Significance of 4-H on the development of youth's coping skills
Evenson, Josie Christine
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People who reside in rural areas face challenges accessing the health and mental care they need. The lack of mental health resources creates an imperative need for finding avenues to help support youth in these areas. Youth organizations, such as 4-H, that promote positive development support the well-being of the individuals who participate in that program. Previous research on 4-H revealed youth who enroll in the program develop life skills through their participation. The research also exposed that there may be a correlation between life skills and coping skills, however, there has been little evidence to support this claim. Therefore, this study sought to answer the following question: In what significant ways do planned 4-H experiences impact 4-H members coping skills? To gather data eight Montana 4-H members were interviewed and nine adults associated with Montana 4-H participated in a focus group at a Montana 4-H event. The data was organized and then coded by the primary researcher and one committee member. All data was coded into four categories: productive coping, non-productive coping, reference to others and other. Youth reported using productive coping skills more than any other category with 66% of total responses being coded as such. Youth also reported using non-productive skills with a 11% response rate and reference to others with a 12% response rate. The other category had a 11% response rate. Adults reporting observing productive coping skills more than any other category with 58% of the total responses coded that way. The adults reported observing non-productive skills with a 5% response rate and reference to others with a 19% response rate. The adults had 18% of their results coded as other. Overall, both youth and adults reported that 4-H members are predominately using productive coping skills, which they have learned through their involvement in the 4-H program. Positive Youth Development programs like 4-H can provide avenues for youth and adults to work together to address mental health skills that a rural community may be lacking.