Building Social Capital in 4-H : Identifying and Measuring Program Practices that Strengthen Communities

AR Photos
AR Photos

Social capital is a resource that contributes to social well-being through trusting networks among people, engagement with institutions, and connections to resources. Social Capital contributes to positive youth development in two ways: individually, as relationships and connections can serve as a bridge or link for youth to enhanced life skills and opportunity; and benefits via communities within which youth live, including those that result from increased youth civic and community engagement and contribute to collective problem-solving.

Our team has developed research tools that have established the connections between certain 4-H program practices and increased social capital (see for example our special issue of New Directions for Youth Development: Issue 138, 2013). We have recently completed a toolkit designed to introduce 4-H professionals to teaching about and measuring social capital in their own programs.

Learning Outcomes:

Participants will:

  • understand the connections between building bonding and bridging social capital, engaging youth in community development, and working for social justice,
  • learn about youth development programs and practices with evidence of social capital development,
  • be able to utilize both quantitative and qualitative instruments to measure social capital in 4-H programs,
  • be able to use our published toolkit to educate colleagues, volunteers, and youth about building social capital.

The workshop will be led by veteran 4-H professionals representing both urban and rural youth development programs. The teaching team includes Nia Imani Fields (Maryland), Steve Henness (Missouri), Keith Nathaniel (California), Barbara Baker (Maine), Neil Klemme (Wisconsin), Chris Anderson (Maryland).

For more information about the conference, visit