Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Agriculture and Extension Education

Major Professor

Randol G. Waters

Committee Members

Roy R. Lessly, Ben T. Powell


The purpose of this study was to identify factors which influence teen participation in the Tennessee 4-H program. The focus group research method was employed in order to obtain the attitudes and opinions of former 4-H members regarding the 4-H program. Teenagers who were once involved in the 4-H program but currently are not involved were identified in eight rural counties in Tennessee. Rural teens were targeted because of their influence on the total enrollment figures. Nearly 70 percent of the total 4-H enrollment comes from rural areas or farms. These students were then contacted and asked to participate in the study.

Several major themes regarding the 4-H program emerged from the focus group sessions. First, students felt that 4-H programs were not adequately marketed to their age group. Second, the students felt that many 4-H programs and activities were not meeting their needs and interests. Third, the students stated that time was also a major barrier to teen participation in 4-H programs. Finally, the students stated that 4-H agents were not receiving the proper training required to work with older youth.

In conclusion, several recommendations about teen involvement in the Tennessee 4-H program can be made. Better marketing of the current programs, new programs, more collaboration with the school systems (for in class time), and agent training and support all seem to be ways of increasing the retention of older youth in the 4-H program.

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