The Issue

Troy Middle School teachers are offering a curriculum related to career readiness through an elective class. Troy is a small town in the county of Lincoln in the St. Louis area. It is a “bedroom” community where most of the adult population live in Troy but work outside the county. The career readiness curriculum offered by the middle school teachers to their 7th grade students includes financial literacy, skills in the workplace, character traits, careers related to character traits, and time management. According to the Career Planning Timeline for 4-H Youth, (Williams, 2020), middle school youth should be learning about workforce requirements and gaining workforce skills. They should also be exploring possible career paths. The 4-H professional in the county saw an opportunity to offer a more structured career readiness program to the school and offered to supplement the existing curriculum with the 4-H Youth Futures Spin Club Curriculum. This Missouri made curriculum consists of six specific lessons tied to a SPIN (special interest) Club which include: Preparing in High School for College and Careers; Choose and Get Into College; Financial Literacy; Jobs and Careers; Skills for Life; and Career Skills for Success. (Evans, Garcia, Scheer, & Wells, 2020). The 4-H Specialist had a previous relationship with the principal of Troy Middle School and received her approval to contact the 7th grade teacher in her building. After meeting the teacher, it was discovered that the 4-H Specialist also knew the teacher’s family. The relationships 4-H professionals build in their communities are the key to opening doors to engage and motivate schools to use 4-H curriculum.

The main benefits offered by this collaboration is the structure of the lessons and the possibility of having outside speakers co-teach the lessons. This motivates and engages the students to discover the importance of the topic presented in a different way.

What Was Done

The 4-H Specialist in Lincoln County made plans to assist middle school teachers by utilizing and teaching the Youth Futures SPIN Club curriculum in two classes per day during the months of September, October, November, and December of 2021. The 4-H Specialist was in the school for one day a week, leading the program with one group in the morning and a different group in the afternoon. Four groups of students participated for a total of 72 students.

Project Impact

At the conclusion of the six lessons, the 4-H specialist organized a recognition event where she conducted an informal impact evaluation, while celebrating the completion of the program. The informal evaluation consisted of one question: What did you learn from participating in the program? The student’s answers included, “I learned how to get a scholarship, do a resume, choose a major, how to be successful in life, how to keep a monthly budget, how to work with a group, take note of your skills, you need a good education to do what you want, be open minded, be professional, and prepare for the future”. The Youth Futures SPIN Club curriculum objective is to prepare youth for college and the workforce. The expected outcome was evaluated using an online quantitative tool - College & Career Readiness SPIN Pre/Post Assessment, (Wikiera, 2021) at the beginning and end of each class. The results of 62 Lincoln County students showed that youth started identifying some career options (43%), and half of them had a clear idea of what they will do after high school; 53% of the students already know what their major will be. More than half of the students (51%) learned about available grants and scholarships while discovering the amount of education needed to accomplish their goals. This program aligned with the lessons already being taught by middle school teachers which strengthened the relationship between community partners to provide career readiness support systems.


Evans, J., Garcia, D., Scheer, M., & Wells, C. (2020). Youth futures college within reach SPIN club curriculum. University of Missouri Extension.

Wikiera, A. (2021). College & career readiness SPIN pre/post assessment. University of Missouri Extension 4-H Youth Futures Spin Club Curriculum Access Team.

Williams, W. (2020). Career planning timeline for 4-H youth. University of Missouri Extension.


Rhonda Shafer, Field Specialist in 4-H Youth Development