Arizona 4-H Character Counts: Educating Cochise County Youth

Support Increased Economic Opportunities and Improved Quality of Life in Rural America
Research Year: 

4-H Agents have identified character issues as critical in many 4-H activities. Also, schools report that disruptions in the classroom due to behavior problems reduce the number of effective teaching hours in a school day. The needs identified were to improve behaviors in some youth, and to train agents, teachers and community leaders using Character Education materials and resources.

Description of Action: 

Through the Character Counts program, school children are learning to become leaders instead of displaying negative behavior. Character Counts Curriculum is now offered in the Sierra Vista, Palominas, McNeal, Douglas and Fort Huachuca school districts in southeastern Arizona. Cooperative Extension personnel in Cochise County provided Character Counts training to care providers who serve all five of the before-and-after-school sites at the Sierra Vista elementary schools. Character Counts training was also provided to the Boys and Girls Clubs of America in Sierra Vista and Bisbee. Sierra Vista continues as a "Community of Character" and has extended and endorsed Character Counts throughout the community. At Apache Middle School the six "pillars" of Character Counts-trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, citizenship-were painted on the locker ramada as a daily reminder for all students.

Bisbee's homeless shelter for women and their children use the curriculum and have started a 4-H club at their site. In 2005, 17 juvenile detention staff were trained in Character Counts for comprehensive implementation at the Sierra Vista facility. Twenty-five teachers at Chancellor charter school were also trained, and In addition, to five school districts, the program is fully implemented at a child development center, and 12 providers from the Sierra Vista Parks and Leisure KIDS world program who completed Character Counts training for full implementation serve more than 300 youth five days a week.


Thanks to effective teacher and leader training for Character Counts programs, more than 10,000 youth in Cochise County were involved in Character Counts education in 2006. One trainer at the Sierra Vista Boys & Girls Club of America stated, "We couldn't imagine NOT having the six pillars of character be the foundation of our program. It is fun, easy, and just makes sense."

Funding Agencies: 

Arizona Cooperative Extension

Conact Name: 
Darcy Tessman
Contact E-mail: 
Contact Address: 

The University of Arizona

450 S. Haskell Avenue

Willcox AZ 85643-2790

(520) 458-8278, ext 2140 (520) 384- 3681 FAX