Hero Image

Los Angeles County 4-H Teens Lead by Example

The Issue

Many existing youth development programs focus their outreach on children between the ages of seven and 12. Teens are often overlooked as an audience for youth development programming, as well as underutilized in the context of community volunteerism.

A growing body of research indicates a significant benefit to teens from a purposeful integration of strong academic preparation with meaningful and structured community service. These pillars of youth development are key to sustaining efforts to promote quality, equitable, and comprehensive educational experiences for youth.

What Has ANR Done?

In looking at ways to expand program services within communities with limited resources, Los Angeles County 4-H program staff explored teenagers as an audience that could potentially benefit from 4-H’s quality, research-based curricula in the areas of life skills development, service learning, and workforce/college preparation.

A community-needs assessment revealed teens, indeed, face unique challenges with regard to their personal and academic development. Thus, the 4-H Teen Leadership Development Institute (TLDI) was created in 2002 as a proactive initiative designed to help teenagers in school communities with limited resources make a successful transition from high school to college, a vocation or a career.

The program began at Compton High School and has since benefited more than 500 teens in the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area. In recent years, the program has expanded to other high-need communities of Los Angeles, including Long Beach and Maravilla. The program is delivered by Betsy Babu, Los Angeles County 4-H teen services coordinator, with program management provided by Keith Nathaniel, 4-H youth development advisor.

The Payoff

Service-Learning Success!

Perhaps the greatest evidence of success for the program is revealed in each of the communities where teen participants have fulfilled their service-learning projects. The footprint is large and undeniable. From the transformation of a barren patch of school land to a "Garden of Peace" at Compton High School, to a Diabetes Awareness Walk targeted at Latino families in the city of Compton, the program provides immeasurable benefits, not only to the individual, but to the community at large.

The end result is a meaningful expression of the teens' commitment to their respective communities, which fosters a greater sense of purpose and belonging.


Supporting Unit:

The California 4-H Foundation, based at UC Davis, and the Los Angeles County 4-H Youth Development Program
Stephanie P. Gallagher
The California 4-H Foundation
California State 4-H Office
University of California, Davis
One Shields Avenue
Davis, CA 95616
(530) 754-5299

Keith C. Nathaniel, Ed.D.
Los Angeles County 4-H Program
4800 E. Cesar E. Chavez Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90022
(323) 260-3845