Arizona 4-H Teen Road Trip

Support Increased Economic Opportunities and Improved Quality of Life in Rural America
Research Year: 
2003
Issue: 

Retention and recruitment of teen members in 4-H is a problem nationwide. When asked what would help recruit new teens and keep current members in 4-H, the Maricopa County 4-H Teen Association suggested a road trip like the one on MTV. The rationale was that with multiple parents in the workforce, many families cannot afford the cost or time to take family vacations. Youth have become accustomed to being able to attend affordable 4-H events where they have made friends, learned valuable skills and had fun.

Description of Action: 

Arizona 4-H Road Trip is an invitational opportunity for teens aged 13-18, sponsored by the Maricopa County 4-H teen program and UA Cooperative Extension. Begun in 2001, the trip takes place "on the road" throughout a chosen region of Arizona and surrounding states in July. Activities promote communal living, trust-building, exploration, personal responsibility, interactive and interpersonal skill development and problem solving. Teenagers of various backgrounds gather from five Arizona counties to engage in the five components of the Road Trip: interactive geography/history lessons; service learning; work force/career exploration; cultural/diversity awareness and appreciation; and technology in action.

Participants develop a strong sense of teamwork and community, learn to adapt to new situations, learn how to live and work with others, participate in new activities and function as a working youth/adult partnership team. Conflict resolution, relationship building and trust skills create the "road trip community", promoting and strengthening participants' abilities to thrive in various situations and environments. Participants photograph sites during the trip and work with a 4-H agent to download them to the web site and in the form of electronic postcards. It is possible to follow the trip via the Internet, and interact through e-mails to ask questions of the group. At least two hours per night are spent creating a traveling camp so other teens and interested parties can experience a "virtual" Arizona road trip. See www.arizona.edu/4-H/roadtrip/

Impact: 

In only its third year, the size of the camp grew from 12 participants to 34 - a large size group for the intensive experience created by road travel of over 1000 miles. The program is so popular that eighty percent of the 2002 participants returned for Road Trip III. Comments from participants regarding what they learned about communal living and working with others, making new friends, trusting others, accepting responsibilities, trying new things, problem-solving, and leadership skills:

"It's fun and tough at the same time trying to get along at first, but then it's like you become a family and just instinctively help each other out." –Road Trip III participant "When living with 35 people, independence doesn't work. Everyone has to work together and make an effort. Thinking about others before yourself is the key." –Road Trip III participant

"Ground rules are necessary. The more that is expected of each other, the greater the response toward a civilized community you will have." –Road Trip III participant

"It's 4-H - it's all about making friends. And on the road trip, even though some people didn't like each other in the beginning, they finally realized, ‘Hey, I'm stuck with them for the rest of the trip!" And eventually. everyone was best friends." ­ Road Trip II participant.

"Teen Road Trip is a fun opportunity to learn about different cultures/diversities, people and situations. Fun, exciting, interesting and educational all in one!" ­ Road Trip II participant.

When asked what impacted participants the most, one teen answered, "To watch young people grow from "loners" to youth who had new friends who did things together. Took care of each other, loaned or gave money unselfishly and who grew a lot during the trip."

Funding Agencies: 

University of Arizona Cooperative Extension; Private registrations

Conact Name: 
Bryan Chadd
Contact E-mail: 
Contact Address: 

Maricopa County Cooperative Extension

4341 E Broadway

Phoenix, AZ 85040

(602) 470-8086 ext. 350 (602) 470-8092 fax