Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Agricultural Extension

Major Professor

Cecil E. Carter, Jr

Committee Members

Robert S. Dotson, Ben Powell


This study was completed in order to determine factors which influence seventh grade students to remain in 4-H after their sixth grade year. . The study, done in Dickson, Tennessee, included data collected from 280 students. Of the students, 157 were 4-H members and 123 were nonmembers. Four-H Club members in both Dickson County and in Tennessee drop out at a greater degree between their sixth and seventh grade year than any other year. This study was done to identify factors affecting their retention and discover ways for enrollment to be maintained or increased at this age level. Analysis of the data was done using frequencies and percentages. The chi square and analysis of variance F tests were used to indicate significance of described differences between 4-H members and nonmembers. The .05 level was selected as being statistically significant. Computations were made by The University of Tennessee Computing Center. Areas of the study were age, sex, participation in both 4-H and other activities, family characteristics, peer influences and interests of the age group.

Major findings of the study were:

The majority of students who remain in 4-H through the seventh grade plan to remain in 4-H through graduation. Almost all students not enrolled in 4-H during their seventh grade year had quit 4-H after the sixth grade year.

Both members and nonmembers suggested sports, motorcycles and mechanics as new projects. The majority of members and nonmembers chose not to respond to this question. Members chose as their favorite 4-H projects arts and crafts, clothing, dog care, food nutrition, and wildlife.

Most members wanted to improve 4-H by adding more group activities, out of school projects, and by having more meetings. Nonmembers who responded (only 18 percent^ indicated that club meetings were boring to them and that activities needed to be different in the seventh grade from what they had had the previous years.

Members indicated that they remained in 4-H mostly due to enjoyment of 4-H meetings and the fact that their friends were in 4-H. Nonmembers said they quit because none of the projects interested them, other activities interfered, and they were bored.

Age, school, and grades of members compared with nonmembers were not significantly different. Sex of members as compared to nonmembers was significantly different. Females were more likely to remain in 4-H through the seventh grade.

Interests of the members as compared to nonmembers were significantly different as to what would encourage longer membership. Members would be more encouraged by being selected for district trips, being on the radio, going to a state 4-H event and helping to plan junior high events.

Family characteristics of members as compared to nonmembers were not significantly different related to either parent having been in 4-H, brothers and sisters having been in 4-H and whether or not the mother was employed outside the home.

Members' parents had been glad when their children joined 4-H whereas nonmembers' parents did not care. Members' mothers were more likely to have provided transportation for them and other members and were more likely to have helped with project work.

Four-H participation of members as compared to nonmembers was significantly different in all areas except public speaking. Of the seventh grade students in Dickson County, 65 percent or more (depending on the area) who had either held office, won ribbons, won medals, or entered contests were still 4-H members.

Participation in other activities of members as compared to nonmembers was not significantly different in the following areas—Scouts, band, private music and dance lessons, school paper, church youth work, or sports teams. Members were more likely to participate in a larger number of different other activities.

As related to sex, there was a significant difference between total student participation of males and females. Females participated in more activities.

Participation of members, nonmembers, and total population were significantly different as related to higher grades in school, parents' good reaction to joining 4-H, either parent having been a 4-H member, mother provided transportation to her children and other children or assisted with 4-H events. Each of these meant greater participation on the part of the student whether a member or nonmember.

Participation was significantly different for both members and nonmembers who planned to continue 4-H the next year as compared to those who did not plan to continue. Those planning to re-enroll or enroll again the following year were likely to participate in more activities.

General recommendations were made.

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