To strengthen its ties to research, oversight of 4-H -- New York state’s largest youth development program -- has moved to Cornell’s new Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research from Cornell Cooperative Extension. The move will provide new opportunities for teaching and research and help to improve 4-H programs.
"Research is critical to the mission of preparing youth for adulthood," said Stephen Hamilton, professor of human development and associate director for youth development at the Bronfenbrenner Center. "In the translational research model, science informs program content, how it is delivered and how results are evaluated. In turn, practice informs research by identifying new questions that research could address.
"By bringing 4-H even closer to the university, our aim is to ensure that programming decisions are based on the best evidence of what young people need and what programs are most likely to meet those needs. Some of the evidence will be found in the research literature. Some will be generated by research conducted by Cornell faculty and staff working collaboratively with 4-H educators, volunteers, youth and other stakeholders."
4-H is rooted in science. The program originated at the land-grant universities at the turn of the 20th century to introduce such improved practices as hybrid seed corn, milk sanitation and safer home canning procedures. Researchers found young people were more open than adults to the new ideas and technologies and would share their successes with their parents and communities. These innovative programs for rural youth gave rise to the first 4-H clubs. Soon 4-H became a national youth development program run by the land-grant universities and the Cooperative Extension system.