4-H Study of Positive Youth Development
For more than a decade, preeminent youth development scholars, Drs. Richard M. Lerner
and Jacqueline V.
Lerner, and the team at the Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development at Tufts University, Medford,
MA, partnered with faculty at America’s land-grant universities to conduct this groundbreaking research.
The first-of-its-kind research defined and measured positive youth development. The
result is a model that is
driving new thinking and approaches to youth development around the world.
The research is helping families, schools, communities, and youth programs develop
strategies to support children and adolescents. Effective youth development programs
like 4-H are putting the research to work by focusing on three important areas:
• Positive and sustained relationships between youth and adults
• Activities that build important life skills
• Opportunities for youth to use these skills as participants and leaders in valued community activities
The 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development is a longitudinal study that began in 2002 and was
repeated annually for eight years, surveying more than 7,000 adolescents from diverse backgrounds across 42
The first wave of research began with fifth graders during the 2002-2003 school year
and ended with
twelfth graders (Wave eight) in 2010. More recently, the Tufts research team examined all eight
waves of data and conducted new and more rigorous analyses in order to produce the latest
comprehensive report of findings. The new report, while sometimes diverging from earlier results,
provides powerful evidence of the impact of 4-H participation throughout Grades 5-12.
“The potential for change is a core strength of all youth – a strength that can be built upon. This
strength is cause for optimism for it means we can positively influence the life paths of all children.“---Lerner
et al., 2013