NCERA215: Contribution of 4-H Participation to the Development of Social Capital Within Communities

(Multistate Research Coordinating Committee and Information Exchange Group)

Status: Active

NCERA215: Contribution of 4-H Participation to the Development of Social Capital Within Communities

Duration: 10/01/2014 to 09/30/2019

Administrative Advisor(s):


NIFA Reps:


Statement of Issues and Justification

While the benefits of 4-H participation are well documented for youth, little is known about the impact of 4-H participation on community social capital, largely due to measurement challenges. 4-H programs foster youth-adult partnerships that encourage active participation by youth and adults, often over many years. The development of habits of community contribution is a key outcome of 4-H programs (Lerner et al, 2008) and a marker of community health that requires renewal in each generation. We wish to determine how these unique partnerships contribute to the well being of youth and of the greater community in which the 4-H development program is based. For the purposes of this project, the words 4-H and 4-H youth development have the same meaning and refer to any youth program of Cooperative Extension, unless 4-H club is singled out for specific purposes.

Does the 4-H Youth Development Program build connections between non-family caring adults and young people, which foster social capital for both participants and the community? This is the overarching research question the Multi-State Education/Extension and Research Activity project will continue to explore. Robert Putnam (2000) defines social capital as the connections among individuals and the social networks and the norms of reciprocity and trustworthiness that arise from them. Two central tenets of social capital are that social networks have value and relationships matter. Research has determined that social capital is an important component in the equation for positive youth development; additional research suggests the presence of social capital is a predictor of community action and engagement, and therefore, community development (Agnitsch, Flora & Ryan, 2006). Thus, our focus on 4-H programming and social capital has implications for both 4-H and Community Development educators. Over the past five years both have benefited from opportunities to participate in research and to learn about the program implications emerging from the work of the NCERA 215 team in developing quantitative and qualitative measures and sharing findings across the system.

Transitioning to our next five-year plan, the multi-state project will continue to examine these topics by studying the correlation between social capital development and diverse types of 4-H programs across the country. James Comer, MD, in a keynote address to CYFAR attendees said, "I'm convinced we can create the kinds of social capital inner city kids, rural kids, and all kids...need to be successful in school and then in life (2008)." It is the intent of our continuing project to study how 4-H Youth Development Programs contribute to the development of individual and community social capital. Our results will thereby foster and enhance positive youth development as well as community development. This work is especially important now as funding structures for youth and community development are in flux and evidence to support positive consequences related to extension programming is even more critical to maintaining existing and developing new funding streams. Strong representation from diverse regions and both urban and rural program environments affords our team an opportunity to study the social capital implications of different Extension youth program practices across different geographies and cultures.

The Technical Feasibility of the Research.
Our first NCERA project focused on developing and piloting the approaches and tools necessary to address our research questions. The California pilot provided us the opportunity to refine those tools and approaches and to determine that the larger research plan is feasible. As we move into the next five-year plan, we will pilot the rubric in Maryland that will allow us to look for relationships between types of programs and social capital outcomes. Our challenges are primarily related to identifying funding sources that can support the development of a sample that will allow for robust statistical analyses. The results of the multi-year project over the course of the study will allow the team to address the research questions related to how social capital is formed as a result of 4-H programming and to test the hypotheses developed to examine the relationships among variables.

During the coming five years our goals include:

1. Research: Continue working on the research instruments and roll the survey out nationally in at least 10 states. Specific activities include:

a. Convening to review pilot study results from two states, continuing to modify research tools as needed based on the completed analysis of the California data to ensure validity and reliability, and develop a rubric for program classification to analyze results by type and quality of youth activity.

b. Expanding the study from two states to a national roll out of the survey in two waves of 5 states.

c. Analyzing data from the national roll out to determine social capital gains identified in the surveys and focus on implications for program structure and design.

d. Possible funders
i. W. T. Grant
ii. NCRCRD
iii. AFRI
iv. National 4-H Council

2. Extension Education: Based on the piloting of ripple mapping tools within NCERA 215 and with Engaging Youth Serving Communities USDA Rural Youth Development Projects, develop program tools and tool kits targeted to 4-H and to community development practitioners that use the Community Capitals Framework to engage groups in systems mapping.

a. Mapping impact

b. Mapping as a planning and monitoring process

c. Possible funders:
i. National 4-H Council

3. Extension program improvement: Develop and test program interventions designed to increase social capital outcomes based on results of the research project.

a. Engage staff and volunteers in 4-H program improvement

b. Focus on programming targeted to vulnerable youth

c. Test assessment of social capital gains in various programming venues.

