ages, stages, and interests; the club l structure for meetings and project s; the interests and involvement of parents and adult project help ers; and the leaders background and interests . Thus, l eaders described learning more in terms of happening through the structure, culture, and the social nature of 4 H. Leaders described that the social and supportive environment of the 4 H club enhanced how l earning occurred. Clubs provided youth with the confidence to try new things and thus, move beyond their comfort zone . The group community fostered discussion and collaboration s, created role models for younger members, and offered mentoring opportuni ties. Leaders described a number of approaches or learning strategies they fostered in the club . They encouraged club youth to set goals , have a voice in planning club program s , guide their own learning , and to learn from their mi stakes. These processes we re viewed as helping youth to learn and grow.
298 Revisiting the Role and Needs of Leaders Role in learning process . The 4 H program has relied upon club leaders to guide the experiential learning process in order to help youth learn life skills and subject ma tter content (Carlson & Maxa, 1998; Diem, 2001; Norman & Jordan, 2009). In experiential learning, the educator steps back from the position of external boss or authority, but takes on the role of leader or guide for group activities (Dewey, 1938 ) . For best learning potential the club leader has been expected to ask appropriate questions during the process. Carver (1996) described four pedagogical principles of experiential learning. Activities and the consequences of these activities are authentic and relev ant to the learner. Youth are actively engaged in the process of learning, both mentally and physically. Youth are guided through the process of learning in order to build a better understanding of what they experienced. Mechanisms are in place to help you th connect the experience to future situations . Most of these principles seemed present in the club experiences described by the leaders. Club youth were actively engaged in relevant and authentic experiences within the club. There were mechanisms in place where youth could connect their current experiences to future experiences, such as competitive events, other projects, community service, and leadership activities. However, the third principle, where youth are guided through the process of learning, was not as well described by leaders in the study. For the most part, l eaders did not describe their role in terms of The model may not have been on their mind. They facilitated or initia ted hands on learning experiences with
299 youth , but a guided reflection or application phase usually did not occurr right after the experience. Leaders described there were time constraints or other issues that limited their role in these phases. As experien tial educators. Experiential educators have been described as changing parameters for learning (Smith & Leeming, 2009). As educators for the club, leaders also have the ability to adjust p arameters on activities and provide a perceived need for youth to change. Although the 4 H club leaders in the study had limited training in experiential learning practices, they described their role in the club a s guide, supporter, co learner, co ach, mentor, and teacher . Fostering their role as experiential educators may benefit the 4 H program. Reflection for leaders . classroom educators (Wallace & Oliver, 2003). Darling Hammond an d McLaughlin (2 011) found that educators need to have opportunities to co llaborate with other educators and share what they see and know. They also emphasized that professional development opportunities need to encourage educators to be both teacher and le arner in order to increase their understanding of pedagogy. A study by McGlinn (2010) found that opportunities for reflection had a profound impact on learning in student teachers. McGlinn emphasized that these student teachers used reflection to evaluate and learn from their own experiences. Brookfield (1995) emphasized that adult educators needed to have opportunities to look back, reflect on, and analyze their own experiences before asking youth to do the same.
300 Leaders, too, expressed the need to reflect on the ir own practices . They wanted to share their experiences with ot her leaders and learn from them. Enfield (2001) believed if 4 H club leaders received more extensive training in experiential learning and had opportunities to reflect on their own prac tices, they could overcome their prior beliefs about traditional teaching and change to more experiential approaches in the club. Having these same opportunities for reflection may help 4 H leaders gr ow as leaders. They may gain a better understanding of t heir own educ ational approaches in the club and be better able to integrate reflection after club activities. The Influence of the Learning Environment Roberts (2003) emphasized that educators conducting experiential learning activities need to recognize e lements of the learning environment that help create ex periences that lead to growth. Boud, Keough, and Walker (1996) expressed that those who facilitate experiential learning needed to provide or create an environment of trust, integrity, authenticity, an d respect and provide patience for learners. Leaders in the study seemed to recognize the importance of building these attributes of a caring environment into the club in order for it to be successful in helping youth learn and grow. The study also reveale d strong connections between learning and the social context of the 4 Learning t hrough Social Constructivism Constructivist learning theorie s view the learner as being an active agent or change agent in their own learnin g or formation of knowledge (DeL ay, 1996). Leaders expressed many times how youth directed their own learning or took their own initiative to complete a project or task. The construction of knowledge also develops within a cultural and social context (DeLay, 19 96). Living in a similar culture or group may create
301 a sense of shared constructs or beliefs (DeLay, 1996). This idea was illustrated when demo nstrating less appropriate behaviors. Many theorists and practitioners have proposed that social interaction is critical to the process of learning (Bandura, 1977; Dewey, 1958; Noddings, 1992). Schellenberg (1978) described a group as more than a collectio (p. 79). Jarvis (1987) saw learning as being shaped by a variety of interacting socio cultural factors as the person moved into and out of various social settings and situations. behaviors. When groups of people have relationships within the group that are accepting, this helps to generate a safe atmosphere where people (Cassidy, 2008, p. 282). This atmosphere provides more open communication and expands the learning potential. Again, leaders illustrated this with s tories of how group dynamics influenced individual and group behaviors. Youth mentored other youth, and role model s emerged. Team members worked and learned together to prepare for a competitive event in 4 H. This created a sense of comradery and trust amo ng the group. This often gave youth the confidence to try new things, thus expand their comfort zone. Youth tested their skills in new experiences as a result. Influence of Club Context and political cultural dimensions of the co mmunity in which the individual resides in
