Factors influencing the leadership life skills of Montana 4-H youth
Flynn, Allison Maurine
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Since its inception, the 4-H program has been through many transitions, and has been constantly challenged to show its benefits to youth. Additionally, funding from 4-H came from multiple supporters resulting in the need for 4-H to show reasons for support. The purpose of this study was to assess the perceptions of Montana 4-H youth related to their leadership life skills and to determine the significant factors that influenced the development of those life skills. The population consisted of 2008 Montana 4-H Congress participants and 2007-2008 Montana 4-H Ambassadors. The survey instrument consisted of three sections: selected demographic information and 4-H participation, involvement in 4-H activities and leadership roles, and the Youth Leadership Life Skills Development Scale (YLLSDS). YLLSDS was a valid and reliable instrument developed by Seevers, Dormody and Clason (1995). Data were collected during the Montana 4-H Congress and survey was mailed to Montana 4-H Ambassadors. The data were entered into Microsoft Excel and analyzed using SPSS. The responses to the YLLSDS with the highest means were "have good manners," "get along with others", and "show a responsible attitude." Analysis revealed that Montana 4-H Ambassadors had statistically significant higher YLLSDS scores than those who had never been an Ambassador. The factors with the greatest influence on leadership life skills development were gender, 4-H Districts, and participation in the Ambassador program. Involvement in 4-H activities predicted 6.9% of the variation in YLLSDS scores and involvement in leadership roles accounted for 7.3% of the variation in YLLSDS scores. Leadership life skills were gained through the Ambassador program, partaking in leadership roles and involvement in leadership activities. The research attested to the effectiveness of the Ambassador program. Further research was recommended to determine which activities, leadership roles and aspects of the Ambassador program were most successful at building life skills. Further research to determine the significant variation between 4-H Districts would be useful. The study supported 4-H as a successful youth organization that responsibly teaches youth leadership life skills.