Impacts of Engaging in Multi-State Work
This multi-state ERA project will benefit 4-H programs across the nation in a number of ways, including learning how the social networks formed as a natural outcome of 4-H involvement have value for participants and communities. Our work together will generate programming to promote greater participation in communities that stand to benefit from improved community social capital. In addition, members will disseminate project findings through their state and national-level networks through trainings and presentations that will ultimately benefit client groups and their ability to expand the awareness of the role building social capital plays within 4-H, and between 4-H and communities. In accordance with the distinctive land-grant mission of teaching, research, and extended public service, this project will be conducted by Extension and research faculty at the campus and state level, along with Extension educators at the regional and local levels. Project outcomes will help Extension educators at all levels, families, and other community members make informed decisions that enhance their quality of life and well-being through the development and enhancement of social capital and other capital forms, such as human, cultural, and political capital. This project has importance for all geographic areas: rural, suburban, and urban. Furthermore, the findings will aid 4-H and other Extension educators in providing varied programming opportunities for youth and will also contribute to the development of social capital within the community via improved program practices.

Team Accomplishments and Capacity to Achieve Objectives

NCERA 215 was approved as a multi-state integrated extension and research project in 2009. During that time the group developed a research design to answer questions about how youth engagement creates social capital for youth and for the overall community. We have developed instruments including a survey, interview protocol, and community mapping protocol, conducted qualitative research on how social capital forms in 4-H groups, presented and published on our work in practitioner and peer-reviewed venues (including an entire special issue of New Directions for Youth Development (Calvert, Emery & Kinsey, 2013), and consulted with the National Institutes of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). In addition, we have received funding for and piloted a social capital survey in California and Maine. Specific results include the following:

Convene researchers, Extension educators, and faculty to foster interdisciplinary work on social capital and community youth development.

Accomplishments:
A large number of team members have been involved in publishing results in peer-reviewed publications and delivering scholarly presentations and professional development sessions. The range of states and disciplines involved has increased the reach of these presentations to include youth development, evaluation, community development, and education.

As examples of the current and continuing multi-state and interdisciplinary engagement, California, Maine and Maryland staff are developing and piloting the current survey instrument. The national roll-out will involve other states that are represented on the project and additional states will be recruited. The qualitative data collection process has been implemented in over ten states and was initially refined by Iowa, Wisconsin and Maine. The special issue of New Directions for Youth Development included work of team members (all authors of articles) from Maine, Missouri, Wisconsin, California, South Dakota, New Jersey, Kansas, and NIFA. Additional publications have been led by California and New Jersey.

Fund and implement a major national research project utilizing the tools already piloted and validated by this project to explore how 4-H Programming contributes to the development of social capital within communities.

Accomplishments:
The social capital survey and interview protocol piloted in California demonstrated robust reliability. A participatory ripple mapping process is integrated into a toolkit as a first step in measuring community change in the USDA-funded Engaging Youth Serving Communities project.

Refine existing and develop new measurement tools to identify and analyze how the 4-H Program impacts the level of the various capitals (as identified in the Community Capital Framework) within the community.

Accomplishments and Current Efforts:
The survey will be piloted in Maryland this fall to test validity with urban youth. An accompanying rubric to measure program practices is being refined to increase its sensitivity and to reflect early findings. The team plans to utilize both tools in a national study in the first year of the new project.

Improve the quality of community youth development practice in the Extension system and beyond.

Accomplishments:
Research findings have been disseminated through the Extension system via CYFAR, NAE4-HA and Galaxy Conference presentations, Journal of Extension articles, and national and state webinars and training sessions. Findings have been shared more broadly with the field, notably through a 2013 special issue of New Directions for Youth Development. Findings from current research are building content for training modules.