302 enmeshed, the vocabulary and cultural beliefs through which the individual makes meaning of the whole situation, and the historical, temporal, and spatial locat ion of the were critical to understanding how learning takes place as part of an experience. Boud and Walker (1991) acknowledged that context shapes This study found that the context and structure of the club played a m ajor role in how youth learned e xperientially. This context involved c lub culture, social relation ships, interests and beliefs of youth , background of club leaders, interest s of project leaders , level s of family involvement, the types and qualities of the projects, community service experiences, club demographics, and the ages and stages of youth. The nature of the experience, such as raising animals, sewing, cooking, and studying marine life or trees, also seemed to influence the cont ext. The leaders provided many examples of how context influenced the learning uth faile d to raise a high quality hog for her first fair, but then saw the hogs of others at the fair and changed her way of thinking. She did a better job of raising a hog for the fair the following year. Anna described how a hike at night got her youth excited t o learn about the stars in the sky . Ruby described how safety issu es with the band saw required more one on one learning in woodworking. The idea that learning processes are not independent from the context in which they occur has been addre ssed by a numbe r of theorists. cultural theory provides that leaning involves a complex interaction between learner s and their externa l environment. The situated learnin g theory (Lave & Wenger, 1991) described learning as occurring through observa tion and participation in a community of practice
303 or social world of the learner. Thus , both of these theories support the idea that leaning is bounded by the context in which it occurs. How context influences the different phases of the experiential learn ing process in 4 H may merit further study. Influence of Project Structure The st ructure of 4 H projects has provided a frame for exper iential learning to occur (Enfield, 2001). Ives and Obenchain (2006) identified three essential elements that experientia l learning curricula should possess. First, the materials should include activities that foster youth directed learning (Druian, Owens, & Owens, 1980). Leaders described how project books provided experiential les sons for youth to complete and that they us ed these project books to guide and plan their club activities for the year. Although 4 H recommends using an experientially based curriculum, not all materials or curricula used in clubs may meet these standards . However, m ost of the leaders interviewed i ndicated they used nationally produced 4 H curricula. These materials are learner centered in approach and based on th e experiential learning cycle. The project books were viewed as learning tools for youth. Most leaders had youth complete at least six act i vities from their project book. Second, the curriculum should connect to the real world and be relevant (Rahm, 2002; Shelton, 2000). Leaders emphasized that youth learned practical skills from project materials and other related experiences in 4 H. They p rovided examples where youth applied their skills and knowledge in other areas of their life, such as in additional projects, club experiences, at home, in school, and even later in their career. Finally, the curriculum should foster critical reflection. C ritical reflection involves the process whereby an individual examines his or her own assumptions underlying their beliefs and behaviors in order to justify their reasons and actions (Brookfield,
304 1995). Critical reflection helps the le arner focus on the co ntent, process, and premise of problem solving (Mezirow, 1990). The use of journals, portfolios, and similar documents has been viewed as providing learners with opportunities to record and reflect on their activitie s and own work (Oosterbaan , Van der Sc ha f, Baartman, & Stokking , 2010). Thus, the 4 H project reports completed at the end of the year allowed youth to look back and reflect on their project and other activit ies accomplished during the club year . Leaders viewed that project stories provided the biggest opp ortunity for reflection because they were more personal. Project books were not examined by the rese archer. Further studies are recommended in order to more closely examine the role project books , reports, and stories play in the club lea rning p rocess, particularly reflection. The structure of m ultiyear projects in 4 H, such as livestock projects , was described as allowing children to build on their learning as they got further into the project levels. Youth c onnected and applied their learning t o their own life by giving illustrated talks, mentoring and teaching others, preparing themselves for competitive events, taking on leadership responsibilities, or doing community service related to a project. Although these experiences may not have been p art of an actual project book, H provides to youth. Revisiting the 4 H Experiential Learning Model Breunig (2005) acknowledged the gaps between pedagogical theories and the actual practice of experient ial education. That is, what is claimed to be experienti al practice may not always be. Breunig (2005) believed that in order for critical pedagogy and experiential education to achieve their co mmo n aim, studies should examine how the practices or str ategie s w ere actually applied. The goal of this study was not to determine whether or not experiential learning existed in 4 H, but to e xamine the self -
305 reported views, beliefs, and experiences of club leaders in relation to experiential learning practices in the ir club. Descriptions and stories shared by leaders about their club experiences reveale d a more complex picture of learning in the club than illustrated by the 4 H EL model. As a result, t his examination uncovered new ideas and perspectives about experien tial learning in the 4 H club that will be further discussed and illustrated. The study also raised new questions about the phenomeno n to consider in future studies . This section revisits the 4 H experiential learning model and re frames it in relation to t he findings of this study. The different components of the model are re addressed through the lens of leaders interviewed in the study . Examining each component of the phenomenon uncovered some interesting revelations with implications for practice. Defin ing the Quality of an E xperience Leaders described that youth experience d an acti vity by performing or doing it. Leaders may select an activity, but they also relied on feedback from youth about their learning interests . Leaders gave many examples of youth involved in concrete, hands the leader to step back and let the youth use their own imagination and ideas to discover things on their own. Le aders described themselves a s guiding youth through an activity by first demonstrating how to do something , but then allowed youth to practice the skill or set of skills on their own. As youth gained more skills and confidence , they initiated more of their own activities . Dewey (1938 ) emphasized that the quality of the experience is important in determining its educational value. An experience should be enjoyable and creative for
306 the learner. This seemed evident in the s tories leaders shared. Dewey (1938) also presented two components that determined the quality of an educational experience the principles of interaction and continuity. Dewey believed a quality experience is the inter action of these two principles. Principle of continuit y. m ry experience both takes up something from those which have gone before and modifies in 27). Kolb (1984) emphasized that the experiential learning process was a reoccurring process. That is, one experience lived on in future ones . This principle was evident in Leaders described how youth learned through previous mistakes and how learning was built on and applied in multiyear p rojects. The idea of continuity has not been well visualized in 4 H literature or in the learning model that has often been shared with leaders. 4) presents an action phase preceded by a expe rience ahead. The focus phase may also help a learner connect past experiences The immediate experience then becomes the focal point for learning and provides more personal meaning to abstract concepts. Adding a focus phase to the 4 H EL model may help leaders see the importance of connecting past experiences of the learner to the current experience by drawing the learner into the activity in a more personal way. Principle of interactio n. The princ iple of inter action involves an interaction between the person and the environment (Dewey, 1938) . This interaction is influenced
