Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Human Resource Education and Workforce Development

Document Type



This study aimed at determining the level of inclusiveness of youth voice in the decision-making process in the 4-H youth development program. It described the 4-H program’s position on youth voice among State 4-H Program Leaders, 4-H State Youth Development Specialists, and 4-H Youth Agents/Educators. The information gathered was utilized in identifying the level of inclusiveness of youth voice in the decision-making process to better understand how to suit youth’s needs, identify promising practices, and barriers. Three underlying constructs were identified that represented State 4-H Program Leader’s, 4-H Youth Development Specialist’s, and 4-H Agent’s/Educator’s personal views on youth voice in the decision-making process. They are as follows: Adult Initiated, Youth Involved; Youth Led, Adult Supported; and Youth Involved, Adult Decision-Making. Findings indicated that as an organization, 4-H, has to gather emerging research on youth voice and base trainings that address the primary issue of youth voice. Four-H needs to become more directional in its purpose and focus on trainings and issues that will aid youth development professionals in becoming true youth developers that address the needs of youth in our nation. Most interaction with youth within the 4-H program takes place at the county/parish level. It is evident that 4-H needs to include youth voice at the state level to ensure that youth needs are being met at the higher levels within the organization. While aware of emerging research on youth voice, 4-H state faculty, need to value the benefits of this new ideology. When viewing youth voice inclusion from the standpoint of organizational culture, it was found that as a youth development program, 4-H has a double standard on including youth voice in the decision-making process. The 4-H youth development program can not include them as full partners and let them have little choice on how and when they participate. Four-H creates a sense of mistrust with youth, and this type of inconsistency will negatively affect youth voice on all levels. It will take time for the organizational culture to shift the paradigm and recognize and adjust the value of, and respect youth voice in the decision-making process.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Krisanna Machtmes