Objectives

  1. Objective 1: To convene researchers, Extension educators, and faculty whose research, teaching and/or practice involves youth and community development in order to foster interdisciplinary work on social capital and community youth development.
  2. Objective 2: To fund and implement a major national research project utilizing the tools already piloted and validated by this project to explore how the 4-H Program contributes to the development of social capital within communities, specifically: a. To determine 4-H experiences that contributes to the development of youths' social capital. b. To identify and analyze how the quantity and quality of the 4-H Program's community involvement impacts the level of social capital among youth and adult volunteers c. To identify and analyze how the quantity and quality of the 4-H Program's community involvement impacts the development of social capital within the community.
  3. Objective 3: To refine existing and develop new measurement tools to identify and analyze how the 4-H Program impacts the level of the various capitals (as identified in the Community Capital Framework) within the community.
  4. Objective 4: To improve the quality of community youth development practice in the Extension system and beyond by a. Disseminating research findings b. Creating and delivering training modules on effective program practices.

Procedures and Activities

The purpose of this research project is to study whether the 4-H Youth Development Program builds connections between non-family caring adults and young people which foster social capital for both participants and the community. This is a renewal of a project that has successfully sustained engagement of a diverse national team in both research and extension activities. A renewed NCERA 215 will continue to involve Cooperative Extension and land-grant university faculty from California, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Missouri, South Dakota, Washington and Wisconsin. The participation of these states and possibly others, from all regions of the country, will allow the study to take place in varied communities throughout the country.


Cooperative Extension faculty/educators and researchers involved in this research project will be responsible for recruitment of 4-H programs in their respective states to expand our research study (numbers of sites within states to be determined). Members of the project team have been meeting via monthly teleconference calls, annual in-person meetings and additional meetings at various conferences.

New members have joined the team, several since the renewal project was announced via NIMSS, and are actively participating in team discussions. As an example, Maryland became a new project member in 2013 and has already submitted the research protocols for Institutional Review Board approval to replicate the survey and interview process in nine urbanized Maryland counties. They anticipate 167 youth will complete the survey, and 4-H members in each county will participate in interviews.

This project will build on our successful track record of developing and implementing several research tools. These include a social capital survey and interview protocol that were piloted in California and Maine and tested for reliability, a ripple mapping process that has been used for research and evaluation in many of the member states and other sites involved in the USDA-funded Engaging Youth Serving Communities project. Funds from NCRCRD and California Cooperative Extension were secured for development and implementation of these tools. Findings have been shared in multiple peer-reviewed journals and conferences in addition to webinars and other training opportunities.

For our next five-year plan we have assembled a diverse, multi-disciplinary, and committed team, with the capacity to plan, implement, conduct and complete the research has been assembled. Accessing many perspectives in the group: youth development and community development researchers and community-based practitioners has been essential to our success. The research program begun in our first five years is underway and ready for expansion to full implementation in this next five-year phase of the project. Extension activities will continue to focus on improving program quality by sharing findings with practitioners through presentations and training.

Research Approach

The team maintains a focus on the overall research questions with additional more specific questions:

1. What 4-H Program experiences contribute to the development of youths' social capital? Specific sub questions include:
• What youth roles in community engagement are most associated with social capital development? How does the range of youth program delivery methods in the Extension system—clubs, afterschool programs, short-term opportunities, issue-focused activities—vary in the social capital they build for youth?
• What are the characteristics of programs that build bonding, bridging and linking social capital?

2. How does the 4-H Program's community involvement impact the development of social capital within the community? Additional specific questions of interest to both the team and the Extension system include:
• How are population subgroups—urban/rural, socioeconomic status, race/ethnicity—building social capital through 4-H involvement?
• How is the social capital of adult partners changed by involvement with youth in community programs?
• How does social capital development incorporating youth in community networks contribute to overall community engagement?

Conceptual framework, research methods, data collection instruments and modes of analysis:

We have built on our preliminary research (from the 2009-14 Multistate Project), which engaged 4-H members in mapping the impact of their work on the community using the community capitals framework (Emery, & Fey, 2006; Emery & Flora, 2006). Pilot data collection in diverse communities in ten states led to initial findings about the characteristics of 4-H youth program experiences that link social capital development to youth civic engagement. An example is the finding that engaging 4-H youth in activities that are important to other organizations and adults in the broader community changes community members’ perception of youth and their readiness to engage youth in civic activities. As a result of the nationwide mapping activity, we identified key questions related to a young person’s sense of agency within their communities of place and interest; these questions will be tested with the revised version of the social capital survey, and they have also been used to update the interviews.