307 by the internal conditions of the learner s , such as their perceptions, attitudes, beliefs, habits, prior knowledg e, and emotions (Carver, 19 98) . Leaders in the study described many situations w h ere youth were interacting with elements of the learning environment. The outcomes of these interactions were often different for each child because of the internal conditions within the learner. These interactions occurred as part of club meetings, field trips, project activities, community service activities, leadership events, and competitive events. For example, the outcomes of a livestock experience could be different for different youth because of differences in attitudes, habits, and beliefs about taking care of an animal. Experiential learning program typolog y. Another component of the quality of the experience lie s in the way it is designed or structured. In Chapter 4, club experiences were firs t described as possibly fitting many of 48). This typology a ssist s educators in planning and designing creative e xperiential learning programs. Beard and Wilson ( 2004) described that designing l earning experiences based on a typology cr eate s a sense of bei Beard and Wilson (2004) viewed these elements learning journey . Leaders often des cribed how 4 H experiences involved taking youth to other places, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally , too. In 4 , when they set goals to complete for a project, when they went on field trips, or when they were involved in a competitive event. L earnin g experiences in 4 H were also described as moving youth beyond their comfort zone and challenging them to do things
308 they would not normall y do, such as , speaking in front of others. These design elements are highlighted in the foll owing paragraphs and illustrated with examples provided by the different club leaders . Experiences created a sense of a journey or destination. Some of the leaders took youth o n outings beyond a club meeting. This was especially true of Ella, Anna, and Eve. club on field trips to the beach to learn about marine life. These trips allowed youth to explore beac hes, woods, aquariums, civic engagement and leadership opportunities, other communities and people, Each trip involved a goal or destination and engaged the youth in multiple experiences as p art of their journey. Experiences created a sequence of social, mental, and physical activities. Ella did a series of marine related activities with youth over d youth complete d a series of skills at the sewing machine before going to the next step . Youth first gave ta lks at the club level, then moved up to county, district, and then to state l evels if they were successful. Anna learn ed the steps involved in set ting up and taking down a tent, and how to build a fire. Marta described the livestock planned as a sequence of experiences that involved youth socially, mentally, and physically. Experiences stimulated multiple senses and alter moods. M any experiences senses , such as sight, hearing, touch, and s could see, smell, hear t he ocean, and hold small marine animals in their hands at the beach. looked at and touched leaves, felt the bark of
309 trees, heard and saw dif yo uth hiked at night into a field and identified stars. Anna clearly expressed the excitement of the youth when she described Experiences involved the construction or deconstruction of some thin g. Club youth ha d opportunities to build blue bird nesting boxes, make quilts, clothing, and food dish es. Ella had her youth develop tri fold displays and bingo ga me materials. goody bags for community ser vice. There were also times to deconstruct items , such as taking down tents, taking apart seams, taking down a fair booth, or cleaning up a fter a livestock works hop. Experiences involved collaborative or competitive strategies. Youth often worked collaboratively as a team memb er. As a group or team they worked together to get ready for a stat e competition, on group projects, on club committees, as a member of county council, and in planning community service activities with the club. Youth adult partnerships were also evident i n many of the stories and expe riences shared by the leaders. Experiences involved restrictions, obstacles, rules, and procedures. Many 4 H comp etitive events had rules and guidelines to follow. Club meetings often followed parliamentar y procedures. Leaders set rules, guidelines, and/or expectations for club members. Anna enforc ed a set of guidelines for hiking in the woods. Ruby did not allow youth in the garage to work on their woodworking projects alone. Experiences ofte n involved a perceived risk or chal lenge . This often challenged youth to move beyond their comfort zone. There was a perceived challenge
310 or risk to youth in speaking in front of people. Ella described how her own daughte r felt a sense of intimidation in teaching youth older or taller than h er. Experiences create a sense of empathy toward the environment. El la talked about the series of experiences she did at the beach with the monofilament recycling , and taught youth about conservatio stry team learned about threats to forest habitats. Experiences inv olved setting goals to reach. Club youth are expected to set goals at the beginning o f each year, especially if they follow 4 excellence . Eve talked about the forest ecolog y team and how they had goals and levels to reach in order t o do well in the contest each year. Deal with risk or failure. Youth were allowed to deal with change, risk, and failure. L eaders d escribed situations where youth took a ris k and/or learned a valuable lesson from failure. Marta described the story of the young lady who failed to take care of her hog but much better hog the following year. Sort and organ ize. S kills were used to sort and organize data and activities. Club youth sorted or organized materials for community service projects , when they completed their project reports, or when th ey were getting their talks and demonstrations organized. Thus, th is typology and the role these design elements have in enhancing the learning experiences for youth , merit further investigation . This typology could be presented to leaders in future volunteer training programs.
311 Revisiting R eflection Role of leaders in s har ing and p rocessin g . Enfield (2001) express ed that H experiential learning model , nsists of two distinct phases. The first phase , , happened, their reactions, and observations in a public way. In this study, leaders often described opportunities where youth were able to share an experience wi th others by talking about what they did or what they learned more publicly. Leaders viewed this as happening when youth presented talks at the club level or higher, during casual conversation with other members, when speaking to judges, and when they were involved in teaching others in youth led activities . Leaders often encouraged youth by asking them to stand and share what they learned in front of the club. However, most leaders did not describe themselves as leading this phase by asking additional abou t what they saw, or felt, and how easy or difficult the task was. experience by discussing it, looking back at the experience, and analyzing it. This helps the learner determine what wa s most important and identify common themes (Levings, 2014). This phase of reflection is done best by asking youth appropriate questions at points in the cycle (Enfield, 2001). This help s youth construct meaning from the experience. Questions focus on the steps involved in doing the experience or activity, the problems or issues that came up, and h ow they were solved. Again, leaders did not describe themselves as guiding this process or asking these types of questions. This phase was perhaps the least addre ssed among the leaders.
