Perceptions held by superintendents, principals, and teachers of the South Carolina 4-H in-school educational program

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

This study investigated perceptions held by public school personnel of the South Carolina 4-H program with respect to 4-H curriculum, state 4-H Program objectives, utilization of teachers as volunteers, the Extension Agent's role, school personnel involvement in planning 4-H programs, use of communications media, and certain aspects of utilizing volunteers from outside the school, and whether the perceptions varied in relation to the respondent's school type, school setting, and the person's own prior 4-H experience.

The research design was a survey research design with a mail questionnaire. The target populations were superintendents, principals and teachers of the South Carolina public schools. The statistical analysis included the Chi-Square test of independence. The data showed that the elements of the 4-H program are frequently observed by public school personnel. School personnel perceived five of the elements of the 4-H program occurring "sometime" to "most often" (41-100 percent of the time). They observed teachers being only "rarely" utilized as volunteers (0-40 percent of the time). Basically school personnel felt that volunteers from outside the school should be utilized with the in-school program. Some demographic variables were found to be related to the response variable. School type and school setting did not affect the respondent's perception of the 4-H objectives or the Extension Agent's role. School type did not affect the respondents perception of their involvement in planning.

Several conclusions were drawn: The 4-H curriculum is suitable for in-school use, relevant for urban and rural audiences, and little attention has been given to extension school liaison committees. Public school teachers are not successfully utilized as volunteers. The Extension Agents assume the majority of the leadership for the in-school 4-H program. School personnel perceptions are influenced by their position and whether or not they have experienced 4-H.

The following recommendations were offered:

  1. 4-H should continue its relationship with the schools.

  2. School personnel should be involved in planning and evaluating the program.

  3. Teachers and adults from outside the school be permitted to conduct 4-H clubs in the school.

  4. Extension School Liaison Committees should be established.