Survey: The quantitative social capital survey assesses social capital stocks to determine the level of social capital, both at the individual level and in the community. The questions on the survey are informed by existing research on the factors that relate to the development of social capital, including the ongoing work of researchers and practitioners at the University of Minnesota. Pilot study data analysis was completed in the fall of 2013. The process was discussed in Enfield & Nathaniel (2013). The adult survey, to be used with community stakeholders, has already been validated by the University of Minnesota (Chazdon, et al, n.d.). A sampling process will focus on representing the 4-H population of participating states. Data will be maintained and analyzed by the team with reports to participating states.

Youth Interviews: One-on-one guided interviews will be conducted with randomly selected 4-H youth in each youth development program surveyed. Interviews will be used as a data collection method in order to obtain members real and rich experiences as 4-H members. As Seidman (1991) says, " . . . interviewing is most consistent with people's ability to make meaning through language. It affirms the importance of the individual without denigrating the possibility of community and collaboration" (p. 7). The analysis of the interviews will be guided by the grounded theory approach as first espoused by sociologists Glaser and Strauss (1967) and further described by Charmaz (1983, 1995). The team will use NVivo 10 (QSR International, 2012), a qualitative data software program, to aid in the analysis of the interviews. This analysis will consist of coding and sorting text from the interview transcripts (Bazeley, 2007; Boyatzis, 1998). This coding will be performed for each of the primary questions posed to the interviewees. After reviewing the coded and sorted text, a process of identifying themes and insights will occur (Charmaz, 1995).

Program Practice Rubric: A rubric for categorizing 4-H club community engagement is also being tested along with the other instruments. The rubric is based on community youth engagement theory and on findings from the data on program quality gathered earlier in the project. The team is working on developing an instrument sufficiently sensitive to allow comparison across 4-H units. This focus on strengthening the youth social capital survey and the interview protocol to develop effective and valid instruments, will prepare us for the next step in the multistate research, which will scale up to include youth involved in 4-H programs in over 10 states.


Ripple Impact Mapping: Ripple Mapping is an evaluation tool, developed by members of our multi-state research group, which identifies changes and impacts resulting from the actions taken by the youth group (Baker, Calvert & Emery, 2011). Our Multi-state Research Group has chosen to combine a mapping strategy with Flora and Flora's (2008) Community Capitals Framework (Built, Natural, Cultural, Social, Human, Financial, and Political) as touchstones for three probing questions that encourage youth-adult partnership members to think about the impact their projects or activities have had on their community.

Milestones:

2014:


FOR OBJECTIVES 1 and 2:
• Convene project and research team(s) with 75% attendance on monthly calls and 60% attendance at yearly meetings;

• Identify at least 5 possible funding sources and submit proposals to two funding sources; Develop selection criteria for research sites and secure initial research sites; begin work on research protocol and begin Institutional Review Board application and approval procedure at Wave 1 institutions.

2015:


FOR OBJECTIVE 1:
• Project and research teams continue with 75% attendance on monthly calls and 60% attendance at yearly meeting(s).
• Submit additional proposals to two funding sources.

FOR OBJECTIVES 2 and 3:
• Research team creates successful research design and data collection techniques and tools; Team (led by California) begins data collection for Wave 1 locations (Maryland and others to be determined) and begins to analyze data; provides feedback to project team members and receives input on process; and complete Institutional Review Board application and approval procedure at Wave 2 institutions.

FOR OBJECTIVE 4:
• Team identifies preliminary findings and practice implications. Team seeks opportunities to share results with diverse practitioners.

2016:


FOR OBJECTIVE 1:
• Project and research teams continue with 75% attendance on monthly calls and 60% attendance at yearly meeting(s). Submit additional proposals to two funding sources.

FOR OBJECTIVES 2 and 3:
• Team begins data collection for Wave 2 locations and continues to analyze data;
• Team continues to provide feedback to project team members and receives input on process;
• Team prepares preliminary report on research findings, including reports to practitioners; and complete Institutional Review Board application and approval procedure at Wave 3 institutions.