312 Constraints for true reflection. Dewey (1938) described reflection as the act of thinking about or considering a subject or phenomenon and then connecting it to both tion until obser vation and judg ment have taken place is necessary for purpose to be achieved (Kolb, 1984; Dewey, 1938). That is, a pause in action is important for more meaningful learning to take place. Most leaders indicated guided reflection was not likely to o ccur rig ht after an activity. This was because of time constraints and the difficulty in getting youth to sit still and discuss something. In addition, families often had other places to go after the activities were completed. Thus, the f reflection in the club was not always evident. A number of leaders stated that doing reflection was not on their mind after an activity. Some leaders felt reflection might ha ve occurred at a later meeting where they asked youth questions about their past learning experiences . Yet most believed reflection happened during club activities , such as during social interaction and casual group conversation. in her club. L eader s might be listening, but were not nece ssarily guiding the con versation or asking questions about a past experience . Delaying reflection was also mentioned because youth then had more time to think about the experience. Breunig (2005) pointed out that many practitioners of experiential educatio n may not actually provide adequate time for debriefing, group discussion, or other forms of reflection. Instead, practitioners often ch ose more action a t the expense of reflection. A balance of the two is necessa ry for true learning to happen (Breunig, 20 05). Reflecting on action and reflecting in action . L eaders often described reflec tion as part of another action or experience . For example, when youth gave a
313 presentation in front of others, m ost leaders saw this as a form of refl ection because of the sha ring of lea rning that took place. Thus, an experience and reflection seemed to be co occurring . Reflection was not a passive or pausing of action , as described by Kolb (1984) , but integrated into an ongoing experience. This prompted the researcher to look f or alternative descriptions of reflection in experiential learning. Wallac e and Oliver (2003) described that one could go through reflection on a ction or reflection in action. When one reflects in action , one considers the o f the action whil st p. 246). Donald Schon , whose books include The Reflective Practitioner (1983) and Educating the Reflective Practitioner (1987) , noted that reflection may also occur when individuals take notice and fra m e problems of interest to them and experiment with solutions, or when they experience surprise or d iscomfort in an knowledge may be constructed through their own reflective process during or right after an activity. Schon (1983) descri bed t in Beard and Wilson (2006) described this type of reflection as not necessarily requiring support or c oaching, because it may happen more spontaneously. However, they also felt time constraints ma y limit the depth of reflec tion. T hus , coaching was still preferred for deeper learning. in action with adult profes sionals, the researcher wondered if this process also occur red in the minds of youth as they develo ped and did their presen tations. Did youth reflect in action ? Perhaps reflecting in action occurred for those youth who learned from their mistakes, such as lady discipline issues in teachin g ot her youth, or those youth who were shy or scared to give
314 demonstrations in front of others. Leaders indicated such experiences helped these children to rethink their assumptions and changed the way they viewed these circumstances. The role of reflectio n in action or reflection on action in le arning cycles for 4 H youth me rit s further study. Reflection through project reports. A ll the leaders interviewed viewed project records, reports, and stories as important in helping youth reflect on their club year . This seems to support the claim that the 4 H project structure supports experiential learning (Enfield, 2001). Leaders typically helped youth complete these reports through group and in dividual discussions. These end of year reports submitted by youth we re not examined in this study, yet further review of these documents and their role in experiential learning would be valuable to 4 H. Revisiting the Application of L earning In the 4 H model the application of learning occurs when a leader helps youth conn ect an exp erience to real world examples . Leaders have been expected to ask questions to help youth make these connections. Th is phase consists of two parts g eneralize and apply . However, the leaders interviewed in this study we re only asked to describe what the ph r meant to them. This phase of the model seemed dif ficult for leaders to describe. In the generalize phase, leaders have been expected to help youth connect what they learned from an experience , including any life sk ills practiced, to other parts of their life (Levings, 2014). Although leaders often described themselves as asking the question W hat did you lear n was always described as part of reflection , and not application. On the other hand, there were times in their stories where leaders helped youth make connections between something that was learned
315 from an activity and their lives . For example, leaders encouraged youth to complete reports because of the connection this had to completing t heir college applications. Anna talked to her club about the importance of teamwork and working toge ther to solve issues. Leaders indicated that helping youth see these connections was challenging. In the actual a pplication phase, leaders described how you th actually applied or utilized previous ly learned skills or knowledge in a new sit uation . Although the 4 H literature describes application as a guided phase using specific questions, leaders did not necessarily view this phase as being guided by them . In stead , the application of learning was viewed as happening in another experience that youth might be engaged in and not necessarily Some leaders felt that helping youth apply learning right after an a ctivity was hard to do . Leaders may need guidance and training in providing appropriate questions and scenarios that help youth connect their learning from specific situations to future ones. Leaders need to see how the application of learning can be guide d for deeper learning. New Pers p e ctives on the 4 H Experiential Learning Model Converging and overlapping phases . Based on the descriptions and stories that leaders provided, the distinctions between the different phases of the model were not always clear . Phases at times seemed to overlap or converge in descriptions given by leaders. That is, an experience , reflection, and application phase , at times overlapped in the stories. For example, engaging in an experience , such as preparing for and giving a talk or demonstration, was also viewed as a way for youth to both share and to apply something they learned with others . This convergence of the phases made the researcher think about the boundaries of each stage of the EL model and how they have been defined.
316 Scope and duration of p rocess . T he scope and duration of the experiential learning process occurred at various levels and in different timelines in clubs . Leaders descri bed experiential learning as taking place during a club activity, an entire y ear, or ov er a number of years. There might be multiple experiences before an actual reflection took p lace, or reflection happened at the very end of the year when the club members co mpleted their project reports. A number of leaders felt they did not see the whole cycle come to fruition until years later when the youth returned from co llege and told them how 4 H benefitted them . learning. tial learning as occurring from a a child built a fire for the first time. Ella described how her daughter realized she had made a mistake during a club activity and knew what to do next time. Joplin (1981) also expressed that e xperiential learning could occur at the level as a result of an entire set of learning experiences or as part of a bigger curriculum in an entire program. This means the EL cycle may ta ke a y ear or years to complete. Eve shared how multi year projects helped youth to build on their previous skills and H speaking skills in her college classes. Other leaders described how youth went into certain careers because of what they learned in 4 H. Although leaders could not always articulate how the phases of the model were involved, they could describe the impa cts that club le youth.
317 T he current 4 H model illustrates experiential learning from the pers pective of a particular activity. The model does not seem to indicate a time frame for the process to occur or that a context is involved. Promoting awareness that experiential learning may occur at mul ti ple levels or timelines may give more flexibility in helping lea ders integrate the experiential learning mo del and in understanding how it helps youth learn. Describing Conceptual Experiential Learning Pathways The 4 H model typically illustrates experie ntial learning as happening through a circular series of steps or processes (Levings, 2014; Norman & Jordan, 2009). The model does not seem to make a connection to the context of the learning environment where it takes place. Jarvis (1987) saw this as trea Figures 5 1 to 5 6 illustrate possible EL pathways in different club venues. These pathways are purely conceptual and based on descriptions and the perce ptions provided by leaders in the study. Figure 5 learning pathways in her marine science projects . Figure 5 2 illustrates a possible experiential learning pathway in sewing projects as perceived by Ruby. Figure 5 3 illustrates exper iential learning pathways in outdoor projects . Eve described how experiential learning occurred in multi year livestock projects (Figure 5 4). Ella described experiential learning pathways in a community service project in which her club you th were engaged (Figure 5 5). Anna described how leadership activities and events involved experiential learning (Figure 5 6 ). Each of these pathway s illustrates variation in the different components of the experiential learni ng process (do, reflect, and apply) and how they occur . There are different time frame s , sequence s , and context s involved in each pathway. Each experiential learning pathway presented
