4-H Forestry: Using Nature-Based Programming to Enhance Positive Youth Development Outcomes


  • Amy Lang


Concerned with the ongoing youth mental crisis in the United States, researchers intentionally planned for positive youth development (PYD) practices in nature. Educators, appreciating the critical importance of youth developing relationships and a sense of belonging, may regard this model as a powerful tool to enhance existing programs. Both youth and parents report this as a high quality PYD program, resulting in thriving youth. Youth participants feel welcome, supportively challenged, and passionate about the topic; resulting in a growth mindset, hopeful purpose, and openness to challenge and discovery. The program inspired an affinity for nature in
both youth participants and associated adults. 97% of youth and 95% of adult caregivers report being inspired to spend more time in nature as a result of the program. The program also inspired increased youth interest in science college and career opportunities.