FOR OBJECTIVE 4:
• Team convenes an interdisciplinary group to consider research and extension activities across multiple Extension program areas.
• Team provides training to diverse practitioners.

2017-8:


FOR OBJECTIVE 1:
• Project and research teams continue with 75% attendance on monthly calls and 60% attendance at yearly meeting(s).
• Submit additional proposals to two funding sources.

FOR OBJECTIVES 2 and 3:
• Team continues data collection and continues to analyze data;
• Team reports findings through white papers, reports to practitioners, and begins preparation of peer-reviewed journal articles.
• Team identifies additional opportunities to conduct investigation with Cooperative Extension and other community and youth development practitioners and participants.

FOR OBJECTIVE 4:
• Team implements research and extension activities across multiple Extension program areas.

2018:


FOR OBJECTIVE 1:
• Project and research teams continue with 75% attendance on monthly calls and 60% attendance at yearly meeting(s).

FOR OBJECTIVES 2 through 4:
• Completion of data analysis from all waves of the project;
• Document findings for all stakeholder groups in appropriate formats;
• Host conference to present research findings;
• Develop a compendium for 4-H and other Extension programs of practices and strategies to increase the development of social capital; prepare and submit final reports.

Expected Outcomes and Impacts

  • Strengthening the Capacity of 4-H Youth Development and Others to Measure and Communicate Community and Individual Social Capital Change The research methods and instruments developed by the team will be more widely used across the Extension system, making reliable information about social capital development available for the first time. The team’s experience has shown that this information is important to stakeholders and program participants. This project will address the need for more evidence-based programming in the areas of youth community engagement and citizenship.
  • Sharing Quality Program Practices in Building Youth Social Capital The team will develop and deliver training materials based on the findings of the research study. As we engage states in implementing the social capital research, we will develop a parallel process to examine and improve practices that lead to positive outcomes for youth and communities. The team will determine the best format for these materials, but they are likely to include national or state-level webinars and curriculum for in-person workshops. We will also provide coaching and follow-up for those implementing the materials leading to broader collaboration across program areas and states to generate programming that leads to measurable changes in social capital and youth and community efficacy.
  • Engaging Multiple Cooperative Extension Program Areas The Cooperative Extension system has increased its focus on the intersection of community and youth development. Two examples from the North Central region are Wisconsin’s Interdisciplinary Team Engaging Young People in Sustaining Communities, Families, and Farms and Nebraska’s focus on community development through the Rural Futures Institute. The team is an excellent venue to convene people to focus on related research and extension questions once we have implemented our current research program. We intend to convene team members and others to address questions such as: How can each of the program areas in Extension implement the identified social capital-building practices in their work with youth and communities? What are the applications of this work with 4-H youth to other underserved age groups, such as those aged 20-29?

Projected Participation

View Appendix E: Participation

Educational Plan

Educational Plan

This multi-state ERA project will benefit 4-H programs across the nation in a number of ways, including learning how the social networks formed as a natural outcome of 4-H involvement add value to young people and communities and that how we intentionally build relationships matters a great deal in the overall impact of youth programming. Specific actions proposed by the project's membership to disseminate findings and expand the awareness of the importance of social capital within 4-H, and between 4-H and communities will include:

1. Publication of research findings within youth and community development journals such as Journal of Extension, Community Development Society Journal, or reports published by National 4-H Council or centers housed at land grant institutions.

2. Publication of articles through professional organizations like NAE4-HA newsletters, other periodicals and interactive websites like 4-H ACCESS or CYFERnet.

3. Presentation of findings at practitioner conferences such as the Children Youth and Families At-Risk (CYFAR) Conference, National Association of 4-H Agents (NAE4-HA) Conference and/or Community Development Society Conference.

4. Presentation of findings at youth-centered conferences such as National 4-H Conference, National 4-H Congress or Citizenship Washington Focus.

5. Creation of white papers that synthesize the research findings on the potential for social capital formation within different 4-H modes of delivery and programs, such as Youth in Governance, 4-H Tech Teams, and GIS Community Mapping.