318 seems unique to the club situation in which it occurs. The extent to whi ch these perceived pa thways follow or do not follow the current 4 H model will require furt her investigation through first hand observations , examination of 4 H club reports, and interviews with youth, as well as more club leaders. Describing New Conceptual EL M odel s Leaders described a very complex picture of learning in the club. This study generated a number of new ideas and perspectives on experiential learning in the 4 H club. Figures 5 7 and 5 8 illustrate new ideas for conceptual EL models based on th e findings of this study. The two m odel s illustrate that experiential learning happ ens in d ifferent timelines; that learning takes place within a context, culture, and structure ; that experi ences can build on one another; and that multiple pathways for lea rning may exist . These factors all interact and can influence how learning occurs. These alternative models may foster further discussi on and provide new perspectives on how experiential learning processes are taking place in 4 H clubs. Youth guided model . Figure 5 7 depicts a revised 4 H model that illustrates the phases of experien tial learning club members experience as perceived by the leaders in the study . Th is model includes a connection to context, timeline, and continuity. The model lies within the social context, culture, structure, and supportive learning environ ment created by the leader and club setting . Youth have opportunities to build on their learning from previous experiences and apply this learning in new experiences , both inside and outsid e of the 4 H club context. Youth may also share what they learned on a public level through social interactions during activities and when they give their talks and demo nstrations at club, county, and/or state levels could also b e viewed as learning ,
319 the study . The dotted lines surrounding the reflect and generalize circles indicate these phases may not occur as easily without the leader s help. Perhaps future 4 H volunteer training programs can address how club leaders may better integrate these two important phases of experiential learning into club meetings . Leader guided mode l. Figure 5 8 illustrates an experiential learning model from a leader s perspective and describes the phases in ter ms of her role in the learning process. T he role of the leader now lies within the model. Again, the model includes a connection to con text, time , and continuity. Dotted arrows and circles indicate possible gaps or weaknesses in these pha ses as indicated by the findings of this study. The model starts with focus phas e , where the to the upcoming experience and directs the attention of the learner to this new learning opportunity . phase was often evident in the stories shared by the leaders in the study. Leaders often described ting youth take over and complete the rest of the activity. Leaders in the study talked about the many opportunities youth had in 4 H to share and talk about things they learned. This often happened as a result of social interactions among club members and when they gave talks and demonstrations in front of others , whether i n the club or at a more public level . Although reflection was often viewed as happening in end of the year project reports and stories, reflection during club meetings or after activities often did not occur , Thus, the dotted circle around the ion phase represent s possible areas where there are weaknesses or gaps in the learning process. Leaders may need additional training
320 in how to help youth pause their actions and reflect as a group during meetings, after activiti es, in project books and in end of year reports and stories . L eaders described situations where they tr ied to help club youth connect a learning experience to their life or giving real world examples of its importance . L eaders also expressed having difficu lty making these connections at times or knowing what to say . , because of the inherent need for leaders to guide this phase. youth an d not necessarily a leader guided phase . L eaders again expresse d difficulty in guiding this phase , yet they were able to give numerous examples of how youth might apply their learning in other experiences . T hus, leaders may need additional training in ho w to best guide the application phase of the experiential learning model . This revised model is not meant to replace the experiential learnin g model 4 H currently uses. I nstead , it offers new perspectives on how experiential learning processes may be work ing (or not working) at the 4 H club level. Additional training of volunteer leaders and further studies may shed more lig ht on these learning processes. Implications and Recommendations for Practice Most leaders indicated they enjoyed attending volunteer trainings , as long as they were beneficial and valuable for the m as leaders. Having training opportunities at the local level was preferred. Leaders liked having face to face trainings . However, this study found that club l eaders may have training needs th at go beyond the nuts and bolts of being a leader. Leaders indicated they had a real desire to inspire and help young people learn and grow. This requires their own growth as learners, leaders, and
321 educators. Based on the findings of this study, the foll ow ing recommendations are offered for inclusion in 4 H volunteer training programs. Offer more training close to home . Leaders enjoyed hands on training and wante d more opportunities , but close r to where they lived . Monthly lead er meetings were described as desirable f or c ounty level training. Additional training could be offered at the district level. Foster importance of EL . This will require more effort by the 4 H program to include experiential learning as part of current and future volunteer training pro grams. Trainings should help leaders see first hand why following the EL model is impo rtant for optimal learning in youth . Agents can play an important r ole by providing appropriate training opportunities. C ounty agents will require more training on the EL model , as well. Foste r greater emphasis role in learnin g . Kolb (1984) described that the experiential learning process has been best managed by a skilled facilitator. This facilitator helps the learner process the information gained from an exp erience to a deeper level (Carlson & Maxa, 1998). L eaders in the study described their role as guide, teacher, supporter, and ment or for club youth. However, these leaders did not view themselves as guid ing specific steps of the experiential learning model . The 4 H program could foster gr eater awareness of 4 H leader s as ex periential educators . This may help them better understand their role in guid ing the process and in achieving the best learning outcomes in youth. This may take more emphasis on training volunteers as educators , and not just as club managers. Foster awar eness of the role context plays in learning . Experiential learning does not happen in isolation of the learning environm ent. M os t leaders in the study
322 perceived that the social, cultural, a nd st ructural context of the 4 H club greatly influenced how youth learned . Numerous studies have support ed this idea ( Enfie ld, 2001; Guion & Rivera, 2008; Van H orn, Flanagan & Thomas, 1998) . Training programs should foster an awareness of the role context plays in learning. This may help them rethink or redesign learning experiences with the context in mind. Address b arriers to the learning process e s. The extent to which leaders in the study guided the experienti al learning process was influenced by a numb er of factors. These factors included, but may not be limited t o, a lack of time to ask youth reflective and/or application type questions and a lac k of interest in youth to pause their action and discuss an experience. In addition, leaders did not seem to be aware of the importance of reflection and appl ication in the learning process. Leaders who are aware of these limitations and use effective strategies during these two phases may be able to better integrate these phases in more practical ways. Emphasiz e continuity of experience . The ontinuity of experience or the idea that previous experiences live on in current and future experiences, is a critical component of experiential learning (Dewey, 1938) . The current 4 H experiential learning model does no t illustrate this very well. Integ rating a focus phase where leaders can help youth connect a p ast exper ience to a current experience may help leaders, and even youth, see how learning is a building or constructive process (Figure 5 8 ). Foster reflect ion a mong leader s . Leaders in t he study expressed the need to reflect on their own practices as club leaders. They wanted to share their experiences with othe r leaders and learn from them. The importance of reflection for educators has been described by many in the education and youth development field ( Brookfield,
