Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communications

Major Professor

Christopher T. Stripling

Committee Members

Carrie A. Stephens, H. Dwight Loveday


4-H agents and agriculture teachers across Tennessee teach youth about animal science projects using a variety of different methods, and these youth typically go on to compete in the Tennessee Junior Livestock Exposition Skillathon competition for their chosen animal project. Skillathon is an educational delivery method where a facilitator conducts a learning station where youth can gain knowledge or demonstrate their knowledge and skills learned by doing livestock project work. However, approximately 27% of youth in Tennessee with beef projects choose not to participate in the skillathon. This is troubling since early research has shown life skills are developed by youth participating in the skillathon. As a result, this study examined youth leadership life skills development among beef skillathon participants and determined factors influencing motivation to participate in the beef skillathon. The results of the study coincide with previous research. Youth participants perceived that they developed leadership life skills as a result of participating in the skillathon. The major factors influencing their participation in skillathon were the following: (a) I wanted to see how much I knew about my project, (b) I wanted to be Premier Exhibitor, (c) I thought it would be fun, (d) To achieve a goal, (e) Build self-confidence, (f) Interested in an animal science career, and (g) Challenge myself to try new things.

Based on the results of this study, county 4-H agents and school-based agricultural education teachers should consider recruitment strategies and opportunities for growth in their present livestock program to enable more youth to benefit from youth leadership life skill development as a result of participating in the skillathon. Awards and recognition programs should continue to be an integral part of the Tennessee Junior Livestock Exposition, mainly the Premier Exhibitor Award as most participants found the award to be an influencing factor in their participation in the skillathon. This study should be replicated with other populations of skillathon participants and with other types of animal skillathons. Future research should be conducted on a national level to gauge the perceived youth leadership life skill development of youth that participate in the National Skillathon competition.

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