Working for Missourians

Missouri 4-H links thousands of young people, parents, volunteers and professionals to MU each year. In FY 2009, more than 3,300 4-H supporters and participants visited the campus for educational events and camps.

4-H Center for Youth Development

Source: MU Extension Annual Report, FY 2009

Changes in global technology are fueling the worldwide demand for trained scientists and engineers at an exceedingly faster pace each year. In the United States, this need cuts across communities, professions and skill levels as a broader understanding of technology and science increasingly is required by more Americans. Future scientists are especially crucial to Missouri, where three-quarters of the state’s $12.1 billion in products and services exported during 2008 were from science-, engineering- and technology-based industries.

Interest in science often is a predictor for students to choose science-related careers, and 4-H members report an increased interest in science at a rate three times that of their non-4-H peers. In FY 2009, 4-H exposed 306,862 Missouri youths and 13,463 adults to projects related to science, engineering and technology.

4-H Center for Youth DevelopmentThree members of the Fairview Friends 4-H Club complete an experiment about hydrogels in an MU chemistry lab in honor of National 4-H Week. The experiment was part of the 4-H Science, Engineering and Technology initiative, a campaign to encourage a new generation of young people to attain science and technology skills, which increasingly are in high demand.

In 2008, 4-H youth development specialists and other MU Extension personnel worked with volunteers and community leaders to plan, implement and evaluate local programs that reached 94,230 Missouri youths — one in 10 children — ages 5 to 18.

Findings from a recent national study bring an important message to parents, community leaders and educators: Active 4-H members excel in leadership and have higher educational goals, exhibiting fewer unhealthy behaviors such as drinking, smoking and other forms of drug use.

The 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development gathered information from thousands of adolescents, not just 4-H members, nationwide. Missouri joined the study in 2007. Since then, 502 Missouri youths, grades six through 12, have been surveyed. As a result, researchers and youth development specialists know more about the kinds of experiences and support that young people need to be healthy and thrive.

There are significant differences between active, twice-monthly 4-H participants and those not involved with the organization. In particular, teens who actively participate in 4-H during high school report more leadership experiences and expect to attend college at a higher rate; their tendencies toward unhealthy behaviors also greatly are reduced over those of their peers.

In FY 2009, Missouri 4-H enrolled 11,232 volunteers. These volunteers donate an average of six to 10 hours each week, which equates to 72 to 120 hours each year. Assigning value for a volunteer’s time at $17.76 per hour, Missouri 4-H volunteers provide $14 million to $24 million in services annually.