323 1995; Darling Hammond & McLa ughlin, 2011 ; Enfield, 2001; McGlinn, 2010 ; Wallace & Oliver, 2003 ). Leaders are both l earners and educators. As club educators they need to have opportunities to look back , reflect on, and analyze their own experiences before asking youth to do the same. Having opportunities for reflection may help them grow as club lea ders. They will likely gain a better understanding of best practices for the club and be better equipped t o integrate reflection after club activities. Teach l eaders about EL by using EL processe s . Kon en and Horton (2000) found that a best practice for educator s is to give them the same hands on experience and methodology that their students would experience. This same approach has been used in training teachers in areas of science (Westerland, Garcia, Koke, Taylor, & Mason, 2002). Teachers then have increased confidence in doing these a ctivities with their students and can better see the activity from the lear As nonformal educators, leaders may also benefit phases of the EL model . T rainings should go beyond e xplaining the model to leaders. L eaders need to see and be a part of the whole learning process in order to best understand how it works . Trainings should utilize leader s own experiences and take them through the process in the sam e way youth might be engage d . Leaders should perform the steps of experiential learning in a specific project context they might be doing with their o wn club. L eaders need to see and feel the model in action and have an opportunity to reflect as a group on the experience. However, the application phase should go beyond talking about possible connections to future experiences and allow leade rs to apply something they learned in
324 another concrete experience. This would make the experience more me aningful and relevant for them and allow them to see it the same way a lea rner might see it. Help leaders visualize EL pathways in their club. Leaders in the study described multiple examples of the different components and pathways of EL they felt (Figure 4 1 ). They also described more specific examples experiential learning pathways in various learning venues, such as proje cts, community service , leadership, talks and demonstrations , and competitive events . Some of these pathways were ill ustrated in Figures 5 1 to 5 6. Having an opportunity to reflect on how experiential learning might be occurring in their own club was help ful . This seemed to make the EL mode l more real to them . Other leaders may benefit by doing something similar and sharing their thoughts on where reflection and application might be happen ing in their club. Helping leaders develop EL pathways for their own club may be mo re helpful than discussing the steps in the more generic model . Leaders may then identify more specific reflective and application questions to fit these situations. Foster integration of EL typologies into e xperiences . Creating hands on, co ncrete experiences for every topic m ay be challenging for leaders. Beard and Wilson (2006) created experiential learning typologies that frame the experience as a journey that moves a learner from where they are to where they need to be. This helps learner s gain different views and perspectives and often moves them beyond their comfort zones. Training programs sh ould help leaders learn how to design an experience using ology. Although experiential typologie s seem ed to be in tegrated into the club experiences of the leaders in the study,
325 r aising awareness of these or design elements may help other leaders better incorporate experiential learning attributes into club activities. Foster and teach t he importance of reflection but allow for flexibility. Leaders need to understand the role and importance of reflection in the learning process . Yet, according to the findings of the study, reflection may not always be practical or appro priate to hold righ t after an activity. Club leaders need to see when and where reflection can happen based o n their own club activities. Leaders need to be part of this discussion. Leaders also may need help in under stand ing the importance of putting action on hold in order for meaningful reflection to take place (Kolb, 1984). L eaders may ne ed help in distinguishing reflection on action and reflection in action. Leaders need age appropriate ways to handle reflection, especially with younger chi ldren, and understand that mult iple approaches are needed. He lp l eader s visualize a pplication. This study uncovered gaps or weaknesses in the application phase of experientia l learning. Application was often viewed as an action taken by youth at a later time when they applied their skil ls in a new situation, versus a guided discussion led by leaders. Leaders need to see how the application of learning can also be a guided phase that leads to a deeper understanding of some phenomenon . Leaders may benefit by having specific training on how to do facilitate application in different learning contexts. Emphasize the r ole of pro ject books, reports, and stories in reflection. The club l eaders in the study often spoke about the importance of project books, record books, project reports, and proje ct stories in documenting what youth did and learned. These year end documents were also viewed as important reflection tools . Volunteer
326 t rainin g programs should emphasize the important role these documents have in the learning process and how to best util ize them for the benefit of youth . Create consistency in project reporting documents . S ometimes the year end reporting documents were called different names by different leaders , yet they seemed to serve the same basic purpose. Although these documents are available online at the state level, some leaders indicated counties may have their own documents for leaders to use. In order to better assess learning outcomes of 4 H youth, more consistency in these club reporting documents may to be needed. Implicatio ns for Research This research study took an exploratory approach to experient ial learning in the 4 H club. As a result, the study raised many questions and opened new doors for research in 4 H. This study not only explored the role of the leader in the EL process , but also looked at a number of learning venues in 4 processes , based on leaders perceptions, beliefs, and experiences within the club. As a result, a number of ideas were generated for future studies. Ground trut h EL . This study was based on the self reported perceptions, beliefs, and lived experiences of leaders. Futur e phenomenological studies could processes by conducting observations of leaders and youth in a ser ies of experiential club activities or in a specific learning venue, such as community service, a demonstration o r talk, or a competitive event. Growth of leader. This study revealed that leaders experienced their own growth as leaders. Research h as looked at experiential learning in helping educators become better educators ( Brookfield, 1995; Darling Hammond & McLa ughlin, 2011 ;
327 Enfield, 2001; McGlinn, 2010 ; Wallace & Oliver, 2003 ) . How does experiential learning play a role in the growth of a 4 H club lead er? Additional research could investigate this phenomenon . Leader led vs. youth led clubs. Th e study also revealed that some leaders may have difficulty shifting from a leader led club to a more youth led club. This was at times a problem for leaders leadi ng clubs with younger aged youth. As youth grew older in the club, they wanted more independence in how they learned. Leaders had to shift their role in the club from being leader directed t o more youth guided. One leader felt that this was not always easy for a leader to do. To what extent does this occur in 4 H clubs? Future research may shed more light on this issue and how to help leaders cope with this shift in their role . Multi year project s. Conducting focus group interviews with youth involved in mu lti year projects may reveal how these projects utilize experiential learning practices and build on previous learning. This may also be true for leadership, community service, demonstrations and talks, and civic engagement activities. Role of project mate rial s. Hubbs and Brand (2005) described how reflective journaling provided the learner with a venue for inner dialogue that connected their thoughts, feelings, and actions. Future studies should examine project books, project reports, project records, and project stories and how they support experiential learning practices in the 4 H club. The role these materials play in reflection processes for club youth may provide a richer picture of club learning. Studies on reflectio n. This study examined how leaders described reflection in 4 H club learning experiences. Future studies should also examine how reflection i s
328 perceived by youth in 4 H clubs. Other studies could also explore the phenomenon of reflection in action versus reflection on action , as descr ibed by Scho n (1987). Do youth reflect as part of an ongoing action, such as when doing demonstrations, talks, or when mentoring others? At least one leader indicated that allowing tim e between an actual experience and a reflection opportunity was more helpful . She felt this provided youth with more time to think over the experience and/or talk with their fri ends about what happened. She felt this provid ed a deeper discussion with her youth. Future studies could examine whether or not delaying the timing of ref lection influences learning one way or the other. Future studies could also examine perceived obstacles and barriers to reflection in club settings . This will require more open discussion with leaders . Applying learning. Longitudinal studies could look at how youth have applied their 4 H project l earning later in their life or careers. This will likely involve lo ng term studies over time , following a specific group of youth. Social learning theories . This study focused on the 4 H exp eriential learning model , but f uture studies could view experiential learning through the lens of differen t social learning theories using interviews , focus groups, and observing clubs in action. Role of parents . This study revealed that parents play a role in the learning proces s and not just as project leaders . They helped their own children apply learning in experiences at home or in family outings. The role parents play in the experiential l earning process of their own children could be further explored using interviews, c ase studies, or surveys.
