UGA Extension agent measures the impact of 4-H Project Achievement on former 4-H'ers

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As a Georgia 4-H agent, Pamela Bloch knows that 4-H can change the lives of young people. To the uninitiated, however, that impact can be hard to describe.

Earlier this year, Bloch finished a paper that describes the impact 4-H can have on students based on a series of focus groups she conducted with Georgia 4-H alumni.

For her study, which she completed as part of her master’s degree program in the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences’ Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communication, Bloch focused on the impact of Georgia 4-H’s Project Achievement program.

Project Achievement allows 4-H’ers to select areas of interest and carry out projects related to those areas. They learn about a topic — whether it be cooking, textiles or animals — and then develop, practice and deliver a presentation on that topic. The goal is to help a child decide whether they are really interested in a certain topic and whether that interest could lead to a career.

“Project Achievement is such a strong component of 4-H, so I wanted to see whether there is something that connects project achievement with alumni moving into their adult lives,” she said.

Bloch, who works as a Georgia 4-H agent with UGA Cooperative Extension in Gwinnett County, knew that her participation in Illinois 4-H’s Project Achievement as a child laid the groundwork for her career as an Extension agent, preparing her to speak in front of large crowds with confidence. She wanted to know how the program influenced the career paths of other former 4-H’ers.

“The data came back really interestingly,” Bloch said. “When I was looking at what I was finding, Georgia 4-H Project Achievement has helped people to build friendships, develop positive habits and strengthen public speaking skills.”

Two lawyers from two separate focus groups attributed their time in 4-H with developing the public skills they used on a daily basis.

Bloch’s research has helped to confirm that there is a tangible connection between Project Achievement and the success that alumni attain in their careers. She found that arming kids with tools that help them to learn more and speak with confidence has helped shape the careers of 4-H’ers in Georgia.

For more about the programs offered by Georgia 4-H, visit georgia4h.org.

Sage Barnard is a student writer for the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and UGA Cooperative Extension.
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