Development of 4-H youth leadership skills: a retrospective approach with emerging adults
Brenda J. Lohman
Guided by Lerner's (2005) positive youth development theory and Kouzes and Posner's (2002) five fundamental practices for effective leadership, this qualitative investigation describes how emerging adult (18-25 years) aged alumni of Iowa 4-H internalize, apply, describe and use the leadership skills they gained as youth participants in the Iowa 4-H program. Seven themes arose when discussing how Iowa 4-H alumni describe and internalize effective leadership, including leading by example and encouraging others as the two most prevalent themes. Four additional themes arose as knowledge and skills Iowa 4-H alumni possess and attribute to their 4-H experience, including the feeling of mastery through multiple, early experiences. It was also found that alumni of Iowa 4-H use their leadership skills in multiple ways. They are able to build effective teams, communicate in oral and written forms and manage their time. The findings of this study inform stakeholders of the positive youth development programming happening across the state as well as provide perspective to other programs regarding how Iowa provides leadership development and the success of adults who experienced that programming.