Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Psychology (PhD)


Clinical Psychology

First Advisor/Committee Member

Lynette H. Bikos, Ph.D.

Second Advisor/Committee Member

Beverly J. Wilson, Ph.D.

Third Advisor/Committee Member

Christopher A. Sink, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor/Committee Member

Kirk Astroth, Ed.D.


This study is a consensual qualitative research (CQR; Hill et al., 2005; Hill, 2012) investigation of the positive youth development (PYD) model utilized by the 4-H Youth Development Program (4-H). 4-H relies on a four-quadrant model of PYD (belonging, mastery, independence, and generosity), composed of eight elements. My aim was to investigate 4-H’s environment for youth with developmental disabilities, determining whether 4-H utilizes their stated PYD approach with this population. Ultimately, the qualitative study may be utilized by 4-H to inform future programming, not only for youth with developmental disabilities, but for all 4-Hers. There were 15 total participants, 12 of them female. Participants included six parent/leaders, three leaders, two parents, one grandparent, and three alumni. Eleven participants identified as White, one as Hispanic/Latino, one as bi-racial, and two declined identification. Years of 4-H participation ranged from 3-53 years. Qualitative data was collected through semi-structured interviews with parents of 4-H youth with developmental disabilities, and 4-H leaders working with youth with developmental disabilities, and 4-H alumni with developmental disabilities. Through data analyses, 4-H’s four PYD domains emerged. 4-H gives equal credit to each of these domains. However, the data suggests belonging serves a more foundational role, allowing youth to actively engage in the program, and offering more access to the mastery, independence, and generosity domains. Within these four domains, 15 categories and 32 subcategories were identified. Findings imply that 4-H programming generally provides an environment that supports PYD. Each of the eight essential elements was noted, among others. The domains included themes around relationships with positive adults and peers, supportive environmental standards, accommodations, exposure to areas of interest, varied learning opportunities and ways to demonstrate engagement, building independence, self-determination, and service opportunities. Participant data revealed potential programmatic improvements, including clique management, adult interference, funding, undeveloped opportunities for accommodation, anti-accommodation, and education opportunities. This study provides a restructured four-quadrant figure, with belonging as the foundation. Additionally, several programmatic applications are highlighted. Future research utilizing a quantitative approach may help identify causal relations among PYD environments and PYD outcomes for youth with developmental disabilities. 4-H programming may then better serve these youth.

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Additional Rights Information

Copyright held by author.


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Additional Rights Information
Copyright held by author.