329 Investigate the role of EL in positive youth development. L eaders in the study described how 4 H helped youth gain important life skills. The 4 H program focuses on providing positive youth development (PYD) through 4 H club experience s. Yet, how the experiential learning model can be used to strengthen PYD may not be well understood by leaders, or perhaps even agents. This may merit further study. Defining the Essence of Experiential Learning in 4 H Essence in phenomenology was earlier quality that necessarily characterizes a phenomenon and without which . 38). If this is the case, then the essence of experiential learnin g lies in the inherent structure, context, cul ture, social environmen t , and rich content offered by the 4 H program. As a result, the 4 H program creates a framework riddled with p ath ways and points in time where youth have opportunities to mak e their own choices, guide their own learning , build their confidence to try new experiences, and build on these learning experiences , in a safe, and supportive, learning environment . That is, for experiential learnin g to occur, the proc ess must occur within a context or frame and not in isolation of it. Leaders are catalysts that have the potential to help youth learn through experiential learning processes to deepe r levels. T his will r equire more training for them . Thus, the essence of experiential learning lies within the framework and structure provided by the 4 H program and with t he potential to be enhanced by the 4 H club leader. Conclusion This study used a phenomenological interview approach to study the perceptions, beliefs, and lived experiences of five 4 H club leaders related to experiential learning in 4 H . W hat emerg ed was a broader and complex picture of learning in the club. Leaders in the study were very p assionate and dedicated. They
330 expressed the value and benefits of the 4 H program . They described themselves as guides, teachers, mentors, mediators, role models, colla borators, coaches, and even co learners. They saw themselves as supportive, caring adult s. Previous training in experiential learning was not consistent among leaders in the study, yet they described basic components of the model. Leaders expressed the nee d for more local training. L eaders gave many examples of concrete experiences, reflection and application , yet they did not describe themselves as guiding the experiential learning process . L eaders described experiential learning as happening through the s tructure, culture, and the social nature of 4 H. The group community within each club fostered discussion and collaborations, created role models for younger members, and offered mentoring opportunities. These processes were viewed as helping youth to lear n and grow. Leaders described EL pathways as occurring in projects, community service, leadership , civic engagement, talks , demonstrations, and competitive events. Leaders encouraged youth to set goals, have a vo ice in the club, and make their own choices. They also encourage d youth to take ownership and responsibility for what they did. Experiential learning pathways as viewed by leaders were illustrated . Chapter 5 connected the findings of the study to past EL models, theory and practice. Experiential lea rning pathways were illustrated for var ious types of experiences in 4 H . Two new conceptual models were created to illustrate the role and influence of context in the experiential learning model. As a result, new ideas and perspectives were generated to in clude in future volunteer training programs . Ideas for future research were also generated to aid in deepening the understanding o f experiential learning in 4 H.
331 Figure 5 1. Possible EL pathways in marine projects as perce ived by Ella. Figure 5 2. Possible EL pathways in sewing projects as perceived by Ruby .
332 Figure 5 3. Possible EL pathways in outdoor projects as perceived by Anna. F igure 5 4 . Possible EL pathways in multi year livestock projects as perceived by Eve .
333 Figure 5 5. Possible EL pathways in community service projects as perceived by Ella. Figure 5 6. Possible EL pathways in leadership experiences as perceived by Anna.
334 Figure 5 7. Experiential learning as experienced by 4 H club members .
335 Figure 5 8. Experiential learning as guided by 4 H club leaders.
336 APPENDIX A APPROVAL OF PROTOCOL
337 A PPENDIX B LETTER TO EXPERT PANEL Date: _____________________ Dear ______________________ I am seeking your input as a 4 H specialist and/or professional. I have been pursuing my PhD in Extension Education at the University of Florida. Over the past sever al years I have become very interested in the process of experiential learning and how it has been integrated into the 4 H Youth Development program. For my doctoral research I am doing a qualitative exploration on how leaders perceive and describe experie ntial learning in the 4 H club. I will do this through a series of interviews with selected 4 H club leaders. In order to uncover the relevant perceptions, thoughts, and experiences of 4 H club leaders related to experiential learning, it is important to ask interview questions that best cover the breadth and scope of this phenomenon and lead to a better understanding of how it works in 4 H. I want the findings of this research to have real benefit and application to our own Florida 4 H program. There wi ll be three interviews per leader. Each interview has a focus and the idea is that having three separate interview sessions allows the leader to best reconstruct his or he r own experiences and perceptions rela ted to experiential learning. I am seeking you r help in reviewing the draft set of questions I have developed as the interview guide. As 4 H professionals, I need your advice on the quality, scope, and depth of the questions and whether you feel leaders will be able to answer them adequate ly. Please i ndicate in comments on the side (in W ord Review new comment), if you feel wording should be changed and to what, if possible, and if a specific question should be added or deleted, or if you have any other tho ughts related to the questions. If you are able to assist me with this, please provide your thoughts and comments back to me by __________________. Thank you for your participation. Your help is greatly appreciated! Thank you! Karen Blyler, 4 H State Science Coordinator
338 APPENDIX C RECRUITMENT LETTER TO AGENTS
339 APPENDIX D LETTER FOR INFORMED CONSENT
340 APPENDIX E BACKGROUND INFORMATION FORM Dear 4 H Club Leader: Thank you for your interest in the experiential learning research study. In order to learn more about you as a club leader and your please answer the following questions. This information will be used to help the researcher select the appropriate clubs for the study. Please fax completed forms to Karen Blyler at 352 294 3544 or e mail firstname.lastname@example.org . Once this form has been received and reviewed by the researcher, you will be contacted t hrough e mail and/or by phone. . If you are not selected for the study, the information you provide below will not be used in any way. Again, thank you for your interest in the study and all that you do for youth! 1. Club leader name: ____________________________________ Date: ________ ___ 2. County: _____________________County 4 H Agent: _________________________ 3. Phone: Home __________________________ Cellphone ______________________ 4. E mail: ______________________________________________________________ 5. How many years have been involved in 4 H? 6. How many years have you been a club leader? 7. Indicate the type of club you have: community club ___ project club ___ other ____ 8. How many years has your club been in existence? 9. Are your club youth home schooled ___ not home schoo led ___or combi nation ___? 10. Provide approximate number of youth at each age level in your club. ______Cloverbuds ______ Juniors _____ _ Intermediate s ____ _ _ Seniors 11. Is your club located in a rural area, small town, urban, or inner city? 12. How often does your club meet? 13. How long are your club meetings? 14. Where does your club meet? 15. What major projects or topics are club youth involved in? 17. Briefly describe