6. Integration of the project’s methodologies and findings into credit-generating courses offered by the participating universities (e.g., Youth Development graduate courses through the Great Plains-IDEA alliance).

7. Project member sharing of information in local forums emphasizing how youth development ultimately affects community development and social capital.
Many members are actively involved in education and outreach within their own states and institutions. In addition, members will disseminate project findings though their state and national level networks through training that will ultimately benefit client groups. Therefore, a great deal of outreach and education regarding the role and importance of 4-H for building social capital will occur naturally and informally through the many connections and collaborations of the project's membership. Activating our networks to assist in disseminating the results of the research and the toolkits will increase opportunities to generate social capital in communities that stand to benefit from improved community social capital. We will capitalize on strengthened relationships between land-grant staff and faculty in in each state and/or tribal college to increase access to the research and use of the programming materials.

Organization/Governance

Organization/Governance
Project governance closely follows the recommended guidelines outlined in the Guidelines for ERA Projects. The recommended Standard Governance for multi-state ERA Projects includes the election of a Chair, a Chair-elect, and a Secretary. The Chair and Chair-elect will be elected for two-year terms to provide continuity, and the Secretary will be elected for a one-year term. Administrative guidance will be provided by the assigned Administrative Advisor and the NIFA Representative. The Chair is responsible for calling the meeting(s) and teleconferences, developing the agenda and conducting the meeting(s). He/she is also primarily responsible for coordinating with other regional committees. The Chair-elect is responsible for meeting(s) program(s) and conducting the meeting(s) and teleconferences in absence of the chair. The Secretary is responsible for keeping meeting minutes, including teleconferences, maintaining mailing lists, handling registration fees, and distributing meeting minutes to project members and other interested parties.

Literature Cited

Literature Cited

Agnitsch, K., Flora, J. & Ryan, V. (2006). Bonding and bridging social capital: the interactive effects on community action. Community Development, 37(1), 36-51.

Bazeley, P. (2007). Qualitative Data Analysis with NVivo. London: Sage.

Boyatzis, R. E. (1998). Transforming qualitative information: Thematic analysis and code development. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Calvert, M., Emery, M. & Kinsey, S. (eds.). (2013). Youth Programs as Builders of Social Capital. New Directions for Youth Development. San Francisco: Jossey Bass.

Charmaz, K. (1983). The grounded theory method: An explication and interpretation. In R. Emerson (Ed.), Contemporary field research (pp.109-129). Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland.

Charmaz, K. (1995). The logic of grounded theory. In J. A. Smith, R. Harré & L. van Langenhove (Eds.), Rethinking methods in psychology (pp. 27-49). London: Sage.

Comer, J. (2008, May). Parents, Educators, and Community Collaboration to Promote Student Success in School and in Life. Keynote Address, CYFAR 2008, San Antonio, TX. Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES), USDA. Retrieved November 2008 from http://www.cyfernet.org/cyfar08/keynotes.html.

Emery, M. and S. Fey. 2006. “Using the Community Capitals Framework.” CD Practice, Issue 13.

Emery, M. & Flora C. (2006). “Spiraling-up: Mapping community transformation with community capitals framework. Journal of the Community Development Society: 37: 19-35.

Flora, C. & Flora, J. (2008). The Community Capitals Framework. Iowa State University and the North Central Regional Center for Rural Development. Retrieved from: www.soc.iastate.edu/staff/cflora/ncrcrd/capitals.html

Glaser, B., & Strauss, A. (1967). The discovery of grounded theory. Chicago, IL: Aldine Publications.

Grootaert, et al. (2004). Measuring social capital: An integrated questionnaire. (World Bank working paper no. 18.) Washington, DC: World Bank.

Putnam, R.D. (2000). Bowling alone: The collapse and revival of American community. New York: Simon and Schuster.

QSR International. (2012). NVivo 10 for Microsoft Windows. Melbourne, Australia.
Seidman, I. E. (1991). Interviewing as qualitative research: A guide for researchers in educational and the social sciences. New York: Teachers College Press.

Attachments

Land Grant Participating States/Institutions

AZ, CA, IA, ID, IN, KS, MD, ME, MO, SD, WA, WI

Non Land Grant Participating States/Institutions

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