Eight year study shows impact 4-H has on youth

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County Engagement Specialist in 4-H Youth Development Shaun Murphy reports a study by Tufts University of Massachusetts shows 4-H has an impact on the lives of youth. The study was conducted over eight years and engaged more than 7,000 youth in fifth through 12th grade in annual surveys that allowed researchers to gauge trends among individuals.

The results showed 4-H youth are three-point four times more likely to abstain from sexual activity by the 12th grade. They are two times less likely to smoke or drink alcohol. Youth in 4-H also report better grades, are nearly twice as likely to go to college, and are two point three times more likely to exercise and be physically active.

The Tufts University study also showed 4-H members are four times more likely to make contributions to communities and two times more likely to be civically active. Membership showed a reduced likelihood of youth engaging in criminal activity.

Murphy says 4-H projects and opportunities have evolved over the years, but the methodology has not. The organization connects adults in mentorship capacities and creates environments where youth can “grow, develop, and thrive.” Murphy believes youth need positive outlets to grow and learn good decision-making skills.

Contact a local University of Missouri Extension office for more information on 4-H or email Shaun Murphy at murphyse@missouri.edu.