341 APPENDIX F LETTER FOR MEMBER CHECK
342 APPENDIX G CLUB LEADER INTERVEW GUIDE Introduction to participants (leaders) : Thank you for your willingness to participate in the study on experiential learning. T hrough this study I want to find out how you, as a 4 H club leader, perceive and describe experiential learning processes in the 4 H club. To help build this understanding, I have separated the questions into three different interviews. My hope is that the questions will help you reconstruct your own memories and experiences related to (experiential) learning processes going on in your club. Each interview will focus on a distinct set of questions, should last around 60 but no more than 90 minutes, and will be done on different days, depending on your schedule. You do not have to answer any questions you do not want to. Interview 1: T his interview will help me learn more about the background and con text of your club, their interests, and the activities they are involved in. I would also like to learn about your background and interest s, how you became a leader, any training you have had , and how you view your role in the cl ub. This interview explores the following research questions: 1. How do club leaders le arn about experiential learning (EL)? 2. How do club leaders view their educational role in the EL process? Questions Tell me about your 4 H club. What are the youth interested in? What types of 1. projects are they involved in? How are they accomplished? Wh at other activities does your c lub do/get involved in? D escribe any citizenship, 2. leadership, and community service learning projects they are involved in. Ho w did you become a 4 H leader? What were yo ur reasons for becoming one? 3. Tell me about your educat ional background and/or interests. What influence has it 4. had in your role as a club leader a nd/or how you work with youth? As a leader, how do you view your edu cational role within the club? 5. How do you view your role in the learning process? 6. How would you describe your approach to planning and teaching a club activity? 7. What kinds of activities do you look for ? What kind of training have you received as a 4 H volunteer? Tell me about any kind 8. of training or experiences you may have had related to how youth learn.
343 How does a 4 H club create a beneficial le arning environment for youth? OR How 9. does being in a 4 H club help a young person learn? Do you have anythi ng that you would like to add? 10. Interview 2: This interview will uncover your perceptions about expe riential l earning and using experiential learning approaches. Questions will help you reconstruct details of your ex periences with club meetings and programs. This interview explores the following two research questions: 3. How do club leaders describe th e EL model and its components? 4. How do club leaders describe their experiences using EL approaches in the club? Questions I n 4 11. The 4 H program promotes the use of the experiential learning (EL) model in its 12. refle ct The first phase concrete experience 13. mean? Describe a club activity that you feel demonstrates this. How were youth engaged? What was your role in the process? The second phase of EL involves reflection . Describe a situatio n where youth shared 14. the results of their learning experiences with other youth in the club. What did yo uth do? What role did you play? How do project books, events, talks, provide reflection opportunities? 15. How else can club members share thei r experience s with others in or outside 4 H? 16. 17. they learned to another situation. Desc ribe your role in this process? Take me through an experience with your club where you feel all three o f these 18. phases occurred. How were youth engaged? What was your role in the process? What factors (internal or external to club) may influence your use of experiential 19. learning approa ches with youth? What challenges have you faced in using the experiential learning model with youth? 20. What components of the model are you or youth less likely to do and why? 21.
344 Interview 3: This interview will help you learning experie nces and uncovers your perceptions on learning as occurring through differe nt activities or venues in 4 H. This inte rview explores the following research questions: 4. How do club leaders describe their experience s using EL approaches with club youth? 5. How do club leaders perceive that yo uth learn through EL processes? Question s Take me through a typical club meeting and describe what happens. How do they 22. guide their learning or make their o wn decisions in these meetings? How do you see experiential learning happening in club meetings? That is, where or 23. when does/can reflection occur? How do youth apply what they learned in a club program/meeting to another situ ation? How else can club meeti ngs help youth learn and grow? 24. Please describe a specific project experience your club youth were involved in. How 25. did they work together? How were decisions made? What was your role? How do you feel experiential learning is involved in project experiences ? How do 26. pr ojects allow youth to guide their own learning? How is reflection encouraged? How c an youth apply learning to another situation ? Please describe a civic engagement opportunity or commun ity service learning 27. experience, club youth were involved in. How do you feel experiential learning was involved in the service learning or civic 28. engagement experience? How do youth guide own learn ing? How is reflection encouraged? How c an youth apply learning to another situation? What types of leadership experiences exist in your 4 H club? Tell me about a 29. leadership experience yo ur club youth were involved in. How does a leadership experience inv olve experiential learning? How do youth 30. guide their own learning? How is r eflection and application supported? Tell me about any other types of club activities you fee l reflect experiential learning ? 31. Based on your experiences, what have you found are the learning benefits of using 32. EL approaches with youth? Please describe s pecific examples or situations. What kind of training experiences would help you, or other leaders, better integrate 33. EL into the 4 H club? Do you have anything else you would like to sha re about expe riential learning in 34. your club? Thank you for your time!
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360 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Karen M. Bly degree in biology from Florida State University in Tallahassee, Flori secondary sc ience e ducation from Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida. She began her professional career as a high school science teacher in south Florida and remained a teacher for 16 years. She taught biology, marine science, and earth science . She lat er obtained her m aster s in marine science from NOVA Southeastern University in Hollywood, Florida. In 1993, she moved to the state of Washington and worked for Washington State nducted a wid e range of education programs in rural areas of the state that focused on watershed hydrology, water quality, groundwater pollution, and drinking water issues . In 2000, she moved back to Florida and came to Gainesville. She worked as a science educator for the Florida Museum of Natural History. In 2002 she started working for the Florida 4 H Youth Development Program as the State Coordinator for Marine and Environmental Education. Her role was later expanded and she became the State Science Coo rdinator for the 4 H Program. Over time her interest in experiential learning and the constructivist learning philosophy grew. She entered graduate school in 2003 and received her Ph.D . in the spring of 2016. She is married to Mike, her be st friend and fi shing buddy, who is a professor at the University of Florida. She enjoys spending time in the outdoors , and is an avid kayak angler . She also enjoys gardening, international travel , photography, drawing wildlife art , and going camping.