Middle school dropout? Enrollment trends in the California 4-H Youth Development Program

Stephen T. Russell, Katherine E. Heck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


There is a widespread belief that youth drop out of youth development programs during the middle school years. Alternative explanations for the smaller number of adolescent program participants have yet to be explored. We examine age trends in program enrollment using data from over 221,000 youth enrolled in the California 4-H Youth Development Program from 1992 to 2002. We include sex, race/ethnicity, rural/urban residence, and project participation as predictors of dropout. Our results indicate that the peak in enrollment in early adolescence that is observable from annual enrollment data can be accounted for by stable and high enrollment turnover before age 11, followed by increased program dropout and fewer new enrollments. These findings have implications for explanations of youth program participation and for youth development program enrollment strategies, both for the 4-H Youth Development program and for youth programs in general.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalApplied Developmental Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Applied Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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