Date of Award

12-2016

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Major

Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communications

Major Professor

Carrie A. Stephens

Committee Members

Christopher Stripling, Dwight H. Loveday

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to find reasons youth choose or do not choose to be involved in 4-H livestock projects. Livestock projects are an important part of 4-H youth development because they teach life skills like responsibility and hard work. However, many youth are unable to participate or do not have the interest. This study sought to discover what motivates some youth to become involved in a livestock project and why others do not.

Focus groups were used as the data collection tool. Two groups of youth livestock participants and two groups of non-livestock participants were utilized. Themes were then discovered and discussed. The themes that emerged of why youth choose livestock projects were (a) family support, (b) interest and a love of animals, (c) farming background, (d) friendships and fun, and (e) the development of life skills. The youth participants in this study all grew up on a farm and had family members that showed livestock. It was also evident they enjoyed showing and making new friends. Some were already realizing they were learning responsibility and hard work.

Five themes also developed of why youth are not involved in livestock projects: (a) time, (b) resources, (c) work ethic, (d) farming background, and (e) interest. Some participants stated they did not have the time, land, or money to be involved in livestock projects but would be interested if they had unlimited resources. Others just did not have interest or did not like animals. For some, it was hard for them to get started in showing livestock, because they did not grow up on a farm or have support from family.

Recommendations included further research on what barriers keep youth from participating and what motivates those youth who are involved in livestock projects. It was also recommended that 4-H agents, agriculture teachers, volunteers, and other leaders provide opportunities to overcome these barriers, such as, leasing projects, fundraising, and engaging activities to boost interest in livestock and agriculture.

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