Why 4-H Members Leave: A Study of Discontinuance Through Both Current 4-H Members and Former Members
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4-H members quit. It is part of every 4-H program, and according to the research, it is even part of growing up. If only we knew why they quit, we could possibly do something about it. To date, the reasons youth join 4-H have been more thoroughly researched than the reasons they quit. This study explores why youth choose to discontinue membership in 4-H, and goes a step further, asking current members what they know about the discontinuers, to explore whether current 4-H members can provide information to guide programmatic adjustments to decrease discontinuance. This study identified a need for better communication and implementation of 4-H enrollment procedures, as 51.9% of discontinuers indicated they were in 4-H, while Texas 4-H enrollment records indicated otherwise. This study also revealed a divergence from the literature. The more active a 4-H member is the more likely they are to re-enroll, according to the literature. In contrast, this study found that 54% of discontinuing 4-H members described themselves as active in their 4-H club, and another 45% describe themselves as active at the county level. The literature also suggests that youth may not be interested in 4-H programs, finding them un-cool or old fashioned, while this study found less than 8% of discontinuing 4-H members described 4-H as un-cool or old fashioned. This study asked whether any or all of nine different factors influenced the discontinuer to leave, and none was found to be a significant trigger for discontinuance on its own. Most discontinuers agreed with one to four of the factors, implying it takes no more than four factors for a decision to discontinue. There is no one single reason for discontinuance, but it only takes a few reasons to decide to leave. Responses from current 4-H members about why others leave statistically failed to accurately identify the reasons for discontinuance. This study developed a model of "knowingness" that provides a foundation for understanding how well a current member needs to know a discontinuer in order to accurately describe their reasons for leaving.
Chilek, Kevin (2012). Why 4-H Members Leave: A Study of Discontinuance Through Both Current 4-H Members and Former Members. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from