School of Education


Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (EdD)


L. Daniele Bradshaw


4-H program, Socioeconomic Status, Rural Communities, Possible Selves




The purpose of this transcendental phenomenological study was to understand how adults, who grew up as disadvantaged children, were influenced by their experiences in a 4-H program located in rural southern Virginia. The research question central to the study was, “How do adults who grew up as disadvantaged children describe their experiences in a local 4-H program within rural southern Virginia?” The theory guiding this study was Markus and Nurius’ (1986) “possible selves” theory (p. 954). I collected data from 11 participants via interviews, focus groups, and replicas of artifacts. Post data collection, I used preset and in vivo coding to analyze the data and identify major themes using Moustakas’ modification of the Stevick-Colaizzi-Keen method (Moustakas, 1994). Six major themes emerged from data analysis: (a) 4-H experiences provide exposure to diversity, (b) 4-H participation builds character, (c) 4-H experiences provide a foundation for building life skills; (d) 4-H experiences influence present and future identity, (e) 4-H experiences provide new opportunities, and (f) education is essential to success. Adults, who grew up as disadvantaged children, perceive their experiences in the local 4-H program positively. These experiences creating a lasting impact on participants’ lives. The study’s implications may aid in the continuous improvement of the 4-H program and encourage youth to get involved in the 4-H program.

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